Monday, August 8, 2011

The top 8 lists I would like to see - In honor of the eighth and best month

Here is a list of eight lists I would like to see, in honor of the eighth and best month of the year.

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)

Yay August!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Drafting kickers

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

Spoiling Movies: Harry Potter

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)