Monday, December 9, 2013

Hockey's Most Valuable Name: RYAN

Sometimes it is necessary for fantasy GMs to put their money where their mouth is. This year I decided to put my money where my name is. As defending champs, my fantasy hockey team, The Playoff Beards, would start the season with a target on their backs. In order to capture the ever-elusive repeat, I would have to try something different.

Then it hit me. The perfect plan was not hiding amongst the clutter of spreadsheets and scoring projections. It was right under my nose, or rather, on my nose. Actually, it was IN my nose. It WAS my nose. A drafting system so daring, so fearless, so egocentric, so down right maniacal in its simplicity - corner the market on the best name in hockey.

If you don’t believe that Ryan wins for Most Valuable Name [MVN], then let’s take a look at the current stats [12-6-2013]. According to Yahoo!’s overall rankings, there are two Ryans in the Top 25 skaters [Getzlaf and Kesler]. If you include Bobby Ryan and Bryan Little [and you totally should] you’re left with four inside the Top 50. And a staggering nine inside the Top 200! And that doesn’t include the shorthanded wunderkind, Ryan Garbutt, who is destined for Top 200-ness. By contrast, Chris and Alex, both talented names in their own right, each only have five inside the Top 200.

Side Bar: Is it just me, or does it look like the ref is helping out Mssr. Garbutt in that link? Even the refs like Ryans more. Well, they like Ryans more than Hampusses. Or is the plural of Hampus, Hampi? Anyway...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I Love The Nineties: Part One

Happy Hockey Day, everyone! This posting has been in the works for a long time, with 90’s bands and NHL franchises swapping positions more frequently than a sausage race at a Brewers games.  Now that hockey season is finally here, it seems like a good time to roll out the first in a series of blogs linking two of my passions: music from the 90’s [the greatest musical decade of all time] and hockey [the most physically demanding sport in the universe].

Since there are such a finite number of NHL teams [30, for those keeping score at home], and thousands [seemingly MILLIONS] of great 90’s bands, some people are bound to be disappointed with my choices/omissions. Read my justification for linking each entity [and read the fun links, too!] before getting all up in arms. Where possible I tried to connect a team’s success in the 1990’s with similar periods of success for the corresponding bands. Basically, the only hard rule that I stuck to was the musical act needed to release an album in the 90’s. After that, it turned into a fun trip down memory lane.

In an effort to better familiarize myself with the new divisions the NHL is sporting this year, I will release my picks one division at a time. First up, the Metropolitan division.  This new collection of teams boasts some serious Stanley Cup pedigree and thus earned some impressive musical comparisons. Bands like Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and the Red Hot Chili Peppers should all enjoy their new homes in the Metro.

Metropolitan Division
90's Band
Carolina Hurricanes
Brief spurts of success followed by long periods of [playoff-missing] misery. Fans have plenty of time to remember the good 'ol days as they wait an agonizingly-long time for a new album [that won’t even have a real name].
Columbus Blue Jackets
Jimmy Eat World
Naming a good Jimmy Eat World song is probably as difficult as naming a Blue Jackets player that is/was really good. Both certainly exist, but they are few and far between.
New Jersey Devils
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Bands are backstopped by bassists much like defense backstops success in the NHL. No 90’s band has a better bassist than Flee and no 90’s team had better defense [and goaltending] than the Devils.
New York Islanders
Billy Joel
Breakout success in the 1980's. Recorded his last album in 1993... Right around the time the Islanders had their last good team. Comeback tour, Billy? I think you’d sell out the Barclays Center in record time.
New York Rangers
An Original Six metal band who proved they could still hang with the big guns of the 90's. The band headlined Woodstock Too the same year the team won the Cup.
Philadelphia Flyers
Beastie Boys
Badass band, badass team. I’m pretty sure that if all the band members weren't from NYC, they would be Flyers fans.
Pittsburgh Penguins
Pearl Jam
Maybe the most prolifically 90's band on the list, paired with a franchise that started the decade off with a bang. Both with frontmen that continue to carry the torch. [P.S. Doesn't Ron Francis look a lot like Eddie Vedder? Ok, maybe not.]

Monday, July 29, 2013

Charly and Me: A Berlocq Story

What a journey it’s been for Charly and Me.  Although we don’t talk after every tournament, I’d say we’re pretty close. But as I watched Carlos Berlocq dispatch a resurgent Fernando Verdasco to win his first ever ATP title in BĂ„stad, Sweden [pronounced BAH-shtod], I knew things were about to change.
Leading 6-5 in the first set, Charly played a prototypical point at 30-All. Tracking down every ball. Never giving up. His hard work earning him yet another set point.
Later, on his sixth set point, Charly put his new found doubles skills to work [he also advanced to the doubles final in Bastad with partner Ramos]. First he fought back a tough half volley and then stabbed a pure reflex volley into the open court. Charly was only one set away from the title and his place in tennis history.
Ok, so a 250-series clay court title won’t punch Charly’s ticket to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, but he will certainly shake his underdog status. That was one thing that drew me to the journeyman. I also have a soft spot for one-handed backhands. However, it was something more that cemented my fanhood.

Monday, July 8, 2013

I voted. Did you?

Where’s my “I voted” sticker, Major League Baseball? There should totally be a sticker just like the one I wear to shame family and friends on election day every two years (Uh, local elections are cool too, guys).  For MLB’s “I Voted” sticker, I can picture a baseball in place of the letter “O” and intersecting mini-baseball bats for all the other letters. (My wife helped this vision become a reality.)

But unlike government elections, baseball’s equivalent of a popularity contest needs stickers to shame people into voting less.  As it stands, anyone registered on can vote up to 35 times for their favorite players in both leagues.  

Here are my issues with this setup.

First, I don’t get the feeling that these are 35 of the most unbiased votes. Let’s be honest, most people simply choose to vote a Straight Party Ticket. I mean who hasn’t SPT’d an election or two? Come on, nobody’s ever heard of some of these district judges before. But with the all-star ballot, the old SPT can get a bit ridiculous. I would say in certain instances it is downright shameful to vote for certain players because they are on your favorite team.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Catching Perfection

Pitching a perfect game is a rare thing. When something has happened only 23 times, that's pretty rare. But that makes catching a perfect game equally as rare. I've got to wonder if the catchers get snubbed a bit in all the hub-bub surrounding a perfect game. Maybe not by their battery mates (King Felix was very gracious during the post game interview), but by us fans.

Jaso, in particular, may deserve a little more credit than usual for helping Felix over the hump. The Mariners traded for Jaso last November. From where? Tampa Bay -- the franchise that drafted him, groomed him through the minors and eventually shipped him to the Pacific Northwest for this guy and cash.  You can believe that Mr. Jaso brought a lot of information about his former teammates with him.

It's not like King Felix was some undeserved bum, but he and Jaso seem to be cosmically linked this season. King Felix had been close to a no hitter before. On April 11, 2007 at Fenway he took a no-no into the 8th. He had already hurled 3 complete game shutouts (5, 3 and 2-hitters, respectively) this season. Coincidentally, on June 28th versus Boston, Jaso was dramatically involved. He did not catch Felix's 5-hit shutout versus Boston, but he entered the game as a pinch hitter in the ninth and drove in the winning run in a 1-0 affair.

When Felix 2-hit the New York Yankees 10 days ago. You guessed it. John Jaso was right there. Not only did the California native squat behind home plate with an above average understanding of AL East hitters. He also crossed home plate in the 2nd inning for the only run of a 1-0 win.

Again it was Jaso who played a leading role in Felix's brilliance. Today, Jaso called the game of his life, using his insider knowledge, and The King hurled them both into the record books.  Take a look at the company they keep. THE PERFECT GAME CLUB

Friday, May 25, 2012

2012 French Open Preview: Davids vs Goliath

I know many of you are getting prepared for Memorial Day barbecues this weekend, and that’s cool.  But while you are thawing some burgers laced with pink slime I will be preparing my French Open bracquet (no typo).  This year’s field of 128 has me particularly excited.  
The Big Three (Sorry, Murray. You’re out.) are rolling to start the year. Djokovic put on a commanding performance at the Australian Open. Fed has four titles already this year, including one on the dreaded blue clay at the Madrid Masters. And Nadal continues to prove why he is the greatest clay court tennis player who ever lived (sorry, Bjorn), storming through the field in Rome last week.
In my opinion, any one of the Big Three would make a sensible championship pick.  All of them should get through to the semis, with Federer having the toughest potential draw (an encounter with either Berdych or Del Potro in the quarters).  However, successfully picking the semis does not win you a Grand Slam bracquet these days, my friend.  The Big Three have made the Grand Slam semis something like 2,712 consecutive times.  Bracquets are won during the first week. Let me help you with that.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

World's Latest Movie Review of Moneyball

As a long-time Oakland A’s fan I was very nervous to see Moneyball. So nervous, in fact, that I waited over year to see it. It wasn’t until a homemade DVD fell into my lap recently that I actually sat down to watch it. Boy, am I glad I did. I thought it was Hollywood where it should have been and baseball where it needed to be.
Ever since I read the book (4 years after it was written) there were rumors circulating about Brad Pitt producing Moneyball: The major motion picture. My apprehension to see the movie started with those early rumors and you could really boil it all down to two main thoughts:
1) I know how the movie ends... and it hurt the first time I lived through it.
2) Movies rarely live up to the lofty standards of their best-selling print counterparts.