Thursday, January 12, 2006

And to think, it all happened so close to my 100th post...


It has come to my attention that it has been almost 2 months since I have posted here. I waited all year for Sixers' season again and then completely fell off the map. And sadly, this looks like it will continue. The job is picking up like crazy; I'm fairly certain I just bought a house; and my role as a comic book critic at Broken Frontier has become more important. So, until I feel that I can keep up a regular schedule here, my posts will be few and far between. But I promise when I do put something up it will be of my usual quality.

And Honestly, I'd Have Been Writing the Same Thing Every Time.

I've watched a lot of basketball, and I don't think I've ever seen anything as mind boggling as the Sixers' consistency in losing games late. It's almost like clockwork. They'll lead all game, then with about 4 minutes left the lead will be cut to 7-10pts. And then the opponent will got on a 14-0 run, with them taking the lead for good at the 2 minute mark. It's just plain sad. So why does this keep happening?
  1. They get tight late in games. Everyone is trying too hard to do their part. Everyone is shooting too soon in the shot clock and not passing the basketball. All game long the Sixers will pile up assists, then suddenly stop passing. This should not happen to a team with a former point guard as their coach.
  2. There are only 4 members of the team that can even initiate the offense, and 2 of them are Kevin Ollie and John Salmons. Think about it, Iguodala, Korver, Dalembert, Nailon (when he plays), Hunter, and even Randolph are finishers. None of these players currently possess the ability to initiate the offense (something that hopefully Iguodala can eventually do, which would make the Scottie Pippen comparison much more accurate). Whenever Iguodala or Korver attempts to pass the ball in the paint it invariably gets tipped. Again, of all things for a team with a former point guard as coach to be defecient in, this is not a good one.
  3. They have no bench. You know, there are times this year that the Sixers' bench failed to score 10 points. The whole bench. I want to assume that Lee Nailon's absense on the floor has been due to injury. But that leaves only John Salmons as someone who should be allowed to shoot on the bench. That's not nearly enough. Shavlik Randolph provided a nice spark for a few weeks but he appears to have cooled considerably.
All of this is way too much to overcome. Something must be done. And it's up to Billy King to fix at least one of these problems.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Damning Coaches


God I Hate Larry Brown... And So Does the Rest of His Team.

It's almost sacriledge to start off a blog entry here talking about the Knicks, but since they have Eddy Curry and I love Eddy Curry, it seems I've been watching a lot of Knick games lately. Which hasn't been the best of times. For some reason Larry Brown can't seem to settle on a lineup. It's amazing. Lately, he's been sending out a starting forward set of Malik Rose and Antonio Davis. This lineup would be alright except for 2 things: it's not 1999, and Malik Rose cannot play small forward. Why does Larry insist on doing this? I wish I could answer that question. In the last 2 games, his greatest low post scorer, Mr. Manlove himself, has played less than 30 minutes combined. This is the same player that Larry professed he would love to play 30 minutes on opening night. Just so everyone knows, Eddy scored 12 pts in 17 minutes on Sunday, imagine what would have happened if he got 35. Also astonishing, is the quick decent of Trevor Ariza into Larry's doghouse. Ariza is considered the best wing defender by everyone, yet, Larry decided to play him a grand total of 1 second in the second half on Friday. E-freakin-Gads!!!

So Larry, this is what I'm going to do for you. I'm going to tell you your rotation and how many minutes each player should get. Stick with it, you'll do much better than you have been.

Starters:
C - Eddy Curry (35 minutes)
PF - Channing Frye (30 minutes)
SF - Trevor Ariza (30 minutes)
SG - Quentin Richardson (35 minutes)
PG - Stephon Marbury (40 minutes)

Bench:
Nate Robinson (15 minutes)
Jamal Crawford (25 minutes)
David Lee (15 minutes)
Antonio Davis (10 minutes)
Malik Rose (10 minutes)

Note - I didn't add those minutes up to see if they reached the total for a game, but they're approximate and I hope that Larry could do some math.

Somebody Claim The Hawks!!!

Well, seems that it took less than 10 games for Atlanta to decide that they wasted a lot of money on a shooting guard masquerading as a point. Shame they woefully overpaid. Even worse, this decision now forces Tyron Lue into the starting lineup. Shame that he is masquerading as a basketball player. So, once again, I am providing the fix.

Start Salim Stoudamire. Let him bring the ball up, then hand off to Johnson in the half court to initiate the offense. The issue with Johnson at the point was his ability to get to that point, it wasn't the actual initiation, it was getting there. Stoudamire would have no problem with this. And he's 10 times the basketball player that Tyron Lue is. Stoudamire would be able to keep opposing defenses honest by forcing the other team's smallest player to defend him (instead of Johnson) as well as with his dead-eye 3 point shooting.

And 1 more thing. Josh Smith should be starting over Josh Childress. Childress can be the guy who scores 12-15 off the bench. Smith should be starting for his defense and athleticism. Is anyone going to argue that Stoudamire/Smith isn't better than Lue/Childress?

My Kingdom For a Big Man

All offseason I said my main gripe with the Sixers was their backcourt depth. They added frontcourt player after frontcourt player and I screamed that they needed a guard. Well, it seems like I was wrong. Of course, it doesn't look like the Sixers added the front court player they needed.

With Samuel Dalembert sitting in street clothes, the Sixers have been eaten alive by driving guards. TJ Ford in the opener, Mike James (MIKE FREAKIN' JAMES!!!!) against Toronto, Lebron and Larry Hughes against Cleveland.

The only other Sixer who is listed as a center is Stephen Hunter. Hunter started off the year well, picking up double doubles and blocking some shots. Recently his playing time has been in steep decline. Which leaves the likes of Chris Webber patrolling the middle. And that isn't exactly a deterent, nor does it give the team a wealth of rebounders on the court. The Sixers need Dalembert back if only to provide both of those. His health is of paramount importance. With him healthy, the Sixers aren't forced to rely on Chris Webber in the middle and won't get eaten alive by anyone who wants a dunk.

And more importantly, they won't lose when they score 120 pts.

In Lieu of Manlove

Still too early in the season to give Manlove away, so I'll just give these 2 awards out first.

The "I Can't Believe I Convinced Them I Could Still Play Basketball" Award

Gary Payton - Seriously Gary, it's getting sad to watch you play. Please, no more after this year. You're an absolute shell of your former self. You can't get into the lane, you can't shoot from the outside, and boy are you making bad decisions. Who would have thought that you would make your team wish for a healthy Jason Williams and his steady playmaking.

The "I Can't Believe You Can Still Play Basketball" Award

Dikembe Mutombo - At this rate, Deke will still be coming off the bench and pulling down rebounds and blocking shots well into his sixties, if he isn't there already. I'm amazed everytime I see him on the court.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Random Sleepy Thoughts While Staying Up Late Watching Eddy Play


The Day After Tomorrow...

The day after I cut him because he's been hurt and inconsistent, Damon Stoudamire goes off for 26 pts, 7 assists, 3 three pointers, and 2 steals.

Thanks Mouse.

Just one more sign that someone needs to take control of my fantasy team away from me before I really lose it.

Just be prepared for Kenyon Martin to continue the trend.

Chris, This is Danny. Danny, Meet Chris...

All I'm saying is that this is Chris Bosh's 3rd year in the league and he hasn't put on any muscle mass. If he would somehow find the gym, he might be able to put on enough muscle to play center all year. And that would allow Charlie Villaneuva to be a full time starter next to him.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Best There Was...

I Love It When Someone Else is the Dissenting Opinion...

Normally I think his work is overrated. I think he mails in too many articles and doesn't ever make you think. But every once in a while, Bill Simmons writes a nice article. Good to see that he can still do it.

You Like Me!! You Really Like Me!!!

I guess John Hollinger of ESPN doesn't hate me. But while he was willing to answer questions on some of his favorite players, he still won't answer any questions about why he loves Chris Andersen so much. I'm going to keep plugging away though, these chats should be a weekly occurance.


Stu (Philly): Why won't Scott Skiles play Mike Sweetney more than 15 minutes a night?

SportsNation John Hollinger: I've been wondering the same thing because he's so obviously better than Songaila. I think he's worried that Sweetney won't space the floor well if he's out there with Chandler, but in this case I think the difference in skill is large enough to outweight that consideration.



Stu (Philly): For someone who made their mark last year letting their scorers run the floor, why has Nate McMillan let his best scorer (Travis Outlaw) rot on the bench?

SportsNation John Hollinger: I'm as baffled as you are. There's a numbers game at the forward spots (at least until they trade Patterson), but he still should be finding Outlaw minutes somewhere -- the guy is way too talented to be riding the pine for a bad team.


Oh, and there was this one too. I always like the idea of Larry Brown choking someone.

Stu (Philly): If Isiah Thomas trades for Jalen Rose will Larry Brown be legally exonerated for choking him to death?

SportsNation John Hollinger: Depends what he gives up -- if it only costs him Penny Hardaway then it does no harm. But remember that Isiah and Jalen weren't exactly warm and fuzzy with each other in Indiana, so I'm not sure if this rumor has legs.


What Did I Say He Had to Score?

I told someone before the season started that John Salmons needed to score 12 pts per game. Thus far he has scored 12 or more points 4 times, including 16 tonight against the Raptors.

The Sixers are 3-1 in those games.

What Happened to Crazy Rick Adelman?

Before the season, Rick Adelman stated that he would use a rotating frontcourt next to Peja Stojakovic, including any combination of Kenny Thomas, Shareef Abdur Rahim, and Brad Miller. Thus far Kenny Thomas has been wondering where these minutes have gone, as he has yet to log 20 minutes in any game.

Please Stop Shooting Jumpers

Chris Webber loves that jump shot from the elbow. Someone needs to tell him he can't hit it anymore. Get down low, throw up your hook shot. No more jumpers.

Still a Little Early

Look for more in depth NBA and fantasy discussion in the coming weeks. I won't talk about it right now considering Eddie Jones is rated #2 in the Yahoo rankings.

(notice the carefully placed Temple Owl reference?)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

This is What Happens When You're Unprepared.

So I missed the start of the season. I turned around and the first games were starting and I just had to watch. And before I knew it, I had enough for a lengthy article and can't even remember what I was thinking of doing for the season preview. Therefore, enjoy these thoughts on the first 2 nights of NBA basketball.

Can I have one of those 'ifs' back?

I take it back. Kyle, don't venture inside the 3 point line. Just stand out there and shoot. Do not ever put the ball on the floor. You're trying to do too much and it's affecting your game. You have a speciality. Stick to it.

Swim Upstream Already!!!

This is John Salmon's last year under his current contract. He's going to have to prove to everyone that he can actually play basketball. During the opening game this year, I said to a friend, "He's gotta average 12 pts a game this year. His job is to come in and score." He shows it sometimes and took the ball to the hole on 3 consecutive possessions against Milwaukee. I still think Korver would be better in that role as the bench scorer with Salmons in the starting lineup, but Salmons seems to be doing some of the things needed of him. A little more though would be better. IIRC he ended that game against Milwaukee with 10 pts. 12 would have provided the win.

Don't Overreact.

Chris Webber had an amazing first game and showed that he and Allen Iverson can coexist. Webber went off early and finished with 32pts, 14 boards, and 5 assists. He even got 2 blocks, which was impossible last year. But it was still only one game. Webber still shot too many jumpers in the game. He scored most of his points on the low post, with putback dunks and jump hooks. The jump hook looked especially good. But instead of sticking with that, he moved out to his spot on the elbow and started clanging jumpers. I cringed when for his last 2 shots in regulation, he posted up on his man, then turned to face the basket and shot the jumper instead of his hook shot. It was not surprising when both shots missed.

All in all, the Sixers looked very good in stretches. But it seemed that whenever they got a lead, they got complacent and stopped moving on offense. And they weren't good enough defensively to make up for it.

Rotations

It looks like Mo Cheeks is going to go with a more offensive minded lineup from time to time. He put Webber at the center, with Lee Nailon at the 4 and Iggie at the SF. The only problem with this lineup is that there are no rebounders on the floor. And they don't exactly look imposing as a defense. I don't know why Deng Gai has not gotten into a game yet. If Cheeks is going to be using Webber at the center position, it would behoove him to place Gai at the PF to put some semblance of a defender at a big man spot. Gai and Webber could take turns on defenders to try and keep Gai on the weakside, where his shot blocking would be a major asset.

Game 2?

Didn't happen. I think it was obvious to everyone that playing the Detroit Pistons in their home opener, the night after losing an overtime game at home was not going to end well.

Byron, you love your lamp(e)!

Why hasn't Maciej Lampe gotten on the court yet? What is Byron Scott thinking? And where was Travis Outlaw in Portland? Odd that these teams are in a youth movement, trying to find out who is going to be a basketball player, and they leave these guys on the bench.

John Hollinger, I'm holding you responsible.

I just want to ask: Where are the numbers I was promised from Chris Andersen? Why isn't he even starting? I guess this is another question for Byron Scott. And why trade an All Star center for Desmond Mason, just to give Mason a bench role and 20 minutes a night? I think I need to call George Shin and tell him I'll coach the team for a fraction of what he pays Byron.

Crazy Rick Adelman - His Frontcourt Lineups are INSANE!!!

In the preseason, Rick Adelman announced that he was going to go with a rotating starting frontcourt this season. Depending on matchup, he would start any combination of Brad Miller, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Kenny Thomas at the center and power forward positions. Thus far he has gone with Abdur-Rahim at the 4 and Miller at the 5, which is pretty much what anyone else thinks he should do. But who knows with that crazy guy. I guess that's what happens when you always produce a winning team yet no one thinks you'll be employed after this year.

Well, 1 out of 2 ain't that bad.

Jameer Nelson did not start in Orlando. Instead, Brian Hill went with the ever potent DeShawn Stevenson. I have no idea what Jameer did to deserve this, but I wish some team would save him from Orlando.

Meanwhile, Delonte West did manage to win the starting PG position in Boston for the Hated Celtics. He played well in the opener with 14-9-9, with 3 steals and 4 blocks. A few more games like this and people will every wonder why Orien Greene ever entered into the discussion.

We can't talk basketball without a taste of Manlove.

Eddy Curry made his regular season debut with the Knicks. He played a nice game (and got more minutes than anyone would have expected) with 19-8 and 2 blocks. He was still a little slow and missed quite a few rebounds, but it was a nice start for his Knick career. A couple things are still clear.

1. Eddy still has slow feet. I don't know how know I'm the only one who's seen this, but really, let's get this guy doing some exercises to improve his quickness. A better first step would take Eddy a long way.

2. He's out of practice. Eddy shot 40% from the field and 50% from the line. Those percentages should be 20 pts higher each.

3. If I thought I used to get mad at Kirk Hinrich for not passing to Eddy, I think I might have an anuerism this year watching ball hogs Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford, and Quentin Richardson keep the ball out of his hands.

Finally, kudos to Yahoo.

Normally when you want to prepare someone for a fantasy basketball season, you put out a mock draft a couple weeks before the season. This year, Yahoo decided that they wanted to wait until a day before the season to publish their mock draft. So that no one could use it. Good job fellas. I use the mock drafts to see the earliest any of my targeted players go. The earliest I had seen Eddy drafted when my draft occured was Round 9. The Yahoo draft had him in Round 7. If that had been out a week earlier, I wouldn't have had to rush through a 3 team deal to get Eddy back on my team.

Monday, October 31, 2005

A Season of "If"s

Rather than put up a detailed Sixer's season preview, which would re-iterate everything that has been written by the local media and national media over at ESPN, I decided to go a different route. Because I believe that this season can really be summed up in one word. IF.

IF Chris Webber stays healthy and is even 75% of his former self

and

IF Allen Iverson can learn to trust his teammates more

and

IF Andre Iguodala makes the next leap to superstardom

and

IF Samuel Dalembert can stay healthy and finally deliver on his potential

and

IF Kyle Korver can add some variety to his offensive attack

and

IF Mo Cheeks can get through to the players and keep them at a high level

and

IF John Salmons keeps going to the basket like he has all preseason

and

IF Stephen Hunter is a shot blocking force off the bench

and

IF the learn to maximize what they have on the defensive end

Well, then the Sixers could be the surprise team of the year and somehow challenge in the East. If only 75% of those things go well they could win the Atlantic Division. If only 50% of those things happen they'll be right back where they were last year. And if none of those things happen then it's time for fire Billy King.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Almost There... (Stay on Target)

It's almost here. The NBA Season is less than a week away, and along with it Fantasy Basketball season, the greatest time of the year. For those who picked up this site during the basketball offseason, you will soon realize that Sixers talk will dominate this blog for the forseeable future. I'll still mention other sports from time to time, but really, the NBA will dominate. So, as I am still in the preparation stages for my NBA season preview, I decided that a short post was necessary to cover a couple topics.

It's Honorable and Admirable But...

It's great that Donovan McNabb is showing such great heart, determination, courage, (insert the remainder of cliche words here) by playing through the pain of his sports hernia. It's simply amazing that the man can still play at such a level with the pain he must be going through. But one thing is for certain, the Eagles will not win the Super Bowl with a beat up quarterback. I would have thought that would be obvious to everyone. Sit him down. Get him his surgery and get him healthy. Even if they have to tank this year, I'd rather have a healthy McNabb the next few years than one who is still feeling the effects of playing hurt so much.

(On another note - It's amazing the career parallels that are starting to show between McNabb and Steve McNair. Both are known as warriors who will play through incredible pain. Both have incredibly strong arms and are/were well known for their ability to scramble. Now both are starting to suffer the effects of playing hurt. But that's a discussion for another time.)

I Had to Buy It Myself But It Was Still Worth It

So, John Hollinger of ESPN.com never sent me a review copy of his new book, Pro Basketball Forecast 2005-06. I waited and waited but it never came. But, seeing as how his PER (Player Efficiency Rating) is becoming a standard stat over at ESPN and I needed to know how to figure it out, I bite the bullet and shelled out my own hard earned cash for the book.

And I can safely say that it was worth every penny. Hollinger goes into incredible detail on every player in the NBA last season, describing their stats based on 40 minutes, their PER, and who they are most comparable to in NBA history, based on statistical analysis. He uses all of this information to even project what are possible stats for every significant player. Incredibly in depth and detailed, Hollinger leaves no stone unturned in his analysis, and he unafraid to be frank and truthful in his analysis (even if he is a little hard on Manlove). Hollinger even gives a short scouting analysis of draft picks, and spend a chapter on prominent Euroleague players, working hard to develop a system that can translate their stats to what they would look like in the NBA.

Hollinger explains each of his unique statistics very early in the book. Everything is explained in great detail and makes a great deal of sense. Plus, I finally know why Hollinger was never able to explain PER in any of his chats. It is the most comprehensive stat I have ever seen. Everything that can accounted for is. Think you know how much a defensive rebound is worth? Think again, because there are factors you never thought to include. But Hollinger does. Same with Free Throws made and missed, blocks, turnovers, and every other stat imaginable. Hollinger leaves no stone unturned in breaking down each player and their contribution to their team. He even creates a shorthand version of the stat, called "Game Scores", that convey the same information, but with simpler (and slightly less accurate) equations. I have a feeling that I will use "Game Scores" an awful lot on this site.

The craziest thing Hollinger does is with his projections. Hollinger goes through basketball history to find the 25 most comparable players to each individual, uses those stats to generate the most likely trends, and then uses that to generate projected stats. And it's sometimes funny to see which player was most comparable (for instance, Austen Croshere projects most like Sam Perkins).

If there is one complaint to be made about the book (I'll overlook the simple grammatical/editing errors early on), it's that it often feels like I've read part of it before. A lot of the book is eerily similar to his ESPN articles (some parts have even been abridged for website publication), and they have gone ahead and posted his stat lines on their website. But this book is worth it alone for his statistical explanations. Anyone who is a basketball and/or statistics fantatic NEEDS to own this book. I know that I'll be buying it every year from here on out.

John Hollingers Pro Basketball Forecast 2005-06 can be purchased at Amazon. Just type in "Hollinger" into the search engine and it's right there. Enjoy.

Monday, October 17, 2005

We're Talking Bas-Ket-Ball!!!

OK, for anyone looking for some football or baseball talk, look elsewhere. It's officially time to start talking about basketball, basketball, and more basketball. You will have to excuse the lack of links in this post as well, my resources are a little short at present. I will point out that Brandon Funston of Yahoo Fantasy Sports has kept his Bigger Board of top 100 fantasy basketball players updated and has broken that down further in terms of top 25 at each position. Also, my buddy Eric Karabell has started mentioning fantasy basketball in his ESPN Fantasy Sports Blog. Check those out if you can, I will try to put up links later in the week to keep everyone fresh.

In the meantime, while I am still waiting for that review copy of John Hollinger's Pro Basketball Forecast 05-06, (c'mon John, you know you want to send me a copy) here are the most pressing thoughts concerning the Sixers and Fantasy Basketball.

Microfracture Surgery = Not Good Times

For anyone who already held their fantasy drafts and felt great about grabbing Amare Stoudemire with a top 10 pick, you have my most sincere sympathies. Stoudemire recently underwent microfracture surgery on his knee and is projected back, at the earliest, in 4 months. Which means February. Looking over the list of players that have had microfracture surgery, there isn't a really good success rate. Especially for someone like Amare, who's game is predicated on his athleticism and explosiveness, this comes as a huge blow. To be honest, unless he somehow is sitting around in the last round, I don't know how I can tell anyone to take a chane on this guy. I've said that with the offseason changes made to the Suns in an attempt to get physical, they remind me most of the 2001-02 Milwaukee Bucks, who in a rash decision to get tougher after making the Eastern Conference Finals, signed Antony Mason and completely missed the playoffs; now, without Amare, they might be even worse than that.

Even worse is what it does to the rest of his team. The Suns are now down to only 2 remaining starters from last year's team: Steve Nash and Shawn Marion. Nash's assist numbers were already in question at the start of this year after he lost his two wingmen and 3 point chuckers, now, with his main man in the middle out it'll be interesting to see how well all his new teammates compliment him. None of them has the outside shot or confidence that Richardson and Johnson had, and no one comes close to Amare's impact. His impact has taken a major hit. Nash will now have to shoulder more of the offensive load, and somehow learn where to get his new teammates the basketball. And this doesn't even mention his questionable durability.

Marion takes less of a hit, and in fact, may not take one at all. It was widely known that last year the Suns never ran a play for The Matrix, yet he still managed to average upwards of 19ppg. He's an incredible athlete who is just a fantasy stat stuffer. Somehow, despite all of what's going on around him, Marion takes no hit at all when considering his fantasy value.

Outlook: Amare falls off the list, Nash drops a few round, Matrix stays where he is, and keep an eye on Raja Bell, he's the most likely to find a lot of extra shots.

I Hear It Takes 2 Years to Really Come Back

One of the current NBA players who has had microfracture surgery on his knee is 76ers power forward Chris Webber. In all talks with Webber thus far in the preseason, his surgically repaired knee is feeling much better. In fact Webber has admitted that he probably tried to return too soon after having the surgery. It's a shame that he's missed the last week or so of the preseason with a bruised thigh (on his other leg), because everyone is very optimistic about having Webber and Iverson on the floor together this year. Mo Cheeks has stated that Webber will be much more involved in the offense, and that the team is really learning to move around him and best use his incredible passing talents. I like what I'm hearing, and have been saying since last season that Webber is too smart of a basketball player not to be able to play with Iverson, but after all this talking, I'll reserve final judgement for when I see the games.

But just to prove how much I'm looking forward to this, I went out this weekend and bought myself a Chris Webber jersey.

So Who Has Made Their Mark This Preseason?

With Webber out with his thigh injury, and Samuel Dalembert still resting his knee, who have the Sixers turned to in the preseason? Well, it looked like Michael Bradley was using the preseason to make his mark but then he got hurt. Shavlik Randolph, who was mentioned here as an interesting candidate, has also been out with an injury. Instead, Deng Gai has done the most to make his mark. The 6'9" undrafted rookie PF out of Fairfield is leading the Sixers in blocked shots in the preseason. Considering that Dalembert and Hunter are both athletic shot blockers and will be the #1 and #2 guys playing in the middle, the Sixers may have hoped for more of a scorer out of the backup PF role, but if Gai keeps playing the way he is, it'll be real hard to keep him off the roster. And really, who doesn't want a "Gai" jersey?

Another interesting preseason stat - John Salmons is second on the team in free throw attempts. Every year it seems like Salmons draws nothing but praise in the preseason, only to find himself sitting on the bench all year. This year, especially with the loss of Willie Green, it looks like Salmons will have to take a much bigger role. Here at A Fantasy Life, I have been a proponent of placing Salmons in the starting lineup. He is a taller guard who can handle the basketball, thereby lessening the burden on Iverson, and he can play defense and has a nice outside shot. Starting Salmons would put Iguodala back in his natural SF position, plus it would bring Kyle Korver off the bench, where his Instant Korver 3 point offense would be an incredible change of pace weapon.

Oh My Beloved St. Joe's Hawks, How You Have Been Forsaken!!!

So it appears that with their recent trade for Dan Dickau, Delonte West is no longer going to be the starting PG for the Hated Celtics. The reasoning for this is... Well, I have no idea what it is. West is a better shooter than Dickau, he is a much better pressure player, and has experience running the team during their playoff push last year while Gary Payton was whining his way out of Atlanta. West never put up gaudy assist numbers, but with Paul Pierce still running the show in Boston, it wasn't really in his job description. West could handle the ball, play defense, and get open for 3's. Now he's back on the bench. Shame.

But an even bigger travesty is the sudden appearance of DeShawn Stevenson in the Orlando Magic starting backcourt. Despite him having the same name as an old high school wrestling teammate, Stevenson has little reason for being there. All offseason the talk was that Francis would be moved over to the SG spot, thereby freeing up the PG duties for Jameer Nelson. The Magic even went out and brought Keeyon Dooling to challenge for that role. Instead, it appears that Francis will be back hogging the basketball as the Magic PG and Nelson will have to settle for a 6th man role. Shame too, because despite him being a local favorite, Nelson put up very nice numbers last year during his stint as a starter. I don't know what would cause the Magic from not starting a PG who is a great team leader and clutch player, who averaged 15-5-5 while starting last year, but they should be fired immediately.

Steve Francis truly is Basketball A.I.D.S.

There's a Reason I Call Him Manlove

In his first appearance as a New York Knick, after missing most of preseason with the ongoing DNA/contract talks, Eddy Curry scored 16 points in 13 minutes. Just figured I'd point that out.

And of the Man Filling the Void In Chicago?

Now that they can officially begin the A.E. (after Eddy, and subsequently me as a fan) Era in Chicago, what does it look like for this starting front line? Well, it looks like Tyson Chandler will be officially moved into the starting center position. I don't know if this will truly affect his playing time, as Chandler played the most minutes of any Chicago big man last year coming off the bench, but it should be a nice confidence booster. Chandler will most likey be amongst the league leaders in rebounds and blocks, but what should be interesting is his increased presence in the offense. Without Eddy, Tyson will have to provide more of an offensive presence on the low post. Chandler has never been known for his shooting touch, but it really isn't that bad. And despite the way it looked at times last year, Tyson has taken incredible strides to improve his free throw shooting, and it's always good to have a big man who can shoot free throws.

And since Tyson is getting moved over to the center position, it appears that one of the players who came over in the Eddy Curry trade, Mike Sweetney, will be taking over as the starting PF. Last year in this space I made a big deal about Sweetney being placed in the starting lineup in New York when the Knicks traded Nazr Mohammed. Everyone thought that Sweetney's minutes would double and for a week or so they did. Well, it looks like he'll get another chance to show everyone what he can do in Chicago. Sweetney is a prototypical, back to the basket, low post player, who will probably be able to take up the scoring slack left by Eddy. Not to mention, Sweetney is actually a better rebounder than Eddy and due to his college grooming at Georgetown, understands where he is supposed to be on the basketball court on defense. Sweetney will probably go undrafted in fantasy drafts, but if he plays as well as some expect, he'll be one of the first free agent pickups.

Just Pray For A Top 2 Pick

For the first time in recent memory, there is complete unknown in ta fantasy basketball top 10. Aside from Lebron and KG, there is a great deal of question as to who to take next. Some would say that Dirk is an obvious choice, but with Yahoo taking away his center elligibility, his rough summer schedule with his national team, and with his ever increasing load carrying the Mavericks with Finley gone, I'm expecting a bit of a dropoff. Others may say Tim Duncan, some may opt for The Matrix, some may like the idea of having a Phil Jackson coached Kobe Bryant, and some of you may have already said Amare Stoudemire (my condolences again). Either way, unlike picks 1 & 2, when coming up on one of these picks you'll actually have to think about your decision. So without further ado, I present my own top 10 list:

1. Lebron
2. KG
3. Marion
4. Duncan
5. Dirk
6. T-Mac
7. Kobe
8. Wade
9. Iverson
10. Jermaine O'Neal

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Karma is a Bitch

Some Final Phillies Talk

Anyone looking for in depth Phillies coverage I will once again send over to my buddy Jason Weitzel at his exceptional Beer Leaguer. But I will say one thing. At one point in time, like most baseball fans, I loved the Cubs. They were the lovable losers from Chicago, who everyone wanted to win (well, except for White Sox fans at least). Mark Prior is a mainstay on my NL-only fantasy team (which finished a very close second - more later) and I have always been a fan of the steady Greg Maddux and angry yet enjoyable Dusty Baker. However, that love affair ended on Sunday. With the Phillies having already won their game and needing the Cubs to beat the Astros to force the one game playoff in Philadelphia, the Cubs decided to spread their bad luck to other teams.

At one point in the game, with the Astros leading 3-0, the Cubs had men on first and third with no outs and Greg Maddux up. Now, Maddux is known as a fairly good hitting pitcher, but it was obvious he was going to lay down the suicide squeeze in this situation. But instead of the squeeze leaving at least one man on base and scoring a run, Greg Maddux bunted back to the pitcher which led to a double play and a runner still stranded at third. Later in the game (Top of the 5th inning), the Cubs put together a rally that had them leading the game 4-3. Once again, Maddux stepped up to the plate with men on first and third, but this time with 2 outs. With a chance to break the game open, Dusty Baker left Maddux in the game to try and preserve his opportunity to win 14 games (making it 17 straight years). Maddux popped out. He then started the next half inning by giving up the game tying home run. The Astros went on to win the game. The Phillies season ended.

I will no longer cheer for the Cubs.

Even worse for me in this situation was that my opponent in the finals of the NL-only fantasy league had Jimmy Rollins on his roster. So not only did I have to somehow survivie J-Roll's impressive offensive onslaught at the end of the year, but it came with no silver lining and his hot streak was not enough to get the Phillies into the playoffs.

Basketball Season is Around the Corner

This week, NBA teams open their training camps. In a few short weeks, we should know the rotation of every team and exactly what we can expect from them. In the meantime, John Hollinger of ESPN has posted a preview of every team. Each preview addresses the 3 major questions presented to each team from the long offseason. Well done and interesting, it is something worth checking out.

Also of note is Hollinger's new book, the Pro Basketball Forecast 2005-2006. In it, Hollinger takes his Bill James like approach to basketball statistics and makes his predictions for this upcoming season. There have been a couple of articles on ESPN.com that summarize some key points from Hollinger's book and they have been well thought out and present interesting factual basis. I had intended to pick this book up and review it for A Fantasy Life readers, but when I went to purchase it from Amazon last week, the book still was not released. I may still purchase the book, but it is unlikely with my work schedule and comic book reviewing duties that I will be able to provide an in-depth review here. Based on Hollinger's work for ESPN it would be hard to expect this to be a poor book, but I cannot really recommend it without reading it first. So, unless Hollinger wants to mail me a copy of the book, you will have to purchase it on your own without any recommendation from me.

Sixer's Signing

It's hard for me to miss any local basketball news, but somehow this one slipped past me. This Sixers have signed forward Lee Nailon to improve their bench. Nailon had himself a career year last year playing in New Orleans, and worked that into a contract with the Sixers. While he doesn't provide any defense at all, Nailon is a scorer and should help bolster their bench contributions this year. Expect him to get 20-25 minutes a game at both forward positions and play a role similar to the one Corliss Williamson had while on the team. Nailon doesn't fix all the problems of the bench (as he is not a backcourt player).

The only other player of note on the Sixers training camp roster is Duke's Shavlik Randolph. Randolph wasn't a superstar in college, but playing at Duke gives him a name and some experience playing in hostile and high level environments. It still remains to be seen if the Sixers plan on adding any backcourt depth to the team (which at this point is sorely needed), but it should be an interesting training camp to watch unfold.

And Now the Saddest News of the Day - I Must Root for the Knicks

In the be careful what you say department, Eddy Curry has been traded to the New York Knicks. All summer I have been laughing about the Knicks and their hiring of coach Larry Brown. Now I find myself having to root for him and his team as they now possess the manchild known as Eddy "Manlove" Curry.

The situation surrounding this trade has been a very interesting one. And anyone who pays attention to the NBA and this site may have wondered why I stayed quiet. Well, the short answer is I didn't know which side to support. The situation surrounding Eddy and the Bulls revolved around the heart trouble he showed at the end of last year. An irregular heartbeat kept Eddy out of the final 13 games of the season and palyoffs, and the fact that the NBA would not issue insurance on Eddy's heart condition made it hard for him to get any type of long term offer. In fact, for him to get his one year qualifying offer from the Bulls, Eddy would have had to undergo DNA testing. The Bulls and NBA said that this testing was necessary for Eddy's long term health. That with this testing they would know if he was predisposed to any serious heart problems and the NBA would not have ended up with another Reggie Lewis or (local hero) Hank Gathers, two players who have died from heart problems. Eddy and his lawyer saw this as an invasion of privacy and completely unnecessary. I saw that both sides of the argument had their points and found it impossible to take a stand. Having been a huge fan of Gathers (his high school coach is a longtime family friend) in high school and college, I am fearful for having another favorite player lose his life on the court. But if the precedent was set that an employer could demand DNA testing for prospective employees, it could open up a whole case of cans of worms that no one wants to deal with.

In the end, the Bulls refused to sign Eddy without the DNA testing and were forced to trade him to the only team that would take him and give him a contract, the New York Knicks. Eddy provides the Knicks with a much needed center and low post scoring option, but now must contend with coach Larry Brown. I am hard pressed to see a defensive minded coach who demands 110% from each of his players like Brown dealing well with a player like Curry, who is well known for his laspes in effort and judgement. Perhaps this marriage can turn out alright and Larry can get through to Eddy like he did with Allen Iverson. Most likely though, Eddy will end up wallowing on the bench as Larry tries to get him traded. At least with Isiah Thomas as his general manager, Eddy is guaranteed one thing. He'll make far more money than he's worth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Is it Football season yet? These games are still putting me to sleep.

I know that there was no post last week. I had been promised that Cleveland correspondant Joel Wertman would have one, but he had internet problems and couldn't get it up. So, to make up for the lost week, I've got a long one for you. An email conversation between myself and good friend Jay "Yorkis" Levin, discussing the NFL's shortcomings, NBA players slacking off, and, like every conversation with Yorkis, steroids.

Be warned that these are taken verbatim from emails. There are times when punctuation and spelling don't matter and some may be offended by some of the language. I kept it this way to preserve its authenticity and because I'm lazy and didn't feel like editing. But it should provide a nice discussion topic.

Enjoy.

Yorkis - Why does TV coverage of the NFL stink? I mean, it's bad enough that u have to have a dish just to pay for all the games. But why do we need to stick with the coverage for a 42-3 blowout? i suppose there weren't any good early games on Fox anyway. But then to give us the stinky Jets/Dolphins game was worse. CBS had 3 games - only 1 was so stinky that they didn't even do it in HD. so why did we get the stinker? this is what i hate about the NFL.

Stu - i'll tell you why coverage of the nfl stinks... it's because the nfl itself stinks. there might be 4 good teams in the entire league. and that might be a stretch. the league is awful. do you realize that the chicago bears are going to win the nfc north?? the bears. seriously. that's terrible, they couldn't win the sec. the nfc west
is the most awful division in football. i was having this argument with spooge yesterday and he said that football was great and that brett favre was awesome. i said brett favre used to be awesome. he said "well, he did throw for 300 yds and 3 touchdowns." and i replied "in a loss. to cleveland. who shouldn't win another game all year." he had no response. seriously, it's time to stop sucking the dicks of the nfl and realize how poor the product actually is. maybe if the competition in the league was better i would care about my 4 fantasy
teams. but it isn't. and i don't. even worse is i'm going to have to read tmq today and hear him talking about how great everyone is.

Y - i disagree that the NFL stinks. i think there are enough good teams and that the parity allows top teams to rotate every year. the only teams able to really sustain anything close to dominance over the past 5 years are the birds, pats, and colts - and even those are flawed. the pats won 3 superbowls by 10 total points, the colts haven't made the SB, and the birds only once. everything else changes. there are actually a lot of good teams. and the Bears would easily win the SEC, since the champs will probably be Florida, which beat Tennessee in an abortion of a game this weekend. (they could probably also beat Arkansas, that lost 70-17 to USC on Saturday)

this year is another great race. if KC emerges as a true contender again (which they will, thanks to the addition of uber-LB derrick johnson, who probably should have been the #1 pick in the draft), then that's a great race between the Steelers, Colts, Pats, and Chefs - who should all emerge as division bosses. In the NFC, you could come down to Philly, Carolina, Atlanta, and Tampa - unfortunately, the top teams aren't spread out by division and it's not as sexy. but somebody's gotta win games, and somebody's gotta lose them. 256 games will be lost in the NFL this year. If 12 teams make the playoffs with an average of 10 wins each, that means that 120 games will be of importance to the league. Of the other 136 games (including playoff teams losing to non-playoff teams, and non-playoff teams going head to head), chances are that 50% of those will be "close" games (decided by 8 pts or less). That makes a total of 188 games that are either "close" or "important" out of 256, or 73%. If you add a quarter of the meaningless games for your fantasy interest only to the "important" category (for your personal importance), it's 205 out of 256, or a whopping 80%.

that means that fans can be interested in approximately 80% of the games (you could take a few % since some playoff positions are decided before the final game, but MOST are not. and even teams that are locked up may play someone who needs something to happen for position).

whether you like it or not, that is statistically speaking, why the interest in football is through the roof, and why the product is great. oh, and it looks great in HD.

there is definitely a balance of power shift to the AFC, but that doesn't mean the NFL sucks. the NBA had a power shift that's lasted quite some time (despite Detroit's title, the rest of the East was atrocious). but the NBA is still excellent. the NFL is about to get really strong all around again, as QBs like Big Ben, Orton, Eli, & Carson Palmer hit their primes while McNabb, Peyton, Brady, Vick, Delhomme, Green, and Culpepper (he gets to stay, despite 2 horrible games) are already in their primes. Then we get 2 more exciting rookies next year to join them in Lienart & Young. Those guys will help turn around this year's bottom 2. everything's cyclical, guy. As long as they don't give anyone guaranteed contracts!

i'm no huge Favre fan. believe me. i took him as a 7th round bargain b/c there were 3 fantasy QBs i actually liked, and they all went in the 1st round. you gotta admit that he is really good though. he's had that team in the playoffs repeatedly & won a superbowl (or 2? can't remember). yeah, this week's stats meant nothing. and i am shocked that cleveland won. i really thought they could go 0-16. the dream is now gone.

S - no, parity allows crappy teams to masquerade as good teams. every year there's at least 2 teams that stink in the playoffs. seriously, it's time to end this crazy defense of the nfl and it's sucktitude. the teams stink. there aren't many good teams. it's a fact. the redskins haven't found the end zone in two weeks yet still managed to
win a game. that's ridiculous. the detroit lions have a win. the freakin cowboys are 2-0. last night we had two games (that stunk) with 4 teams (that stunk). it's a fact. the level of play is terrible. what really pisses me off is tmq talking shit on the nba and how their games suck, then he goes ahead and tells me how great the 9-7 skins win was and how impressive it was for the jags and colts to play a 10-7 game (or whatever the score was). (because a 10-7 nfl game is definitely not more interesting than an 86-84 nba game. not a chance. now way. not possible.) sorry dude, those games weren't interesting. they were coma inducing. the play of the game is slow and it's rare that anything happens. don't give me the beauty of the nfl. it doesn't exist. and your idea of how many games are important is way off. because, let's be honest, the only team worth watching the first couple of weeks is the hometown team. so that means you have 4 games in 4 weeks that contain rooting interest. at that point, the playoff picture starts to take shape and you know which teams need to win and lose for particular things to happen. just because these games have interest doesn't mean they'll be good. most will be coma inducing. because, let's be honest, the skins/bears game was close, but it certainly wasn't interesting.

stop giving culpepper props. he stinks. he's always lead the league in fumbles. and now he doesn't have randy moss. he's got 10 turnovers in 2 games and no touchdowns. none. how is he an elite player? his team hasn't won yet. and while favre may have been great (in winning 1 super bowl) he is no longer any good. plus, giving him credit for making the playoffs in consistently the worst division isn't saying much. it's like giving the padres credit this year even though they'll make the playoffs with a losing record. and yes, i included baseball talk to show you how disillusioned i am with the nfl currently. i'm not stating opinion. i'm stating fact. the games are
so bad that i don't even watch them for fantasy implications anymore. if there wasn't a hometown team to root for (and watch choke consistently) then i would definitely not care about football at all.

S - here's something funny. i just checked espn and apparently the redskins did find the end zone twice last night. gee, what a shame that the rest of the game sucked mammoth amounts of ass and i neverturned it back on after halftime.

Y - wow, it's tough to argue against your esoteric points. if you are saying that bad teams masquarade as good teams because they win against other bad teams, they you are saying that bad teams are bad relative to absolutely nothing. in any bell distribution (which is usually what final records look like in the NFL) there will be a few good teams, a few bad teams, and every one else in the middle. if teams are just "bad" because you don't enjoy watching them, then it is an issue of "taste", which makes it awfully hard to quantify.

i am by no means a Culpepper nut, but it must be noted that he had something like 42 TD vs. 10 INT last year (statistically, one of the top-10 QB performances in league history) - with Moss missing more than half the season. but he was largely overshadowed by Peyton. basically, to use a B-word reference, that's like Sammy Sosa's 66 dongs in the year McGwire hit 70. this year, Vikes had a big O-line shakeup. as a former Jew-league QB, i can tell you that when the line explodes, you have nothing. i remember going through entire games where i didn't even have "1-mississippi" to throw the ball. i'm not saying it's like that in Minny cuz i haven't seen them, but u can't kill a guy's career in 2 games (except for Ki-Jana Carter. it only took the Bengals 1 snap to do that). 2 years ago Donovan was the worst QB in the league after opening losses to TB & NE. he bounced back. Culpepper has 8 INTs already in 2 games. If he finishes the season with 64, then he's off the list.

too bad you fell asleep before the end of the Cowboys/Skins game, or you would have seen that the Cowboys are NOT 2-0 because they gave up 2 TD bombs (40 and 70) to Santana Moss in the final 4 minutes of the game and lost 14-13. they were some of the prettiest passes i've ever seen. of course, i watched The Ultimate Fighter and Raw during most of the game, so the bombs at the end were all i saw.

TMQ doesn't upset me when he rips the NBA, because I agree with the BASIC point he makes: NFL players give more effort every time out because their jobs are always on the line. In other words, "guaranteed contracts are bad for competition". after watching roughly 400 NBA games last season, I couldn't agree with that point more. Guys consistently "dog it", and rarely play hurt, since they get paid anyway. Sure, there are some naturally fierce competitors, but there is a large number of players that shouldn't even be in the NBA, but can't be replaced due to "bad" contracts. Dude - the league trades players for "expiring contracts". As much as I love the NBA, it would be roughly 1 zillion times better if they got rid of guaranteed contracts. Whether a person enjoys watching one league over the other is a matter of taste - but there is no denying which league's players play "harder" each and every game.

The Skins/Bears was bad, but if you go to a bar and watch all the games at the same time, you can sit in front of a different TV. And even if you did, you'd still turn to the Bears/Skins TV for the final drive. Coverage in your home is certainly a big problem with the NFL. That, and the inflexibility of the Mon. & Sun. night & Thanksgiving games. But the games themselves are not. I saw a much larger % of bad and uninteresting games in the NBA this year. Lots of great games too. But even the great games, i mostly picked up in the middle of the 4th quarter. The ENDS of close games are always interesting. If the Bobcats & Hawks are tied at 45 with 1 minute left and i stumble upon the game, i'll watch. But if I had no other viewing options for the first 47 minutes, i'd be pissed.

Don't forget that one of the big lures of the NFL is the gambling. There is no more exciting gambling than NCAA & NFL football. Gambling in the NFL is as healthy as ever. If you have zero interest in gambling, you may not love football.

S - i think you're rationalizing this "good/bad team" thing a little too much. bad teams are bad teams. they don't become "good teams" just because there are worse teams. they are "better than the bad teams" which really doesn't say much. what's the worst conference in the ncaa? let's just say one of the black ones is. none of the teams are really that good. in fact, in a general sense, you could say they're all really bad teams. however, just because one of them has to win and goes 8-2, do they automatically become a "good" team? no, they still stink. it's just that their competition was even worse. based on your logic, all the teams could be awful, yet because they have to play each other and because someone has to win they become "good". you're working on comparisons and bell curves. i'm telling you the play and talent level stink. bad teams are bad teams no matter who they play. they're still bad.

culpepper stinks and has always stunk. stats be damned. they're only good for fantasy, and by the same logic, brett favre's game against the browns was exceptional, even though they lost to the browns. you know how i know culpepper stinks? he never wins in the big games. his teams collapse down the stretch. you could put up great stats against a bunch of retards, but that doesn't make you a great qb. and let's be honest, the bears for the last few years might've well as been retards.

i also think it's a rash overstated generalization to say that nba players "slack off" more than their nfl counterparts. sure the guaranteed contracts mean something, but most of the time the nfl bonus money is such that teams can't cut players anyway. but don't tell me players don't slack off in the nfl. randy moss walked off the field last year. terrel owens tanked his last year in san fran. many lineman (as pointed out by tmq himself) become turnstiles as soon as the game starts. yeah, for each of them there's a derick coleman in the nba collecting $12 mil/year but it's not like they don't exist in the nfl. the entire redskins team quit on steve spurrier 2 years in a row. that's a whole team "slacking off". so yeah, i think it's a generalization that is unfair and wrong. plus, it plays to the awful
stereotype of the "thuggish, doesn't care about anyone, nigger" that apparently dominates the nba. it's racist and wrong to make those assumptions. and it's even worse to perpetrate them on a website as popular as nfl.com.

i think the fact that i don't gamble also keeps my interest in the nfl down. but really, when your sport's popularity is based on degenerates doing something illegal in most states, well, then there's something wrong with your sport.

Y - I don't think it's a generalization nor is it racist. While some star NFL players may slack off, only a handful have made that apparent. But in the NFL only elite players can get away with it at all! In the NBA, guys who are borderline NBA players end up with long term deals and hog up roster space. Also guys who are too old and would otherwise get cut get years on their contracts beyond their ability to play at a high level. If the NFL equivalent of Jerome James didn't play hard, he'd get cut in a heartbeat. Or if the NFL Austin Croshere didn't play well, he'd get cut too. But the real Jerome James is locked up for 6 years. The uber-elite NFL players constitute a massive cap hit when cut within 2 years of the deal. But essentially, most NFL contracts function for 3 "real" years anyway. So even if an NFL Croshere didn't live up to the contract, they could cut him and take the short-term hit at any time. But in the NBA, they can't clear him off the books for 6 years. Not only that, if an NFL Jerome James or Latrell Spreewell-type player "dogged it", the team would just suspend him and not pay him (in essence, "Keyshawn" him). So you really can't dog it too much.

It really isn't about race. I saw Blazers, Bobcats, and Hawks teams that quit 2/3 through the season with plenty of white guys. And there's been plenty of white busts on long term deals too. It's really an issue of money and job security. In the NBA, you generally make more money and it is more secure. In the NFL, you make less money and it is less secure, plus it's harder to get more money with the hard cap. In the NBA, you can play one good year at the end of your contract (or in James' case, 4 good games) and still get tons more cash. To suggest that this occurs equally in both leagues is foolish.

the popularity of MOST sports is based on something that's illegal in ALL states - steroids! without them, there wouldn't be nimble 300-pounders to play the O and D lines, nor tons of massiver homers, nor Shaq! gambling may be a degenerate activity, but it is not cheating!

S - it is a terrible generalization to say that nba players slack off while nfl counterparts don't. maybe it's because there are only 16 nfl games that people somehow believe everyone is giving their all. but they're not. you watch more than enough nfl games to see players slacking. so many of them just give up during the season. they give
up on their coach, their team, their teammates, everyone. it's a fact. i'm not saying that nba players don't as well, but claiming that you know percentages because you read tmq is silly.

and it is racist just becaus of the basis of the sentence. since you want to use bell curves, i'll use those overlapping "none, some, most, all" circles. and look at this like someone with no knowledge.

most nba players slack off. most nba players are black.

you make the connection.

plus, you're making a seperate argument. you're saying some players aren't worth the money they were given, which is true. but you also claim that all the players that make more than they're worth is because they don't give the effort, which is false. autin croshere was a big part of the larry bird coached teams in indiana. they signed him to a big contract. when isiah took over as coach, they redid the team and croshere was no longer a big part. yet it wasn't about effort, it was about talent. anytime croshere gets into the game he gives his all (as evidenced by his performance this past year). same with someone like greg buckner. he plays hard, he just wasn't talented. and both of those players are on playoff teams. so obviously those teams weren't hampered too much. it isn't a question of effort, it's of talent. meanwhile, warren sapp has neither the talent nor effort and still gets paid.

and you're again making generalizations about those teams. certainly josh smith, josh childress, and even antoine walker never quit last year. brevin knight, primoz, and emeka never quit. and you have no argument that joel przybilla quit. nor sebastian telfair. many players on those teams played hard till the end. just because theo ratliff decided he forgot how to play basketball doesn't mean the whole team quit. just because zach randolph re-inforces every stereotype doesn't mean his team quit. sure there were players on every team that quit and stopped giving effort. but look at both leagues as a whole, most professional athletes don't just quit no matter the sport. and i can almost guarantee that the percentages of "quitters" are the same. it isn't foolish to think that. it's naiveto think otherwise.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Day of Carpetblogging

Love For the Owls

As any regular reader should know, we here at A Fantasy Life hold the Temple Owl Basketball team, players, and alumni as the highest of the high. Temple Basketball was always the one team that I rooted for, and therefore it's always good to see some of them getting their just desserts. So it was with great joy this morning when I checked ESPN and saw Ric Bucher's article on former Temple Point Guard and current NBA journeyman Rick Brunson. Brunson was the point guard for the Owls teams that featured wing players Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones. Bucher details Brunson's constant effort to remain as an NBA player. Take a look, it's a good read.

Every Year It's the Same Thing

I don't know when sportswriters will get it. Somehow everyone knows not to mention a no-hitter during a game. But sportswriters will never learn not to mention how good Ken Griffey, Jr. looks. It's amazing and made even worse because somehow the guy's always on my fantasy team. Last year, Griff had 20 homers before the All Star break and Eric Neel of Page 2 wrote an article talking about his great comeback. Then he blew out his knee. This year, he'd made it even longer, taking a +.300 BA and 35 home runs into September. Then Jerry Crasnick decided to write an article extolling the virtues of Griffey. Last night, Griffey left the Reds' game in the 12th inning with a sprained foot and is out day-to-day. Not only that, but it's the first week of the playoffs and I could really use the guy in my lineup. Thanks Jerry.

Naive Morning Quarterback

Gregg Easterbrook, known as TMQ (Tuesday Morning Quarterback) on NFL.com is a very popular football writer. He uses a great deal of humor, pop culture references, and science stories to spice up perhaps the longest weekly football article to be found on the internet. However, as entertaining as he can be, it's also a little bit infuriating to read. Easterbrook has gone on record with his article blasting both baseball and basketball, talking about how they are poorly run and poorly played. Then he will go on extolling the virtues of football in all ways, with never a bad thing to say. And every once in a while it makes him sound like an idiot. So this year, I will be going out of my way to point out any idiotic statements TMQ makes. This past's week's was a pretty good one.

In it, Easterbrook was speaking of the growing weight problems exemplified by NFL starting lineman and said...

Pro football players gain muscle mass by relentless pumping of iron and by force-feeding themselves steaks, tuna, protein shakes; steroids are not a factor, as the NFL tests for them regularly. Via weight lifting and heroic eating, bulk can be gained the old-fashioned way, without drugs.


Which is naive if only because recently 5 members of the Super Bowl Runner Up Carolina Panthers were caught as to having steroid subscriptions, but also because John Welbourn, a member of the Kansas City Cheifs offensive line (whom TMQ has many times applauded) was suspended for 4 games for failing the NFL's Steroid Policy.

So a special note to Mr. Easterbrook, it's OK if you want to be a football fan. It's another to be naive and stupid. For further articles, please do your research, I'm watching you.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I Guess It's Time to Be the Dissenting Opinion Again...

So, it was announced today that the Denver Broncos will cut Maurice Clarett. Clarett, the enigma that helped Ohio State win a National Title, then tried to enter the NFL before spending 3 years out of high school (the NFL rule), was the 3rd Round Draft choice of the Broncos in this past year's draft. It was highly thought amongst experts that Clarett in Round 3 was a bit of a stretch, but with their history with running backs, and the knowledge that their next pick was in Round 6, Denver took a chance on him. Today's cut makes all those experts smile.

I'm not sure why, all they did was predict the downfall of a confused 21 year old man. Now, let's not dwell on what may or may not have happened at Ohio State, whether or not Clarett was given cars and money, whether or not he ever went to class. Instead what we should look at now is how he was summarily disregarded by everyone related to the NFL and the possibility that this cut was just part of a massive blacklist against Clarett.

Obviously everything written here is just my opinion, I have no proof that the NFL would blacklist Clarett, just speculation. Admittedly, Clarett did not perform well in this, his rookie camp, and didn't make it past #4 on the depth chart. But here's the thing to remember, the kid hasn't played football or even really practiced football in over 2 years. What was expected from him? Did Mike Shannahan think he was going to get a superstar who could put on pads in game situation for the first time in years and be productive? I would hope he's smarter than that. But the saddest thing about all of this is that not only did no one give him his chance in the right way, but it seems like everyone is happy that he failed.

Here is a kid who challenged the system. He challenged a rule (that in my opinion is wrong), intially won, then had the had the ruling reversed. The NFL did not want this kid in the league. He didn't play by the rules and they needed to make an example of him. Not one member of the NFL media truly came out on his side. Not one of them thought he would be successful in the NFL. So what happens to Clarett? He ends up getting drafted at a position that everyone seems to agree is too high for him. But he gets taken by a Running Back Factory, where no matter who gets the ball, it seems like they end up with a 1500 yard season (and a career ending knee injury), so it's easily the best place for him to go right? Well, not when the team has 4 other backs who have each spent time as an NFL team's feature back. And people wonder why he couldn't crack the top 4. HE HASN'T PLAYED FOOTBALL IN 2 YEARS!!! I don't understand how anyone could have drafted him and not realized that he was going to need a little extra time. Even worse for him now, is that teams will look at his inability to learn and get back into football mode quickly in Denver and think he'll never be able to get it. This is a kid who deserves a chance, he deserves some time.

And if he fails with the proper chances, THEN people can talk about how much he sucks.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The List Returns.

So I was sitting around trying to think of something to post about this week. And I thought and I thought. All I succeeded in doing was hurting my head. Thinking is not fun. So during a week where nothing of importance happened (and yes, that includes the much anticipated injury to Correll Buckhalter), I decided to pull out an old favorite. So, for the first time since before the baseball season started, it's time to pull out the...

MLB Players Who Get Manlove List

5. Shawn Chacon, SP, NYY - I guess leaving Colorado really is helpful for pitchers. The Yankees were desperate for starting pitching and took a chance on the pitcher known as Shaq. Unlike his namesake playing basketball for Miami, Chacon was wallowing trying to pitch in Colorado. Somehow since coming to the Yankees, Chacon is 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. I doubt it'll last long, but for right now Shawn Chacon gets some manlove. If you were somehow as deperate as the Yankees with your fantasy team and added Chacon when he came over you really lucked out. Enjoy it while it lasts.

4. Placido Polanco, 2B, Det. - Everyone knew Polanco could play. The problem was that the Phillies were tied to Chase Utley at 2B and David Bell at 3B, so they had to move Polanco. Detroit gladly accepted him. Since coming over to Detroit Polanco has not stopped hitting. He's batting over .350 since joining the Tigers (.365 in the last month with 14R and 12 RBIs). If the rest of the team could get on base more often he'd be even more valuable. But for now, enjoy his tremendous BA and give him some manlove.

3. Jeff Francoeur, OF, Atl - I didn't even know who this guy was until Tim Keown mentioned him in an article a few weeks ago. Not sure how I missed him because no one else did. All he does is hit. Boy is absolutely amazing. In the last month he's batting .355 with 23R, 7HR, and 22RBIs. Not only that but he has the speed that people are predicting 30-30 possibilities for him. It must be said that he never takes a pitch and strikes out a whole lot. So the thought that he's going to bat .355 forever is a little silly. But he gets some manlove now and there is the potential that he'll be getting it for many more years.

2. Gary Matthews, Jr. OF, Tex. - He's got great genetics and all the tools. But amazingly, for as long as he's been in the league, the only time I've heard his name on Sportscenter or in the paper was when he was making a great catch in the field or getting cut. Seems he's finally found a home, because in the last month Gary is on fire. He's batting .327 with a 1.051 OPS, 9HRs, 19R, and 20RBIs, and is ranked in the top 10 amongst American League batters. He always got it because of his father's connection to Philly, but now he's earning his manlove with his bat.

1. David Wright, 3B, NYM - I just plain love this guy. I mean, he's just amazing. Batting .380 (!!!) in the last month with 6HRs, 6SBs, 24R, and 31RBIs, Wright is unstoppable. He's so good that he's ranked #1 in my NL-only league for that time period. On the season he's batting over .300 with 80+ R and RBIs and even 14 SBs. And even though it pains me to do put a Met #1 on any list, I can't deny David Wright his spot on the Manlove list.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Amnesty National...

So It's Amnesty Week in the NBA, and all teams in the association have this one time chance to rid themselves of one bad contract. Marc Stein of ESPN has written all about the rules of the Amnesty Clause, but the main point is that this cut will not affect the team's Salary Cap total, but instead will prevent teams from having to pay the dollar for dollar luxury tax. Most of the casualties of the Amnesty Clause were well known in advance, but there were some surprises and it certainly leaves us with some interesting things to talk about.

So, um... Even Though This is My Party, I Still Can't Attend?

Ever since it was brought up as a possibility, this Amnesty Clause was refered to as the "Alan Houston Rule." Houston is generally considered to have the worst contract in the NBA, paying him somewhere around $20 million per year. Which is a lot for someone who's always hurt, can't play defense, and isn't even a starter anymore. Yet somehow, after the Amnesty Cut day, Alan Houston was still a member of the Knicks. As ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote, "only Isiah Thomas could screw up the Allan Houston Rule and waive someone other than Allan Houston." Instead the Knicks cut Jerome Williams, someone who hustles, rebounds, and plays defense the way new coach Larry Brown likes. I don't think anything could make me happier than watching the Knicks AND Larry Brown go down in flames this year.

Junk Yard Dog Should Set Up Shop In Philly

It may take a little more than the Sixers have left, and with the loss of Willie Green for (at least) the first half of the season the backcourt is more of a need than the frontcourt, but I would really like to see the Sixers put the rest of their FA money together and make Williams an offer. This is the type of player that would solidify the frontcourt. As mentioned above, he hustles, plays defense, and rebounds incredibly well. Aside from that, he is not foul, nor injury prone. On a frontline with Chris Webber's one knee, Rodney Rogers gut and errant shot, and two incredibly foul prone shot blocking centers, Williams would be a dependant source of minutes and contributions. He won't fill up the stat sheet, but you always know when the Junk Yard Dog is on the court.

It's Official - No More Owls

The Sixers made one cut with the Amnesty Clause as well, the expected cut of Aaron McKie. This is espeically sad since McKie is a Philly native who played his high school and college ball in the city. For years he was considered a bit of a draft day bust, until he came home and resurrected his career with the Sixers by winning the 6th Man of the Year Award. Here at A Fantasy Life we wish Aaron the best. It was rumored that the Nets were seriously looking to add McKie to their roster.

On a similar note - It was reported in the Inquirer today (registration required) that former Temple star David Hawkins has been one of the best performers in the recent Sixer's mini-camp. Hawkins is said to have made a good impression on new coach Mo Cheeks. With the aforementioned lack of depth in the backcourt, perhaps it would be nice to see Hawkins make the team. Last year he was the final player cut from the Houston Rockets, let's hope this year he makes it past that stage with the Sixers.

So Was There Anyone Important on the List?

With all this talk, it may seem like there was no one from these Amnesty Cuts who would make an impact anywhere. And mostly, that assumption would be correct. For the most part the players who were cut were old and unproductive. But there were a few "names" that ended up getting cut that teams have gone after. The biggest name to be cut was the Dallas Mavericks' Michael Finley. Finley has numerous suitors going after him. While he is getting up there in years, Finley is still a productive player and will assuredly end up on a championship contender. The Rumor has him going to either Detroit, Miami, or Phoenix.

Other name players who were cut were Doug Christie (from Orlando, already signed to Dallas), Brian Grant (cut from the Lakers and already signed to the Suns), and Derek Anderson (cut from Portland).

None of the names aside from Finley will make a real impact in the league or fantasy next year. The full list of players cut can be found here.



Thursday, August 11, 2005

Another Season, Another Reason...

Owls Are Now Officially an Endangered Species

What better way to start off this week's discussion than with some Sixers talk. But the news is bittersweet at best. Local product (and A Fantasy Life favorite) Marc Jackson was traded by the Sixers to conference foe New Jersey for a future 2nd round pick. Jackson was a big producer on last year's Sixers team, as a sometimes starting center and quality bench performer at both big positions. In only 24 minutes a game, Jackson produced to the tune of 12 pts and 5 rebounds. Even more importantly, he provided the Sixers with a solid low post scoring option that could almost get to the free throw line at will (almost 4.5 per game) and made 82% of them. It's even sadder because Jackson was only 1 of 2 Temple Owls on the Sixers, and with the Sixers expected to waive Aaron McKie with the Amnesty Clause, it appears we'll have none left soon.

Still, this was a move that needed to be made. With Chris Webber on the team, the Sixers really couldn't afford another big man with limited athleticism. When the two of them played together last year, the defense became incredibly slow in rotations. Between the two of them, they had no vertical leap and maybe one truly healthy knee. With the need to make Webber a bigger part of the team this year, the Sixers needed to improve their frontcourt athleticism and to make that happen Marc Jackson had to leave. It was glorious watching him play in front of the home town fans the past two years and here at A Fantasy Life we wish him the best. Just let it be said here first that they should have been able to get more from him and sending big men to your divisional foes is never a good idea.

So, How Long Do We Have to Wait for His Replacement?

Not long apparently. The Sixers have announced that they have signed the 7 foot tall (now) former Phoenix Sun, Stephen Hunter. This immediately improves the frontcourt athleticism, however it does come with its own inherent problems. The Sixers 3 major backcourt players now figure to be Webber, Dalembert, and Hunter. Webber is an incredible basketball player, but is known to be brittle. Dalembert is still very raw and prone to mistakes. And Hunter, who like Dalembert is a shot blocker, is also young and very prone to picking up fouls. In only 14 minutes per game last year, Hunter blocked 1.3 shots, but picked up 1.7 personal fouls. Anyone who has seen him play knows how energetic he can be. He runs the floor well and has a good defensive mind. If Mo Cheeks can get him to play under control, this could be a great signing. If Webber gets hurt and Dalembert stays raw and Hunter is still injury prone, they may have to move Kyle Korver to the 4.

Baseball Blurb

Normally I leave the Phillies ramblings to my buddy Jason Weitzel over at Beerleaguer, but it's been over a week and I still can't get the thought out of my head. Last Wednesday, the Phillies defeated the Chicago Cubs in a game in which their final offensive player in the bottom of the 9th inning struck out. That's right, it was a tie game when Pat Burrel stepped up to the plate. Then he struck out. Then they won. I guess a win's a win, but that's pushing it.

Wait Long Enough and It'll All Sort Itself Out

I have not mentioned the Terrell Owens vs. the Philadelphia Eagles saga yet here on this site. I've tried to stay away from discussing it. Really have, but the events of the last 2 days are taking it too far. Let it be said right now, I am pro-T.O. 100% behind him. Dude caught 150 yards worth of passes in the Super Bowl on a broken leg. The year before Donovan McNabb couldn't complete a pass against the Carolina Panthers with a broken rib. The guy deserves more money. He really does. But once again, the Eagles stubborn refusal to renegotiate contracts is causing problems. And now the one thing that they have been able to keep from causing a problem, namely the seperation of Andy Reid the coach with Andy Reid the vice-president, is getting in the way. Now Andy can't play the good guy anymore. He's the one who is has to deal with T.O. And T.O. won't forget that Andy is the one who won't give him the new contract when T.O. is at practice. So now everyone is backed into a corner because Andy couldn't handle T.O. anymore and sent him home.

So there's a few things that everyone needs to realize:

1. Most importantly, the Eagles have no depth at receiver. They have T.O. and that's it. With Todd Pinkston out (I'm reminded of that old tree falling in the woods analogy), and with no T.O. the depth chart reads: Greg Lewis, Billy McMullin, and Reggie Brown. Not exactly names that strike fear into the hearts of defenses. The Eagles either need T.O. or need to turn him into another receiver.
2. Andy must realize that T.O. doesn't play nice soldier. He will talk to the media (mostly because the media likes to talk to him). He will speak his mind. And he will make inciteful comments.
3. T.O. needs to realize that there is no other team in the NFL that will give him his money right now. Especially after this whole fiasco. It just won't happen. He's got to play out this year. It must be done. Right now no one remembers his amazing season, no one remembers his heroic Super Bowl performance. They only know him as the guy who practices by himself, doesn't talk to teammates, and won't sign autographs.
4. Drew Rosenhaus needs to realize what an ass he is making himself look like.

Is there an easy answer to this connundrum? Not at all. It's going to take until he catches his first touchdown pass for this to start blowing over. Because once you start performing again, everyone loves you.

You Hear That Last Line Raffy?

Rafael Palmiero is done serving his suspension. Period. Now all he has to handle are possible perjury charges. Period. Palmiero got caught lying and then lied some more about it. Period. At least now we know why he needed Viagra, all those steroids made him impotent. Period. Seriously dude, you have just gone from poster boy to laughing stock and no one likes you anymore. Period.

And Finally - You're Fired.

I once allowed Marc Rachild to provide a guest post with some fantasy football insight. No more. Not after he drafted Jake Plummer in the 7th round of a fantasty football draft ahead of Brett Favre, Carson Palmer, and Matt Hasselback. Of course, now in the week he plays me Jake will throw for 300+ and 4 tds.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Signing Day is Here!!

Well, after numerous delays in finalizing the new NBA collective bargaining agreement, today is officially the day when free agents are allowed to sign their new contracts. There have been many free agents who have already agreed upon deals with their old or new teams. There's been a few interesting items that need to be mentioned, and now that people are allowed to sign, what better a time to discuss.

Slow Down There Willie...
As discussed here already, The Sixers had already agreed to terms with each of their restricted free agents. However, today provided an interesting dilemma as it was disclosed that Willie Green needs knee surgery. So while Willie Green was at the Press Conference today, he did not join Kyle Korver and Samuel Dalembert in signing their new contracts.

Why didn't Willie sign the contract? Well, it turns out he didn't pass the physical. At this point in time, I'd say it's fairly obvious that the Sixers will still honor Willie with his contract (despite the wishes of A Fantasy Life readers). They had planned on giving him a very expanded role under new coach Mo Cheeks, who, along with Allen Iverson and Billy King, expressed sympathy for Willie and hoped him the best.

Here at A Fantasy Life though, my optimism has been greatly diminished. Here is a player that everyone spoke highly of, that supposedly dealt positively with his role on the team last year, and as soon as the first signs appear that he's going to be an important part of the team, he makes a rash decision and hurts himself. One must wonder if Jim O'Brien actually had good reasons for keeping Willie on the bench.

Seriously Joe... The Hawks?!?!

OK, so Joe Johnson is seen as an important part of the winningest team in the NBA last season. In the offseason, the same team decides that they will do anything to resign Johnson. They trade away his 3-point shooting running mate (Quentin Richardson) to free up the money to resign him. The Atlanta Hawks took a chance and agreed to sign Johnson to a maximum contract, which the Suns had the chance to match to keep him. The Suns decided he was worth it and had planned on matching said maximum contract. So therefore, Joe Johnson, who was exiled from Boston for sucking, had the chance to make the most money he could AND play for a team many thought would be at the top of the Western Conference and what does he do? He does what no other player would do.

Johnson told the Suns he wanted to play for the Hawks. He wanted to leave a winning team where he would have to differ to talented players like Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire to join a perennial loser in Atlanta where he would be the star player. No one but Joe Johnson understands this decision. NO ONE. Atlanta has some good young players, but no one saw this as a team that was really on the rise. Based on the money they'll be paying him, Johnson is now undoubtedly "The Man" in Atlanta. He'll be asked to lead the youngsters into the playoffs and teach them how to win. To me it seems like a lot of money to be giving someone who has had his one season as a contributor to a winning team.

In terms of fantasy though, Johnson's move is wonderful news. He'll be asked to do the same things he did in Phoenix, just a lot more of them. Expect the only statistic to decrease to be his shooting percentage, because of the coming increase in his number of shots. Johnson now goes from a 6th rounder to a 3rd or 4th rounder, with the potential to put up top 20 numbers.

Where's the Dap for the Baby Bulls?

Honestly, Joe Johnson gets a max deal from the Hawks and Tyson and Eddy can't get a sniff of a deal? How does this make sense? Tyson and Eddy are two of the best young big men and were integral parts of the Bulls success last year. Eddy can be a dominating low post offensive force, and Tyson's easily one of the best post defenders in the league. Now I can see how Eddy's heart problems would give some teams worry towards giving him a long term and big money deal, but Tyson led the league in 4th quarter blocks and rebounds.

This is one of those situations where it seems like the Bulls are scaring other teams away from making offers to these two youngsters by promising to match any deal. It seems that Tyson is almost guaranteed to return to Chicago. At this point, it's about 50/50 that I'll be forced to buy a new Eddy Curry jersey.