Sunday, February 27, 2011

Miscellaneous Me

Oscars Edition

Best Quote:

"Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating and religion."
- Scott Adams

Best Depiction of a Nerd:

Watching offensive linemen run the 40 yard dash at the NFL scouting combine on NFL Network.


Watching spring training baseball games on MLB Network made up of a large group of players who will never be given a Major League at-bat in the regular season.

Best Original Score:

B.O.B.'s song "Magic" is utterly hypnotic.

Best Fraud:

Texas Rangers' starting pitcher C.J. Wilson threw 204 innings last year...130 1/3 MORE innings than he had ever pitched in a season in his career.
Maybe be wary; that's all I'm saying.
Maybe don't spend that early fantasy selection assuming he'll be a top 25 starter again.

Best Advice:

If frostbite occurs, do not rub the skin; avoid direct heat; never thaw the area if it is at risk of refreezing as that can cause severe tissue damage.

Best Liar:

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, not necessarily for knowing about Bernie Madoff's schemes but for pretending like the Mets would not have money issues this season.

Best Leading Man:

Who would win in a fight between Ender Wiggin and Paul Maud'dib?
What if Paul wasn't allowed to talk?
What if Ender thought it was just a game?

Best Nostalgic Moment:

Facebook created a new Oregon Trail game as well as a new version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Best Use of the English Language:

Wooly buggers and bitch creek nymphs are both proper fishing terms.


To "rendezvous at the rendezvous" is grammatically correct.

Best Director:

If San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich does not win Coach of the Year, it will just be because people expect him to be one of the best coaches and when he is, they take it for granted.

Best Actor:

Jimmer Fredette is running away with National Player of the Year. I can't wait until he's taking six shots and playing 18 minutes a game in the NBA next year.

Best Picture:

Hopefully Turner Broadcasting didn't end up taking the bite out of the NCAA Tournament by spreading game times out. Most of the thrill and appeal of March Madness was having bunches of games coming down to the wire and watching all the exciting endings. Stringing out these rounds will allow for viewers to watch many more complete games but it remains to be seen whether that is actually a good thing.

Friday, February 18, 2011

RE: What happened to loyalty...

Of course LeBron's Decision left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. His choice to leave Cleveland was defensible yet his way of doing so was not. We've heard it all by now. He should have given the Cavaliers notice ahead of time. He should not have done such a ridiculous show, etc, etc.

As the NBA season scrolls on though, LeBron James' way of handling his free agency is looking classier and classier. Carmelo Anthony, completely by accident, is making LeBron James more popular each and every day.

The question of how could LeBron have handled his Decision any worse comes up often. We finally have the answer. He could have handled it like Carmelo is right now.

We knew LeBron was going to test the free agent waters after his final year in Cleveland was up. He was considering returning to the Cavs but it wouldn't be before testing the market. So he played out that final year, carried Cleveland to the best record in the league, yet again, and into the playoffs.

Now just imagine instead that LeBron James had handcuffed the Cavs franchise and held them hostage, demanding a trade but always rescinding, never admitting he wanted to leave. In fact, he would occasionally come out and say he wanted to sign an extension with Cleveland. But then he would seem disinterested, fuel trade talks with other clubs, say he only wants to play in Miami, and the club would be a train wreck for it.

Welcome to Denver, this is their hell.

Carmelo Anthony could come out and say what he actually thinks instead of talking out of both sides of his mouth. He could end the trade talks forever by saying he wants to stay. There is plenty he could do to help the Nuggets make the playoffs this season other than just scoring points while he's on the court.

Instead, Carmelo has almost encouraged the drama. He refuses to sign an extension, implying he wants to become a free agent. He has also said he wants to play in New York, implying a trade elsewhere would not work for him. Yet he has then come out saying he has never asked to be traded and would like to stay in Denver. Whether Anthony ends up on the Knicks this year or next year, the message is clear. LeBron James actually handled his free agency better than we thought.

On a side note, he has also handled being everyone's villain rather well. James should be the front-runner for NBA MVP right now, heading into the All-Star break, assuming anyone would vote for him. Being Dwyane Wade's sidekick wasn't in the cards I suppose. LeBron, instead, is his old MVP self, just wearing different colors.

If the NBA is not the place to look for examples of sports loyalty, perhaps we should search Major League Baseball. MLB's own LeBron figure, Albert Pujols, is going through his own final year of a contract. Pujols is unquestionably the best player in baseball, is not being paid like it, and has a problem with that.

A few things were made abundantly clear by Albert's self-made contract deadline imposed on St. Louis this week. He wouldn't mind returning to the Cardinals, but they won't get any home town discount. If he had literal sports loyalty, he would have wanted to return, signed a below-market contract to help the Cards sign future players, and it would have been done with. That isn't feasible though; that's not how loyalty works in the sports business world.

Instead, he did the next best thing. If the Cardinals blew him away with an offer, he would have signed before Spring Training. Otherwise, he would head into free agency looking for the contract he thinks he deserves, and if it is given to him by St. Louis, fantastic. If not, oh well.

("What he deserves" is a debate for another column. Should he really get $30 million a year? Can he seriously get a 10-year offer from someone? It seems unlikely, especially with players not excelling into their late 30's and early 40's anymore. And the last, important factor for determining his market is that the Yankees and Red Sox both already have big-time first basemen in their employ.)

But Pujols set his contract deadline, it passed, and now the Cardinals can just play baseball knowing Albert will be a free agent this coming off-season.

There was no holding the franchise hostage with his deliberations. There was no year-long distraction. There was no being kept in the dark of what he will do. And there certainly is no way the Cardinals are going to trade him away. They will have their big slugger for 2011 with contract talks a thing for after the season and that's all they could have asked for.

(Image courtesy of

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Spend it all in one place

The NBA season is nearing its second half watermark, the all-star game. Thus, the fantasy basketball season is winding down as well, with each team having 30 or so games remaining on their schedule.

Now, I don't like to brag, but I tried a new fantasy draft technique this season and it is working wonders...hold on, let me start over.

I do enjoy bragging, especially when it is warranted, and this is one of those cases. I tried a new fantasy draft technique this season and it is working wonders.

Now the auction draft technique commonly termed 'stars and scrubs' is not new to the world. I had simply never tried it before. In prior seasons, I had beat around the so-called bush, gone halfway with it, but never rested my whole roster, my whole season, on this risky draft endeavor.

In the past, it was much easier to draft a balanced team, spending big money on just one player, if that, and having a full, talented roster, at least seven or eight deep with star players. This is the safe way to go. If someone goes down, or even if they don't, your roster can overcome a poor season by any one player, and also gives you freedom to make literally any trade.

In 2010-2011, I wanted to live on the edge. Stars and scrubs drafting is pretty self-explanatory. You spend nearly all your money on a couple players, and fill in the rest of your roster with whatever is left. Your team will end up very, very top heavy, but with a few of the very best players the league has to offer.

Having all your stars healthy for the entire year is necessary. Hitting on two or three of the scrubs, benefiting from an unlikely big year, is desired. Paying attention to all free agency moves, waiver wire claims, available trade pieces, etc. is paramount. There is no wiggle room when drafting like this, as your roster has the thinnest of margins for error.

I spent 90% of my budget on three players. Two of them were the top two rated players in the league, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. The third was projected as one of the best big men in the league, Brook Lopez. Paul and Durant currently reside first and second overall on the Player Rater. The reason being, they produce in so many categories. Lopez, on the other hand, has had a disappointing season.

Two for three usually a'int bad, but in this instance, missing on one of my top picks could have been catastrophic. Except, Lopez' season is a worse "real-life" season than it is a fantasy season. He is not rebounding, but he is still recording points and blocks, and has good percentages (especially from the line) for a big man.

Yet right out of the gate, I had to recover a major deficit in rebounds. Back to the draft, I spent my remaining coin on players with category upside. There is no point in wasting money on someone who will produce average stats in a couple categories. That same type of player can be added later from the waiver wire. Instead, I drafted $1 players such as JaVale McGee, Andris Biedrins, and Anderson Varejao (for major blocks and rebounds), Trevor Ariza (steals) and Anthony Morrow (3's), as well as point guards like Mike Conley, Beno Udrih and George Hill who, if playing time shook out correctly, could wrack up assists and not kill me anywhere.

Of course, my work was not even close to done after the draft was over. I had too much uncertainty. Thus, I scoured the waiver wire every day. Someone panicked and dropped Danilo Gallinari before the calendar even changed to November. I pounced and added him even with his very slow start out of the gate. I did the same with Mo Williams just a few days later.

As the year was rolling along, I was competing in every category rather well, except for field goal percentage, points and 3s, so I worked on a deal for a scorer with solid percentages, Kevin Martin. Since the mid-December trade, Martin has been one of the top shooting guards in the league.

Future adds such as J.J. Hickson and Channing Frye have helped me currently rest in a tie for first place. The only category I am weak in is field goal percentage. I still have not been able to make up ground from the awful shooting start of Brook Lopez, and to a lesser extent, even Kevin Durant, who both take at least 15 field goal attempts a game (Durant is up over 20). I was hoping/banking they would shoot 50% from the floor, to overcome the Arizas, Gallinaris, and Conleys who have been known to go 2 for 11 every now and then. Instead, neither Durant nor Lopez have gotten their season FG% to 48% yet.

So there is still work to do, but my first venture into the risky world of 'stars and scrubs' drafting has paid off thus far. And it has been fun.

If this entire post sounded too self-serving, I apologize...kind of. I wanted to explore another way of drafting, and using my real example was the easiest way to do so. To make up for it, I'll sum this up with some lessons.

In fantasy sports, your job is not done after the draft is over. In fact, most of your work is just beginning. It takes time to work out trades for your needs, deliberate on when to cut bait with players, when to pick up others, and to pounce on mistakes made by other owners in your league.

Also, if you have a draft technique that you always use, try something new, perhaps with this coming baseball season. Stars and scrubs works best with basketball, without a doubt, but don't be afraid to take some risks and work to make sure those risks end up in your favor.

Drafting differently and experimenting with style can be a fun way to mix up your fantasy season if playing in a public league or non-money league. Who knows, you may end up with a new technique that works even better than what you had been doing. I think I have.

Now if only I can get Brook Lopez to grab more rebounds...

(Image courtesy of

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Happened to Loyalty...

As I did my nightly view of Sports Center early in the morning on Tuesday February 8th,
I came to a dark
realization. Loyalty has left many of the major sports we watch today. What
sparked this was SC's Highlight of the
Night. It was the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Dallas
Mavericks. The pictures bothered me so much. Despair
in the eyes of every Cavalier player.
The problem for
myself is not with the players, but with everyone else in Ohio and the Greater
Cleveland area. If these players can
find no hope, no joy, and no passion what does everyone
else feel?
The Dallas Mavericks won 99-96 having Cleveland lose a record 25 consecutive games.
This puts an exclamation
mark on what this city has lost. Not only an icon, but a figure to lead
them, bringing stability to a place that has struggled. LeBron
James made the city of Cleveland
and I realize this may be a
little late, but he also destroyed it. How do you replace what he
brought to the area. After doing some research I
found what he had brought and what he took
with him. The was LeBron's impact on the
city of Cleveland. An article in the acclaimed Atlantic
researched what economic impact he had on the city.
  1. Loss of Business revenue during games (i.e. Bars, Restaurants)
  2. According to Chris Good of the Atlantic about $3.7 Million per game
  3. $150 Million per season (that is just games alone)
  4. There were $2 Billion worth of business investments in Cleveland with LeBron
The point is he himself had the power to collapse a city. How can you replace the most
iconic figure in basketball?
Fleeing to Miami was probably the smartest choice in terms of a
successful pursuit of multiple NBA Championships,
but what about leading an entire state to
rally around you. LeBron gave that all up. I can not sit here and say his
decisions were
wrong, but they were immoral and selfish. Cleveland would have won a championship
eventually, they
had the "King" and money to obtain more talent around him.
It is apparent he did not want to be a leader anymore. He went to Miami to hide behind
Wade as now the second
in command. It is hard to understand his motives, but that is what
it is pointing to. LeBron James was more powerful than
any other figure in all of Ohio. He
brought stability to a diminished Cleveland and with his departure brought devastation.
himself made the Cleveland Cavaliers into the laughing stock of the NBA. If these thoughts
does not reach to him on a
personal level, then the man is evil. James in other words, ran
away from home...
Loyalties aside. Let's hope for his sake Cleveland rebounds.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In Case I Don't See Ya... Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Goodnight

As Todd broadens his horizons, and expands on future endeavors, I am glad to say I am a new addition to the Sports Pinata. Having known Todd for a number of years this opportunity is exciting. With these topics there is no liking or disliking teams, players owners, coaches, etc... its about pure substance. I hope to spark debate. My name is Brandon Lorenzoni and have been a sports enthusiast (different than a fanatic) for about eight years now. My topics will be based upon integrity of sport because I believe that this aspect of sports is slowly dissipating. This will be an interesting project for Todd and I. We will be playing off each other based on our writing. There will be times of different topics and times of joint ideas with debatable issues. My ideas will be limited to just the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NCAAB. I would tell you I will cover all sports, but I don't want waste your time with unwarranted blabber. I will not tell you what teams I favor although that will probably be evident down the road. I hope to entertain your thoughts, but most of all challenge me, push me to get the debate started...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Something Super

Here is the link to my Super Bowl article at Suite 101. It's about being a spoiled NFL fan in the 21st Century (spoiled in a good way!)

At the end of the article is my prediction, but I wanted to touch on The Sports Pinata power rankings from many months ago and how it relates to a subject in the article.

A section of the article is about how obvious parity is in the NFL today, how literally every time has a chance at the beginning of every season. It is rather remarkable.

Back in August in my original NFL Power Rankings, I rated the Green Bay Packers number two overall. They were so talented on both sides of the ball, and even fighting through so many injuries, they hung on and are (reasonably) healthy right now.

(Just imagine what Aaron Rodgers would do if he still had his number one running back and the best tight end in the NFC healthy and ready to roll on Super Bowl Sunday.)

On the other hand, I ranked the Pittsburgh Steelers near the very bottom of the league. They were coming off a poor defensive season in 2009 with Troy Polamalu missing time and Big Ben was going to miss the first quarter of the season. I expected a slow start with a backup quarterback to be too much to overcome even after Roethlisberger's return. I was clearly, very wrong.

Eight weeks later, I updated my rankings at the mid-point of the NFL season. So much had changed in just two months. The Steelers were moved up to the elite tier of teams. The Packers were in the NFC's elite tier, but had dropped from their spot pre-season because of all the injuries.

In the span of one season, the 2010 campaign, we saw both sides of the NFL spectrum. One team, the Packers, had been a favorite coming in, had dropped because of injuries and close losses, and rebounded to make the Super Bowl. The other, the Steelers, had come in with very low expectations, a possible poor year looming, had started off on fire, kept climbing throughout the season, and took the momentum all the way to the big game.

Of course there are also the Chargers and Cowboys of the world who started off on top and plummeted almost immediately, not having "it" this season. That's the NFL for you.

In the end, I guess I was partly right, predicting the Packers would be elite. But really, the bottom line is no one knows anything in regards to the NFL. The only sure prediction is parity will remain, every fan base has hope coming into the season, and being an NFL fan is definitely something Super.

(Image courtesy of