(Image courtesy of graphicleftovers.com)
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Meanwhile, the other half of the title game is yet to be determined. With a number of undefeated teams remaining, and a few one-loss schools looking to nab the spot, here's a closer look at what the future holds for the teams hanging on to a spotless record.
As always, my College Sports Madness Profile page is teeming with articles about the football and upcoming basketball season.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Stringer Bell, or as he is occasionally referred to, Idris Elba, and Omar Little (Michael K. Williams) have recently gained something else in common. Besides being influential cogs on HBO's groundbreaking series The Wire, they have both been employed by NBC sitcoms in the famed Thursday night comedy block. While Elba had been employed at Dunder Mifflin Paper on The Office for a number of episodes a few seasons back, Williams has just been hired as the new biology teacher at Greendale on Community. This begs the question: which former king of the streets is the best office-dweller?
The argument for who is the best character from The Wire is never-ending. Stringer was fantastic, calculated, evil, entrepreneurial and everything else you would want from the man calling the shots behind Avon Barksdale. Omar, on the other hand, was memorable, inspiring, heroic, and, frankly, bad-ass. He was the perfect lone star, running the streets without need of posse or muscle, just the soothing tones of a whistled nursery rhyme. There is no wrong answer for who was the better character. More accurately, there is no Right answer.
However, moving to a life of books and policy and mission statements may leave us with a different outcome. It is still much too soon to tell since Michael K. Williams has just started his first semester at Greendale but he has an awful lot to live up to.
As Charles Miner on The Office, Idris Elba took over control of the Scranton paper company for half a season. He was installed to create an atmosphere of productivity and seriousness that was lacking under current management. What he ended up bringing was his tremendous American accent, his stoic demeanor in even the most outrageous situations and, oddly, the love of both soccer and volleyball. Stringer will be hard to top here.
What we need out of Omar this season on Community is more than he may be capable of. Only more biology classes will tell us for sure. In the mean time, let us bask in the glory that is typecast actors working in roles we are not used to seeing them in and not being able to separate them from where we know them and loved them. By the way, when does Dominic West start shooting that children's cartoon?
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Here I cover everything from player draft profiles to team season previews and weekly game outlooks. Check out my profile here, where I have written nearly 50 articles up to this point.
Monday, August 8, 2011
1. The top five reasons people hate PDA (public displays of affection).
(this one's a trick question, since there is no good reason to hate something so wonderful)
2. The top ten unofficial holidays / locals only holidays.
(my vote is for Marathon Monday in Boston)
3. The top ten ugly people that Hollywood wants us to believe are attractive.
4. The top twenty excuses for forgetting your own birthday.
(I say excuses because I refuse to believe any one actually does this)
5. The top one hundred moments in history 'they' don't want us to know about.
6. The top twenty things to do on the internet.
(this could be utterly boring and predictable, or surprisingly disgusting)
7. The top ten mixed breeds of dogs.
(imagine if we started calling humans mix breeds, or like Mexinese for Mexican Chinese)
8. The top five places to read the Sports Pinata'
(these have to be different places, they can't all be the bathroom)
Saturday, August 6, 2011
When it comes to drafting a kicker in fantasy football, there are two accepted schools of thought. Either you take a kicker with your very last pick/dollar or you are an idiot.
The reason a kicker should be selected dead last and never before is because the value is not there to take one any other time. Even using your second to last pick on a kicker instead of a late-round sleeper makes no sense. Go ahead and select a sleeper you have your eye on; there is no reason to risk missing out on that value when another kicker will be there for you after the jump.
To mathematically examine the wastefulness of drafting a kicker before the last round, let’s first make a generous and most likely incorrect assumption. Let’s say, even though it is highly unlikely, you are able to know who will be the very best fantasy kicker before the season begins. Not only is this impossible, but I’ll even throw you that bone because it still doesn’t mean that man should be taken ahead of a player at another position.
Last year’s number one, across the board, best kicker was Nate Kaeding. He did not finish anywhere close to being the number one kicker. But let’s somehow assume you were able to look into the future and KNOW Sebastian Janikowski would be the best fantasy kicker in the league in 2010, which he was.
First of all, what a terrible skill to be able to look into the future and use it for nothing more than knowing the best fantasy kicker. Secondly, it still wouldn’t have been prudent to draft him anywhere before your very last pick. Depending on your league settings, Janikowski scored roughly 10 points per week (~150 points spread over 16 games because of his bye week). Meanwhile, the 12th ranked kicker, the worst possible kicker you would start in a full, 12-team league because no one would be employing two kickers together, was Mason Crosby last season. He scored about 120 fantasy points or about eight points per fantasy week.
This means that if you were somehow able to know the future, draft the very best possible kicker for the upcoming season, and employed him all year long, you would only have gotten two points per week over the team with the very worst starting kicker in your league, two measly points.
In other news, here is a short list of some of the players drafted in the final few rounds of drafts last year, i.e. players that could have been taken if you hadn’t wasted your pick on a kicker: Darren McFadden, Austin Collie, Josh Freeman, Brandon Lloyd, Peyton Hillis, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mike Williams and Michael Vick. That is all.
Read my colleague's counter argument here, courtesy of The Sports Information & Reports Network.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Ten years, eight films, billions upon billions of dollars and the Harry Potter movie franchise has finally reached its conclusion. The penultimate film left something to be desired, as part ones are prone to do, yet the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two was a solid and satisfying piece, perhaps the best film of the entire franchise.
It started with a bit of “previous on Harry Potter” vibe. Voldemort was shown towering over the casket and corpse of the deceased head master, with the Elder Wand in his grasp. The sky lit up with his jubilation and part two was ready to take off.
Unlike many of the previous films, 7.2 finally got the pace and tempo correct. Where all the previous films often felt rushed, especially compared to their novel version, this one actually felt like a smoothly flowing cinematic experience. The reasoning for this was a logical avoidance of plot rather than a helter-skelter rushed/forced plot development.
The main casualty of this was the battle at Hogwarts. Where, in the book, this takes up many action-packed pages, the movie instead uses it as a background event while the rest of the film is taking place. Frankly, if not comparing it directly to its book counterpart, it works very well. The movie had enough action and adventure to stand on its own without the Hogwarts fighting. It also was able to seamlessly make us aware of things that happened during the battle, i.e. people getting killed, without forcing the specific scenes upon us.
The ending was as campy and off-putting as it was in the book version. In my humble opinion, they probably could have done without it entirely, although that would have brought about the vitriol of novel enthusiasts all over the world.
However, the ending to the action, in the movie, left something to be desired as well. Voldemort perished into oblivion with a simple flick away of his wand, floating into the ether shredded like pieces of paper. Perhaps it was fitting but it left a bit of an empty feeling in my stomach. Didn’t the greatest dark wizard who ever lived deserve a more phantasmagorical big bang and classic movie death?
There were other minor complaints, like how Ginny Weasley was essentially nonexistent in this film, but these can be forgiven. Whereas all the previous Potter films seemed to be trying to force the novel into cinema, the Deathly Hallows Part Two instead seemed to be taking the storyline and turning it into a movie, a slight technical difference but one that proves major in the end.
The by-product of this was the ability to concentrate on specific plot elements and excel in scenes such as the viewing of Snape's memories and the searching for the lost diadem.
Nothing is perfect, especially adaptations, yet this seemed a fitting end to a powerful and influential movie franchise, the highest grossing franchise in the history of film.
(Image courtesy of J.K. Rowling's novel cover art)
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
The New York Mets have already dealt their closer Francisco Rodriguez, their outfielder Carlos Beltran and may not be done. The St. Louis Cardinals threw away talented and young outfielder Colby Rasmus for pitching depth. Players such as Heath Bell, Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Pena may be on the move any day now, any minute now.
Baseball's trade deadline is an exciting time for teams on either end of the spectrum. Losing teams are able to work off some high priced vets for hopeful, young talent. Teams in contention are able to find that one missing piece that may lead them to autumn glory. The unhappiest fans bases are always of the teams that stand pat, do nothing major while their biggest rivals are wheeling and dealing.
Entirely coincidentally, the very same weekend of MLB's trade deadline, the NFL finally opened its doors and Free Agent Frenzy has commenced as if blood was in the water. Only a day after an agreement had been collectively bargained, big names already have new homes. Quarterbacks with something to prove, Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck, already have brand new starting gigs to fight for. While some skill position players have elected to re-sign with their old teams, like Santonio Holmes and DeAngelo Williams, others are either still waiting to make their move or have already moved on. Sidney Rice just signed on to be a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
It is easy to be overwhelmed this week, as a sports fan. There is a lot of movement to follow, deals going down hour after hour. While one baseball team gets their man, a football team inks a player to a new, huge contract. It has never happened like this before, dueling deadlines, and yet it is exciting and thrilling, adjectives not always used to describe off-season or mid-season roster movement.
So in a time when past years have brought us nothing more than NFL teams running two-a-days in preparation for the Hall of Fame Game and MLB teams had closed their wallets and tightened their colons, 2011 has been witness to a coming together that would rival Omar and Brother Mouzone. Football is offering us sports fans the wildest whirl of player movement we have ever seen. At the same time, baseball is reaching a perfect storm of teams ready to deal and knowing whether they are buyers or sellers. I, for one, could not be more excited.
Friday, July 22, 2011
With the lockout winding down, a CBA ready to take hold of NFL business minds and free agency on the horizon, there are a number of highly regarded, talented players who have no home. With the oft referenced frenzy that will come once teams are allowed to speak with free agents, many a player could swing their value based on who they decide to sign with. Here are a number of players with the most to gain or the most to lose based on their desired home for the 2011-2012 season.
To find out why and read the rest of the list, visit The Sports Information & Reports Network.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Welcome to the NFC South, also known as, the Crapshoot. Last year, the Atlanta Falcons ran away with the division with a 13-3 record and the number one seed in the conference. The year before, New Orleans took hold of the South, also finishing as the number one seed with an identical 13-3 record. In 2008, it was Carolina’s turn to finish as the division winner, as they went 12-4 on the year. The prior season, in 2007, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the NFC South albeit with an average 9-7 record.
For the folks with a very short attention span, let’s recap. In the past four seasons, in a division made up of four teams, there have been four different winners.
Taking this a step further....
For the rest of this division preview go here, the Sports Information & Reports Network.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
The ageless Mariano Rivera was going to hold down the fort in the ninth inning, like always. Much to the chagrin of GM Brian Cashman, the Yankees also brought in free agent Rafael Soriano to pitch the eighth inning and collect oodles of cash to do so. The Yankees' favorite son, Joba Chamberlain, would also be a member of the pen after relieving, starting and relieving again. He would most assuredly be given the seventh inning as his own. Throw in the Damaso Martes, Boone Logans and Pedro Felicianos as lefty matchup pitchers and the Yankees bullpen was filled to the brink, pushing David Robertson to the sixth inning against right handed batters if the starter got knocked out early: not exactly a plush role.
Fast forward to Independence Day....
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Saying the Pittsburgh Pirates have a losing record at home and a negative run differential for the season makes it seem like the 2011 Pirates are the same as the 2010 Pirates and every other version for the past two decades or so.
In truth, the 2011 Pirates are a game over .500 and are not like any previous Pirates team since the turn of the century. They are, in actuality, the 2010 Padres.
Winning with smoke, mirrors and pitching is a formula that will take them all the way to a disappointing finish come September and another year of the playoffs being played without them....
Check out the rest of this article here at The Sports Information & Reports Network.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
I am not a music savant or critic. I can hardly be called musically literate for that matter. I played the saxophone for a few years in middle school and I can play the chorus to “In the Jungle” on a piano for some reason.
I am not really a fan of rock or metal. My knowledge of the genre stems from nothing more than reading Chuck Klosterman essays.
Music does not “speak to me.” I hear all the time how someone is moved by a song or hears lyrics that touch their soul. I missed out on this form of elation somehow. The closest I usually come to being moved by a song is getting my foot to tap with the beat…with one exception.
Metallica’s Enter Sandman is a song that will live with me for as long as I live, a song that brings out feelings of excitement and anticipation, feelings that have almost nothing to do with the score or melody.
Enter Sandman has become my sports national anthem through no fault of my own. It has happened because I grew up through the 90’s loving the New York Yankees and I went to college at Virginia Tech: two teams that have no correlation to one another and would have no conceivable connection at all if it wasn’t for Metallica’s hit.
Since the mid-1990’s, Mariano Rivera has been the closer for the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees. As baseball fans know, each closer has a song they enter to, much as each batter has walk-up music that plays when they come to the plate. In Rivera’s case, he chose Enter Sandman as his entrance theme, one that displays his power and finesse, oozing excitement. Mariano Rivera has run in from the bullpen to the mound to this specific song nearly 1,000 times since joining the Yankees. I have been in the stands for a few and watched on television for hundreds more. Any time Enter Sandman plays that feeling plays with it. Mariano is coming in, the greatest closer in baseball history. The other team is doomed. Victory is ours. That’s what Enter Sandman represents.
That would have been enough for me, enough for one song. However, upon graduating high school early in the 2000s, I chose to attend Virginia Tech for my undergraduate degree. My first visit into Lane Stadium for a football game revealed more than I was anticipating. Every game, the Virginia Tech Hokies run out onto the field to Enter Sandman.
It even goes beyond being an entrance song though. Enter Sandman is a school tradition. Prior to the team running through the tunnel, the song picks up in the stands, every student starts jumping. We jump, we yell, the fervor building. When the Hokies finally burst out onto the field, the crowd is raring to go. I experienced this every home football game for four years until I graduated.
As is the case with these things, the basketball team also used Enter Sandman to jack up crowds. It was pulled out in strategic places, at opportune times, to get the crowd juiced. Anytime that tune came on, it was like a Pavlov’s Dog reaction. We are Hokies and we know what to do when Metallica comes on.
Years later now, I don’t sleep with one eye open as the lyrics would suggest but Enter Sandman has a place in my heart that I never assumed a song could. If it comes on in a bar or at a random place, I get that thrill back, the anticipation of Rivera coming in to close out another Yankees win, the exhilaration of the Hokies booming onto the field to mash another opponent, and I always start jumping. Always.
(Image courtesy of metallica.ws)
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Francisco Liriano threw the first no-hitter of the 2011 Major League Baseball season. On the surface, this doesn't seem so bizarre. He has the reputation of being a good pitcher, with good stuff. However, at least this season, he isn't and he doesn't.
Liriano leads the league in walks. His ERA is over 6.5 even after the complete game shutout. And this no-hitter happened to be the first time he has ever completed a game in his career.
But that's baseball for you. Stats and numbers tell only part of the story, oftentimes the wrong part. Here are 20 more stats from the first month (and change) of the 2011 season, divided into what can be believed and what cannot.
Everything listed below is a complete fact. Just remember the popular Mark Twain quote, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics."
- Jose Bautista leads the
in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He has a 30:16 walks to strikeouts ratio and is hitting a home run every nine at-bats. AL
Let's just say I'm no longer in the camp that thinks last year was a fluke.
- Jorge Posada has cracked six home runs on the season, out of his 14 total hits.
Posada is no longer the hitter he used to be. The power is real but so is the average for the most part.
- The San Diego Padres are scoring 3.10 runs per game.
This would mean a quality start from their starter would almost certainly mean they are losing the game. With how bad they were last year WITH Adrian Gonzalez, this is sure to continue.
- Josh Johnson has allowed only 4.0 hits per nine innings pitched.
This is by far the best ratio in the league for qualified pitchers, and is no fluke since Johnson was the best pitcher in the league a year ago before he got hurt.
- Dexter Fowler is in the top five in the NL in both walks and strikeouts.
Kids these days...strikeouts are not a top concern of many hitters. The walks mean Fowler is a good batter with a good idea. The
- (Speaking of K's) Austin Jackson and Ryan Raburn have struck out a combined 81 times, nearly 37% of the Tigers' total strikeouts on the season.
No surprise here nothing to say it won't continue. Neither Jackson or Raburn make any attempt to cut down on their strikeouts.
- Alex Rodriguez ranks in the top 25 in all of baseball in slugging percentage at .537, yet that is only good enough for fifth on his own team.
Rodriguez is having a very nice season, as are many of this teammates. The Yankees should continue to mash the ball all year long even if the batting averages are low.
- Chris Young (AZ) has scored 20 runs already even though his OBP is below .265 and he's only stolen one base.
Although the steals are sure to pick up, the believable part is the high runs total with the low on-base. Young will never be a good OBP guy but with his speed and base-running ability, the runs will still be there.
- On the other hand, Jack Cust ranks in the top five in MLB in walks yet there are 236 players who have scored more runs than he has.
The combination of a terrible batting average and a very slow runner in the middle of a below average lineup means the walks will not translate to tons of runs being scored.
- Of the top 10 players in baseball in at-bats, seven of them have no more than five combined home runs and steals.
Essentially this means, the players getting the most at-bats have neither power nor speed. Teams are willing to accept this oftentimes if the player can consistently get on base.
I hesitate to label these "unbelievable" because that gives them a positive connotation that they do not deserve.
- Ian Desmond has the second most steals in the league with only a .279 OBP.
The classic example of something having to give. Desmond very well could continue racking up the steals, but not if his on-base doesn't improve. The steals chances will dry up quickly if he continues at a clip of .279.
- Brian Roberts has stolen third base this year more than he has stolen second.
Just one of those complete facts that is utterly ridiculous. Of course this won't continue.
- Juan Pierre has been caught stealing eight times, twice as many as any other ML player.
Although it is quite possible
- Adam Dunn, who has never had an OPS below .800 any season of his career, currently sits at .582, less than half of Jose Bautista's current OPS.
The injury early in April set Dunn back. He will get his bat back together soon enough.
- The Minnesota Twins have 935 at-bats as a team and 13 home runs. Alfonso Soriano has hit 11 home runs in 105 at-bats.
The Twins may certainly continue to stink. That is plausible. The part that will not continue is Soriano's year. He is not a 30 home run hitter anymore (let alone 50+) and is sure to slow this pace down.
- There are four pitchers who have as many wins as they do complete games.
Another oddity along the lines of Brian Roberts' steals numbers. If a pitcher is able to go deep into games, the wins will come, eventually.
- Prior to Liriano's no-hitter (since he now jumped to number one), none of the top seven pitchers in MLB in walks given up had a losing record.
This is perhaps the most unbelievable stat in baseball right now. Giving up walks almost always translates to losing games. It is the pet peeve of pitching coaches, the ultimate no-no of a young pitcher. Throwing strikes is what separates the Cliff Lees from the A.J. Burnetts.
- Conversely, there are only five qualified pitchers in baseball with a SO/9 of at least 10. Only two of them have a winning record.
Although there are strikeout pitchers who don't have great winning percentages, in general, striking out over 10 batters every nine innings is a sign of success.
- Matt Thornton has pitched only 9.1 innings yet already has a -1.3 WAR.
Since WAR is cumulative (the more outings/innings, the greater effect your numbers have), this is nearly impossible. Pitching so few innings and affecting your team this much in a negative way is too hard to keep up. The simple fact is that if he continues to this THIS bad, the White Sox won't let him pitch anymore.
- The Cleveland Indians, who finished 24 games under .500 last year, have played 28 games so far this season and already have at least a 10 game lead on both the Twins and the White Sox.
That's baseball for you.
(Image courtesy of the Associated Press - Chicago)
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I realize that online gaming is hugely popular, but popular for whom? My fondest memories of video games begin with playing NFL Gameday on the original Sony Playstation. You and a few friends would battle it out, raise the stakes, and play some more. When the PS2 was released along side the next generation of Madden football, playing your friends became even more of an event. The game was special, the graphics were special, and the party which formed to play felt special.
The N64 and subsequent Wii took this concept up a notch. Mario Party was amazing. I speak in past tense because the game from 1998 or 2000 is more fun than any version in the last five years hands down. The game stinks now. With the Wii, group gaming was introduced to new territory, yet what happened to this momentum? I'll tell you what happened, the casual gamers got bored because nothing new was introduced to utilize the technology, and by the time the Xbox Kinect or Sony Move came out, no one cared. The fun was exhausted to the point of boredom with the Rock Band series of games, and without anything new to do we are now sitting in a void of nothingness when it comes to playing video games with others.
Now don't confuse my disappointment for a lack of interest in gaming. I do love the RPG, and stand by Oblivion as the greatest game I've ever played to date. However, I hold few memories of the game itself, besides the fact that it was amazing and consumed many hours of my life for the better. My video game memories exist with others playing with me, the group dynamic. And this doesn't even have to be a group game; what happened to the games that were fun to not only play, but to watch someone else play? The original Resident Evil, and Resident Evil 2, were so riveting that I didn't have to play them. Watching my friend play was just as fun! Final Fantasy 7 was the same way. The game was fun, up beat, and quirky, a blast to watch.
Today's video games have gone the way of summer movies, bland recreations of past success. Now there is hope on the horizon. LA Noire looks amazing, and should take video gaming to a new and exciting place with a story driven game. Others may want to watch the game unfold like a great film. But video games need to take a page from television and learn to reinvent themselves. Movies are flashy and fun, finding a great balance between new ideas and money making old ones. TV has to stay cutting edge to stop you from changing the channel or canceling your DVR recording. Games need to do the same thing or we will all start going hiking.