Corey Stokes, Draft the Man

Someone please explain to me how Corey Stokes did not get drafted.  I mean some of the players that got drafted like really?!?! This is the NBA.  Come on!  Here are some players that got drafted that Corey Stokes should have been drafted over:

LA Lakers 26th in the 2nd round: Chukwudiebere Maduabum

This guy got drafted?! Really?! He averaged .7 points per game and .3 rebounds per game in the D League.  How can the Lakers expect him to contribute in the NBA if he can’t even contribute in the D League.  I mean his name doesn’t even come up as suggested when you start to type it in google.

San Antonio Spurs 29th in the 2nd round: Adam Hanga

He’s basically an international version of Stokes.  He’s a tall shooting guard and is lethal from 3 point range.  Sound familiar?  Why would you draft someone who has played overseas in Europe when you can have basically the same player that has played against American talent.  European talent typically does not transfer well into the NBA.

Orlando Magic 23rd in the 2nd round: Deandre Liggins

What exactly have the scouts seen in Liggins.  He’s never been the best player on his team at Kentucky (he’s never even been the 2nd best player on his team).  He has never averaged double digits in points per game in college and 2.8 assists per game is his career high.  Why would you not draft a player that has increased his points per game average per year every year in college to a career high of 14.9 points per game and plays great defense?

It just doesn’t make sense to me how some of these players were drafted whereas Corey Stokes remains undrafted?! He put up better numbers than all of these players and possesses the athleticism to play at the next level. lEtS wOrK

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Top Ten MLB Players Whose Fantasy Value Exceeds Real Value

Fantasy baseball is great for a number of reasons.  It gives you an easy reason to talk smack to your friends.  It gives you something to look forward to every morning while you’re checking your e-mail and facebook.  A 10-0 fantasy victory can be the difference between a good week and a great one, while a bad week has been known to force many to drink bank until their sorrows are sufficiently drowned.

Players on our teams can endear themselves to us forever by putting up numbers when we really need them.  Fransisco Liriano is a perfect example for me.  He helped me win my fantasy league way back in 2006 by putting up a 12-3 record with a 2.12 ERA with 144K’s in just 120 innings (Wow! He used to be good?).  Tommy John surgery in the offseason took away his entire 2007 season and he emerged a completely different player in 2008.  Decreased velocity and movement on his fastball caused his ERA to swell to a sub-par 4.50 and his K’s to drop significantly.  He has provided very little fantasy value since his awesome 2006 season (besides throwing what was arguably the worst no-hitter in MLB history), yet I keep drafting him out of loyalty and the hope that he can regain his form.

Yet I digress.  This blog ranks the top ten players who simply do more for the fantasy stat sheet than they do for their team.  Quick note: a typical fantasy league keeps track of 5 hitting categories (runs, HR, RBIs, steals, and average), as well as 5 pitching categories (wins, saves, k’s ERA, WHIP).  Without further ado, I present you the list!

10. Jose Bautista:  This guy has put up some ungodly numbers during the past two fantasy seasons.  In 2010 he hit 54 home runs and had 124 RBI’s (while hitting a modest .260).  Whoever owned this guy last year must have felt like they hit the lottery.  It came out of nowhere.  His previous career high in home runs was 16, and it happened in 2006!  In fact, more than a third of all of his hits were home runs.  How could this happen?  I have two theories. Theory 1: Roids.  Theory 2:  He just said fuck it, this team isn’t going anywhere playing in the same division as the Sox Yanks and Rays, I’m just going to swing for the fences every at bat and see what I can do for my fantasy owners.  Personally I think it’s a combination of both.  Regardless, the Jays finished fourth in the AL, and Bautista’s fantastic season is remembered only by fantasy owners and Sporcle fantatics.

9. Jonathan Papelbon:  As a Red Sox fan this one pains me to admit, but it’s very true nonetheless.  Once upon a time he saved 37 of 40 possible games, threw down a 1.85 ERA, and earned the Sox closer spot for the forseeable future.  Since then his ERA has risen significantly and every save seems to turn into a nail-biter for Sox fans.  He still has the fantasy worth because of his numbers in the elusive save category, which is why he made the list.  However, no Sox fan who watches the games feels secure with a one run lead in the ninth and Pap in the game.  For the love of God make Bard the closer.

8. Juan Pierre:  All this guy does is attempt steals.  I say attempt because his actual SB percentage is a lot lower than most of us would like to think (just 74% for his career).  His average is decent but his pathetic slugging percentage (.363 for his career) suggests that all he does is hit singles.  And then try to steal second.  And then third.  And he gets out a quarter of the time he attempts this.  Luckily for fantasy owners, none of this matters.  Pierre looks like he will continue to put up 60 SB’s for the rest of his career because that’s just what he does.  So draft him if you need steals and nothing else.

7. Mark Reynolds:  Reynolds put up a whopping 44 HR’s in 2009.  Not bad right?  Now for a stat not typically included in a fantasy matchup: 223 strikeouts.  Are you kidding me?  I could play a full season in the MLB and strike out less than this guy.  I’m almost positive that when he goes up to bat he just closes his eyes and swings as hard as he can three times in a row.  If he makes good contact, home run!  If not, fuck it, same approach next time.  It if gets you 44 home runs then good for you.  Fantasy owners will certainly take it.  Teammates and coaches might have a different reaction, but hey he’s in Baltimore now.

6. Daric Barton:  Now before you go looking up his stats and saying “who the f is this scrub? He has absolutely no game.  Nobody in their right mind would ever draft him in a fantasy league,” understand that I picked this guy for one reason only.  Errors.  This man has committed 8 errors in just 62 games. 8! In 62 games!  That’s two more than anyone else in the league.  You would at least think this guy would be moderately good at defense given that he provides literally nothing on the offensive end (.212 average, 0 home runs), and he STARTS.  Upon consulting further stats I realized he plays for the A’s, and this makes slightly more sense.  But come on man.  I maintain that his fantasy value exceeds his real value because he actually loses games for his team.  Seriously, with his numbers I would say that his abysmal defense creates more runs for the other team than his shitty average and (lack of) power on offense.  This guy is a scrub, and is singlehandedly putting the A’s in the basement of the AL West. (I exaggerate).

5. Adam Dunn:  See Mark Reynolds, but with more consistent power numbers and fewer strikeouts.  Fantasy owners love this guy because you can always count on 40 home runs.  True, he strikes out about 200 times a year, but once again, fantasy owners could care less.  Draft him if you’re ready to sacrifice average for home runs and RBIs.

4.  Alex Rodriguez:  A consistent fantasy stud, A-Rod hasn’t put up fewer than 30 home runs since his breakthrough season in 1996.  The knock on his real value here: except for a few streaks he has never been a clutch player.  True, people’s expectations are through the roof from him.  He’s looking like a serious competitor for the all time home run record.  But if you watch the games you’ll notice that a lot of his stats come in garbage time in games that have already been won or lost.  Let’s put it this way: I would be much more worried about A-Rod going deep in a game where the Yanks are losing 7-0 to the Red Sox with the bases empty (in fact this happened just the other night), than A-Rod driving home the runner on third in a 1 run game in the 9th.  His stats are incredible, but they easily overstate his actual value to the teams he plays for.  That’s why he’s on this list.

3. Carlos Zambrano:  This guy is a character.  I absolutely love watching him flip out on sportscenter during every game he pitches.  He has been the ace of the Cubs staff for a few years now, putting up as many as 18 wins in a season.  But it’s the intangible and character issues that knock his real value.  My favorite recent Zambrano story:  He leaves the game after pitching 7 innings of one run ball and a 2-1 lead.  Closer Carlos Marmol proceeds to blow the lead and the Cubs lose 3-2.  Now, any MLB pitcher would be frustrated, especially with the way the Cubs season is going.  But Zambrano went off!  Unfortunately footage is not available, but if you saw the sportscenter or know what he’s like in general, you can imagine.  He called his team a “triple-A team” and “embarrassing”, and even went as far at to critique Marmol’s pitch selection.  But at least he cares about his stats.  He wanted that win!  What kind of fantasy owner wouldn’t love a guy like that?  So what if he antagonizes his teammates.  Luckily, most fantasy baseball leagues don’t use an ejections stat.  Quick footnote: I did play in a fantasy basketball league that kept ejections as a stat. Why? We may never know.

2. J.D. Drew:  Sorry J.D.  You are useless.  Anybody that has been watching the Sox for the past five years knows what I’m talking about.  Think A-Rod minus the consistent regular season numbers.  J.D. Drew can’t hit a game winner to save his life.  Maybe it’s because his emotionless face would break if he ever got excited about anything.  He manages to hit 20 home runs and post a .280 average pretty consistently, so he’s not a completely useless fantasy asset (exculding his horrendous 2011 season thus far, on a record setting Sox offense mind you).  But he’ll put up these numbers in the least useful time, leading management to think at the end of the year, Hey, JD put up another solid season, let’s continue to give him $14 million a year.

and number one is….

 

 

1. Troy Tulowitzki:  I didn’t give Tulo the number one ranking in an effort to minimize his value to the Rockies.  He is the best player on the Rockies, a team that always seems to string together a bunch of wins at the end of the year to make the playoffs or at least come close.  And Tulo is usually the reason for the late push put on by this team.  He steps up his game to another level when it counts most. But that’s why he’s on the list.  Anybody who played in a fantasy league last year knows exactly what I’m saying.  If you had Tulo on your team at the end of the year and you didn’t win, I don’t know what the hell you were doing.  He could literally be playing on a team of hood rats and singlehandedly win you the fantasy playoffs.  In september, the month of fantasy playoffs, Tulo hit .332 with 15 home runs, 31 runs scored, and 41 RBIs.  So as good as he is in real life, his fantasy value is god-like.  He wins leagues.  That is all.

Baseball Realignment… If We’re Lucky

Lurking in the background of the sports news landscape like Jax at a Sig Chi party stalking the next unsuspecting freshman girl is the discussion of baseball realignment. If you haven’t been paying attention its not entirely your fault, the NBA and NHL finals have been in the forefront, relegating the MLB to the secondary news of the day. That being said, such a monumental change to a sport hasn’t been suggested in our lifetimes, and with some owners claiming it to be a 50-50 ordeal, we ought to spend a little time thinking about what we as fans should really want.

So realignment essentially amounts to is a restructuring of the league to level out the competition. Of course this makes sense on paper – Having the Yanks, Sox, and Rays in the same division could very well amount to having the top three teams in a league together in the same division, with one team missing out on the playoffs as a result of the idiotic structure. Imagine the Colts, Pats, and Steelers in a division together – Then imagine that there was no salary cap and that these teams could maintain their dominance. Of course this isn’t the situation in the NFL, their league makes sense: It has a salary cap. Baseball on the other hand is the China of pro sports, everyone’s poor except for those 4 rich guys who run everything. Forget salary cap its not happening.

So say we have a realignment, what can we expect? Well the god-awful AL West and NL West finally get broken up. Seriously, how many years in a row do we have to have the embarrassing “I wonder if a team will finish above .500 in the NL West” discussion. The AL and NL East get broken up to diffuse the dominance. As fans this sounds pretty smart, but its the way that the divisions are broken up which matters most. So what can we expect?

Two possibilities actually:

1.) Divisions go away, AL and NL remain. One team moves from the NL to the AL and two 15 team leagues emerge. Pretty easy – Get some team to move that doesn’t belong geographically to its division or just generally flies under the radar (Marlins, Astros fit both criteria).

Problems: Rivalries go away for the most part, Yanks/Sox, Dodgers/Giants, Cards/Cubs become less meaningful. Remember there’s actually some pride in winning the pennant in your division. The Sox and their fans hate when the Yanks win, and vice-versa. Also all this really resolves is the Yanks/Sox/Rays power division situation and takes away a lot of the fun of divisional ball. As fans let’s go ahead and veto.

2.) Reorganize the divisions. Trickier yes, but done in the right way and we could be onto something exciting. Certain things must prevail for this to work. The aforementioned rivalries had better stay put – As a game of tradition you can bet that forcing new rivalries is going to be an unsuccessful venture. Also geographic proximity is still important, so that should be kept in mind. How then do we split the teams up for this to work? Let’s give it a shot:

2 Leagues, 3 Divisions, 5 teams:

AL East – Yanks, Sox, Orioles, Reds, Pirates

AL Central – Cubs, Cards, Tigers, Twins, White Sox,

AL West – Angels, Rockies, Padres, Mariners, D’Backs

NL East – Mets, Phils, Indians, Nationals, Jays

NL Central – Rays, Marlins, Braves, Brewers, Astros

NL West – Dodgers, Giants, Rangers, A’s, Royals

Quick Thoughts: Yanks/Sox in AL East will always be dominant, lets sacrifice some teams to the baseball gods to keep status quo in that division. AL Central stays fun with Cubs/Cards – Inter-city Cubs/White Sox becomes a more heated rivalry. AL West has a much needed face-lift. NL East Keeps Mets/Phils – Upstart Indians and promising Nationals lurk behind the big spenders. NL Central get an interstate rivalry in Rays/Marlins, Braves can be counted on to compete. West gets real interesting with the 3-team Dodgers/Giants/Rangers fight to the top.

Of course this is never going to happen, but it would be fucking awesome if it did. Baseball needs a makeover anyway, so let’s think outside the box for once. I’m looking at you MLB. Make it happen.

Feed me feedback.

The Most Hypocritical Man in Sports?

So this has been something that’s been bothering me for a really long time, and now I actually have an outlet to vent. I don’t think there is someone more insufferable in sports then Tony Dungy. I cannot stand how he sits on his “I’m very religious” high horse and dictates what other people should and should not do through the national media. I despise Rex Ryan, but it was completely uncalled for for Saint Dungy to say he has a problem with his cursing. The guy is a grown man, he can curse as much as he wants. And I really don’t understand why curse words have a negative connotation. Yet I digress. The thing that really grinds my gears about him is how hypocritical people allow him to be simply because he is a church going man. He spoke out against gay marriage(which I think is the dumbest argument ever) which he thinks is wrong because it’s not the lord’s way. But then he’s also bff’s with Michael Vick who used to torture dogs for fun, pit them against each other in fights to the death, and execute them by hanging them. Somehow in his eyes that’s more forgivable than being gay. He’s just so ignorant that I can’t take him seriously. And neither should you.

P.S. Leviticus also condones owning slaves so uhh….yeah. Stupid.

 

 

 

Some of the Most Underrated Players in the League

We all know about the Tom Brady’s and the Adrian Peterson’s of the NFL.  However, there are a ton of lesser known players that have a huge impact on their teams performance.  These players may not have been drafted in the first couple of rounds, but they shouldn’t be going unnoticed in the league.

Kam Chancellor

Kam Chancellor is not the prototypical defensive back that we are used to seeing in the NFL based on his size alone.  He is 6’3″ and and was clocked running a 4.52 40 yard dash.  His play in the final 2 years at Virginia Tech lead him to be drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 draft by the Seattle Seahawks. According to his defensive backs coach at VT, Chancellor could be “the greatest safety in Virginia Tech history.”  In his rookie season, he saw limited action in all 16 games.  He finished the season with respectable numbers for a rookie role player in the secondary: 23 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass deflect and a forced fumble.  If he is able to use the combination of his tall frame and his quickness, then he should be to contribute to the Seahawks secondary for years to come.  All signs are pointing to Kam becoming the starting safety for the Seahawks this upcoming season.

Matt Shaughnessy (pronounced Shoug-a-lu-sky)

Matt Shaughnessy is a defensive end for the Oakland Raiders.  He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft.  He has seen some success in his 2 years as a Raider.  He has started 10 games over the past 2 years and has recorded 11 career sacks to go along with 85 tackles.  Shaughnessy possesses the quickness to be an effective pass rusher off the edge.  He needs to work on getting better leverage to be more effective in the running game.  I’m feeling a big season out of him this year as well as the Raiders as a unit.  I don’t know why his named is spelled like it is but it has been confirmed that it pronounced as if it were spelled Shougalusky.

Johnnie Lee Higgins

Johnnie Lee Higgins has been in the NFL since being drafting in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft.  Besides 2008, when he led all Raiders receivers in yards, he hasn’t really panned out as a wide receiver, but he has contributed on special teams, both as a returner and on the coverage team.  It would be nice to see Johnnie Lee get back to his 2008 form (before he got lit up going across the middle) so we can see some touchdown celebration out of him.  It’s hard to celebrate when you haven’t scored a touchdown in 2 years.  Anyway, Johnnie Lee was one of the most exciting players in the league before Eric Weddle fucked him up and it would be great for the Raiders/NFL if he regained his 2008 form.  I mean just look and his picture and tell me that you can honestly root against him.

Answer Me!

Here’s something I never understood: the term “unanswered.” You know, like “The Caps now have two unanswered goals.” I mean, I get the whole concept of answering back with goals or runs or whatever, but I feel like commentators use it wrong like 90% of the time. Maybe I’m just an idiot (no one answer that), but allow me to pose a scenario…

Okay say its Pens vs Caps. Winter classic rematch. Pittsburgh takes an early lead, scoring their first goal 5 minutes into the first period. 1-0 PIT. Some time passes and Ovechkin gets one by Fleury and makes it look easy. First period ends tied.

Second period: Washington scores again, this time on a power play, making it 2-1 Caps. At this point the announcer proclaims “The Capitols now have two unanswered goals.” Do they, though? How can the score be 2-1 and there be 2 unanswered goals? Wasn’t Washington’s first goal an answer to Pittsburgh’s first goal? How can the same goal provide an answer and pose a question at the same time? By the commentator’s logic, if the Penguins score again, the Caps still have 1 unanswered goal, even though the score is tied…

I am hesitant to make any accusations because – as I have discovered in the field of engineering – if you think you’re the first one to come up with it, it’s probably wrong. But this has been on my mind forever, so now I move to strike, Charlie Kelly style. I challenge someone to prove me wrong in saying that the Capitols only have 1 unanswered goal.

The Disappearing Act of “The King”

LeBron James leaves the court after Miami’s disappointing Game 6 loss to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

Before I describe my own opinions of LeBron James let me start by saying this: his “decision” last offseason was correct. He could not have continued to play in Cleveland and expected to win a championship while surrounded by former D-leaguers and One-Time All-Stars. His GM could never help him out enough, and unfortunately for the Cavaliers, no superstar wants to live and play in a state where the marketing opportunities are lackluster at best and the winter weather is subject to the lake effect.

LeBron jumped at the opportunity, as most of us would, to create a Big 3 in Miami that not only gave him the best chance to win a ring, but also provided him with the warmest weather and the opportunity to collect his paychecks tax-free. It was his cocky attitude and off-the court antics that irked sports fans everywhere and positioned him as the NBA’s most hated villain.

“The Decision” was a complete and utter disaster that will go down in sports history as one of the most infamous PR moves ever. When in Cleveland, LeBron was a fan favorite of anyone who watched the NBA, and generated the positive interest of casual fans (myself included) to a game that desperately needed it. I have been racking my brain trying to think of an analogy to how awful it must feel to be a Cleveland fan during this time, but I do not think any comparison explains it well enough. The closest I could come up with for Villanova fans would be if Scottie Reynolds held a press conference after his junior year where we all thought he was going to announce that he would return for his senior season and skip the NBA draft, only instead he announced that he would transfer to Syracuse. Even if he led them to the title game alongside Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins I think we would get over it before Cleveland will ever get over LeBron.

I went into this year’s NBA Finals rooting hard for the Mavericks to beat the Heat for a lot of reasons. I was hoping Karma would prevail for Cleveland’s sake; I wanted validation that my thoughts about LeBron never being as good as MJ were correct; I wanted to see that hard works trumps sports collusion (see: Dan Gilbert’s Tweet). But most of all, I wanted to see LeBron James fail and fail miserably for stabbing the city that embraced him, immortalized him, and treated him like a god in the heart in front of a nationally televised audience.

Now that all of my hopes and wants about the NBA Finals have come true, however, I am left with an unsettling mix of joy for the karma “The King” is receiving and major disappointment for the realization that maybe LeBron is not what he appeared destined to be. He looked like a sure thing top 5 or 10 player in NBA history, and he very well still could become that type of player, but after 8 years in the league James appears to lack the killer instinct of the Kobe Bryant’s and the Michael Jordan’s and the Dwyane Wade’s that turns great players into legends.

There are two ways pressure affects athletes in sports. The first way is physical: your shots are horribly off the mark, you dribble off your own feet, you throw the ball out of bounds, you miss free throws, your palms sweat, your breathing quickens, and your heart beats so fast that you feel as if it could explode out of your chest at any moment. The second way is mental: you lack confidence in your own skills, you lose the mental edges that you may have had previously, fear takes over, you are afraid to shoot, afraid to possess the ball, and terrified to make mistakes; you appear to play timid and disinterested and would rather someone else take chances rather than yourself.

I think it goes without saying that LeBron James suffered from the latter in this year’s finals. We all watched him hide out in the fourth quarter of every close game as guys like Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller took more fourth quarter shots than he did. I am not a huge fan of all of the newfangled stats that that exist today, but I think one of them really summed up this series. In “Crunch Time” (score within five points in the last five minutes of the game) LeBron was 0 for 7 with 0 points. Digest that for a second. In close situations when his team needed him the most the most talented player on the floor had 0 points. In the five games where this stat applied he took only 1.4 shots per game!

At 6 foot 8 inches and 250 pounds, and with the quickness and ball skills that James has, there is not a single defender in the league who should be able to consistently shut him down. Nobody in the NBA has his combination of height, strength, and speed; he should post up and shoot over guards and blow past bigger defenders off the dribble. Yet for six straight games in the NBA Finals we watched LeBron choose not to, even as guys like 38 year-old Jason Kidd defended him.

I cannot help but feel robbed. “The King” was supposed to be a once in a generation type of player. He was supposed to take over for Kobe and supplant MJ as the greatest player ever. He was supposed to win multiple championships with his clutch scoring and near perfect decision-making ability. We all watched in awe as he scored 25 points in a row and 29 of 30 against the Pistons in ’07. That was supposed to be his coming out party. It was supposed to be the moment that we knew LeBron really was “The King” of the NBA.

But ‘supposed to’ only gets you so far in life; eventually you have to execute. Last year when LeBron tanked it against the Celtics in Game 5 I thought it was because he was more worried about the 2010-2011 season than he was about 2009-2010. Now I realize that maybe he just cannot handle the pressure of true championship expectations. I am sure that he realized that last year was his final chance to bring a title to Cleveland even before the season ended, and that pressure must have been enormous.

Fast forward to this year’s Heat team. As if the pressure of bringing together three superstars (or two and a half, depending on how much respect you have for Chris Bosh) was not enough, LeBron added fuel to the fire by uttering this classic speech. The only problem is, before the games “are easy” and you win multiple championships you have to win one. And before you can win one championship you have to be able to handle the pressure of competing in a highly competitive NBA Finals against a team that is just as hungry as yours is.

Unfortunately for LeBron this situation is going to get worse before it will get better. He is going to get shredded by the media all offseason, which, thanks to a probable lockout, will likely be extended. All of the fans and analysts will question his mental toughness and his ability to handle pressure as he sits back and tells us he ‘just had a bad series,’ or ‘everyone’s human, I make mistakes too’ or ‘credit to the Mavs, they shut me down,’ as the doubt inside of him begins to grow. Then next season will start and he will have a typical LeBron year of 27/7/7, which will quiet the murmurs until the playoffs start and the criticism starts back up again, this time even louder than ever.

I still do not know if I will ever root for LeBron to win in Miami, but after watching this year’s finals I have realized that I want him to, at the least, go down swinging. After all of the hype we deserve to see LeBron play up to his potential when it matters most. We have all “witnessed” the cockiness, and the increased expectations, and the ‘supposed to’s.’ It’s about time we witnessed the most gifted player in the league play like the legend he can be, and not the crunch time disappointment he has been.

Only time will tell if LeBron will go down as one of the top 10 players in NBA history; he is, after all, only 26 years old and has plenty of basketball life left. But after all of his experience, including this year’s enormously disappointing finals appearance in Miami, the pressure will continue to grow every single season until the elusive Larry O’Brien trophy is within his grasp. And after watching LeBron perform under stress in this series, none of us can guess when, or if, that day will ever come.