Sunday, June 29, 2008

'Dem NASCAR Guys Ain't Got Much Use For Book Learnin'

So I'm watching Sportscenter on Sunday morning and the NASCAR highlights come on. Being a Sunday morning, I'm feeling lazy and the idea of changing channels is exhausting, so I decide to ride it out. Thankfully I did because I was treated with a gem from Camping World RV Sales 200-winner Tony Stewart's crew chief Dave Rogers.

Here's what the barely literate Rogers said: "A wise man once said, 'I see so far because I stand on the shoulders of giants'".

Seems innocent enough, so why am I complaining. Well, first, the quote that Rogers attempted (it should read "If I have seen futher it is by standing on the shoulders of giants") wasn't spoken by just some "wise man", it's attributed to Isaac freaking Newton. You know, the guy that is basically the father of physics and calculus, the tools that people smarter than Rogers use to make those cars go so fast. But, surprisingly, referring to one of the greatest geniuses in human history as a "wise man" isn't Rogers biggest mistake.

The problem is that (I think) Rogers was trying to compliment his crew, implying that his (and Tony Stewart's) success is the result of the efforts and sacrifices of every member of his team. That's great and admirable, except that's not even close to reflecting the actual meaning behind Newton's quote. The "giants" quote is almost universally accepted by historians to be the 17th century version of trash talk, with Newton mocking his physically challenged and intellectually inferior rival Robert Hooke. Somehow I don't think this is what Rogers meant to imply about his crew.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Installing Xbox Games

I was at Best Buy the other day, and I found something that seemed seedy; maybe you guys will see it differently. I was looking at Xbox 360 games, and noticed a sticker on one of them offering Best Buy's expertise in installing the game for customers.

What?

Doesn't the installation process for a console game consist of putting the game in the 360 and turning it on? I'm sure it's profitable for Best Buy to charge people whatever they charge for installations, but shouldn't the technicians have some sort of moral problem with it? They know there's nothing to it. If anyone pays to have a console game installed, the technician needs to make sure they only do it once, and they realize how silly it is to pay for that.

Generally I'm fine with exploiting the very stupidest of our fellow humans, but you should feel some kind of guilt when you do it this egregiously. I don't know, maybe I'm a sucker.

Yeah, I'm a sucker.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oh, you were finished? Well, allow me to retort.

I didn’t realize the other Joe was gay for golf, but it’s always nice to have a debate, so let’s get into it.

There’s an aspect of golf and darts and other various sports that bothers me that I didn’t really mention in the previous post, but I’ll bring up now since it’s probably the pinnacle of my disdain.

YOU DON’T PLAY AGAINST ANYONE.

In darts, you’re not trying to outsmart anyone; you just toss metal at a wall. In golf, you’re not competing directly against other golfers; you’re just trying to play as well as you can play. If you’d like a comparison, think of it this way: Is it more gratifying to beat another player/team in a match on Halo, or to have each person play the first level of the campaign and declare as the winner whoever finished it faster? Golf, bowling, darts, figure skating, shot put, these are all “turn-based” sports, if you will. Say what you will about swimming, boxing, sprinting, tennis, or Greco-Roman wrestling, at least they’re head-to-head sports.

“[G]olf requires more precision and concentration than any other sport.” Hmmm, really? Let’s take the same comparison with pitching in baseball and examine it. Starting with when the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher, he has to be mindful of his feet. A balk is about the worst thing a pitcher can do, and it comes from simply forgetting yourself for a split second. Then, he’s actually got to pitch, which is done very differently based on a hundred different variables: who’s batting, who’s on deck, is someone on base, if so, how fast is the guy, how many outs are there, what’s the count, what was the last pitch, what did you throw this guy last time in this situation, do you have any weaknesses behind you in the field, is the sun going to affect the batter’s ability to pick up the rotation on the ball, etc etc? Then, after getting all of your preparation together, he’s got to actually pitch, which is just as complex as swinging a club, and a millisecond or millimeter difference can take you from double play to gopher ball. Yep, golfing and pitching are pretty similar…except that when you hit a golf ball, you don’t have a 220-pound cyborg named Dan Uggla trying to turn your pitch around and send it into the bleachers. There’s a pond, but they tend to be a little more predictable…in that they don’t move.

And I like how Joe mentions that golf takes 4+ hours and football takes only 3, and that they get breaks in football, but fails to mention that football players actually have to touch other football players. I’m not arguing the fact that professional golfers are athletes; in order to play any sport well, you’ve got to build your body for that sport. And general physical fitness always puts you in a better position to be successful at a task that requires physical acumen (or so I hear; physical fitness isn’t my forte). In football, you have to prepare yourself for thirty live minutes of combat among 3 hours of walking around, studying, and getting yelled at, rather than four hours of walking, with 50 big swings and 25 small ones mixed in.

In fairness to golf, I’ve never played an organized game of golf in my life; just a couple of those par 2 courses (or as many call them, miniature golf courses). But you know what? I’ve never played an organized game of football. I’ve never played hockey on any level. I haven’t played any game of tennis that I wasn’t forced to play by some sadistic P.E. teacher. But I can appreciate the competitive nature of those sports, and I can understand people who enjoy those sports (I myself like that foose ball). I’m not saying that golf isn’t fun to play, because I don’t know, maybe it is. But I am saying that I don’t understand how people can want to watch golf on television. When I watch sports, I’m not trying to watch something “done well.” I’m trying to see someone beat someone else. Playing the best round of the day is great, but there’s no adversary nature to that. Golfers even seem to generally like each other, always shaking hands and smiling. Gag me. Bill Belichick may be a bastard, but there’s no doubt he makes football more fun. The more definitively teams are divided into “teams I want to see win” and “teams I want to see lose,” the more fun it is to watch games.

It may simply be that I have some genetic flaw (or lack a flaw that many other people have) that prevents me from being able to see why golf is important to so many people. I’m more of a team sport kind of guy anyways, so maybe that’s part of the equation here. One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t talk people into not liking something they like, so obviously my writing here is in vain. I just enjoy a good fight, and since your two hosts of Joe & Joe Sports tend to agree on so much, we have to highlight our rare disagreements. Especially when I’m right.

Fantasy Football Mock Draft - Complete

So here's the full fantasy football draft article, as per my promise from over the weekend. And don't worry; there'll be a retort to Golf-Lover Joe soon enough.

It’s never too early to start talking fantasy football, so that’s exactly what I’m about to do. I’ve already participated in several mock drafts; despite what you might think, you really don’t know anything until you get into a draft and see what happens.

What follows is my most recent foray, and I learned a lot from the first few that helped me figure out how to go into this one. I’ll be posting a new round once or twice daily (on weekdays) until we’ve got them all. Some quick math says the whole draft should be posted by the end of the month. I provide some tips as I go through the draft, but you should realize pretty quickly what my strategy this year is going to be. Want a clue? Don’t do what I’ve been telling you to do.

My picks are bolded …like this:

Round 1
  1. LaDainian Tomlinson
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. Brian Westbrook
  4. Steven Jackson
  5. Joseph Addai
  6. Randy Moss
  7. Marion Barber
  8. Tom Brady
  9. Peyton Manning
  10. Frank Gore
Analysis: Historically, I’ve advised taking running backs in at least 2 of the first 3 rounds, and 3 of the first 5. And that can work. But this year, if you’re after pick #5, your first round pick probably needs to not be a running back. You can logically take Marion Barber, but think about this. Even if you take Barber or Gore, the people at picks 1-5 still have an advantage over you at RB. But if you grab Moss, Brady, Manning, or Reggie Wayne (and I rank them in that order), you can reliably say that you’ll have one of the two best players at that position. Think you’ll take a hit at running back? Maybe, but let’s see how things pan out.

Round 2
  1. Willis McGahee
  2. Clinton Portis
  3. Reggie Wayne
  4. Marshawn Lynch
  5. Larry Johnson
  6. Ryan Grant
  7. Terrell Owens
  8. Maurice Jones-Drew
  9. Andre Johnson
  10. Tony Romo
Analysis: This pick probably befuddles you even more than the first one. A couple of high level running backs are still around in Johnson and Grant, but we went with Wayne to lock in one of the most reliable and productive options at WR over the past five years. His numbers are right up there with the best in football, and he’s essentially taken over the #1 slot from Harrison. Owens is a fine pick here as well, but you just never know with Owens. Wayne is a lock. Still no running back, and you’re probably telling your children to hide their eyes from how this team will look in the end.

Round 3
  1. San Diego DEF
  2. Braylon Edwards
  3. Steve Smith
  4. Laurence Maroney
  5. Larry Fitzgerald
  6. Brandon Jacobs
  7. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
  8. Ronnie Brown
  9. Marques Colston
  10. Plaxico Burress
Analysis: So there he is, my first running back selection of the draft. I’m a big fan of Ronnie Brown; I think last year we just saw the beginning of what he can be. He’s a big time player in the running and passing games, and barring another injury, should be a great pick at this point in the draft. Is he Tomlinson? No. But you know, statistically, he was right there with Tomlinson before he got hurt, so you can feel good about Brown, despite not feeling good about the Dolphins (as none do).

Round 4
  1. Anquan Boldin
  2. Jamal Lewis
  3. Chad Johnson
  4. Torry Holt
  5. Brandon Marshall
  6. Drew Brees
  7. Wes Welker
  8. Derek Anderson
  9. Michael Turner
  10. Antonio Gates
Analysis: Around now is probably when you’d throw your hands in the air and say, “I don’t know what he’s thinking. Michael Turner was still out there, he could’ve locked up another starting running back!” Turner sure was out there, along with Darren McFadden and Willie Parker, but take a look at all the other teams. Six teams went with my (and most guys’) traditional strategy, and had two running backs by the end of the third round, including five of the seven teams that would pick before my next pick. They don’t want to get left behind at WR or QB, so they’ll be filling those positions over the next two rounds, as well as the occasional tight end. That means running backs will fall. Meanwhile, the drop-off at wide receiver after Johnson and Holt was severe. Johnson is younger, so I took him.

Round 5
  1. Jason Witten
  2. Carson Palmer
  3. Greg Jennings
  4. Roy Williams
  5. Darren McFadden
  6. Santonio Holmes
  7. Ben Roethlisberger
  8. Kellen Winslow
  9. Marvin Harrison
  10. Tony Gonzalez
Analysis: After all of my talk about how Turner, McFadden, or Parker would fall to me, sure enough, Parker did. And then I passed on him. How could I do something so incredibly stupid (or brilliant)? With Gates and Witten off the board, and many teams having filled a number of skill positions, tight ends figured to start going soon. Winslow is my favorite fantasy tight end after Gates, so I took a chance on Parker dropping through four picks by two guys who both had two starting RBs already. Does it work?

Round 6
  1. Calvin Johnson
  2. Roddy White
  3. Willie Parker
  4. Dwayne Bowe
  5. Donovan McNabb
  6. Hines Ward
  7. Dallas Clark
  8. Joey Galloway
  9. Lee Evans
  10. Reggie Bush
Analysis: The answer is yes, my gambit worked. Parker slid four more picks (including one tight end pick) and was available in the sixth round, one year after being a top 10 pick in most drafts. Needless to say, I’m happy to have him. So where do I go now, with one WR slot, kicker, and defense open? Stay tuned.

Round 7
  1. Thomas Jones
  2. Chris Cooley
  3. Donald Lee
  4. Matt Hasselbeck
  5. Laveranues Coles
  6. Jeremy Shockey
  7. Vernon Davis
  8. Earnest Graham
  9. Minnesota DEF
  10. Marc Bulger
Analysis: I go for another running back, of course. Listen, I wasn’t wrong back in my early days to tell you that you need to load up on running back. You do. But you have to make the right picks at the right times, and any poker player will tell you that the way to make money is to act in a way that’s different from everyone else at the table. So, early on when everyone is loading up on RBs, you take WRs and a QB. Then later, when people need WRs and QBs, you go for that running back depth. You should try to enter every season with at least 4 starting running backs. Graham was very effective in the second half of last season, and figures to be on top of the depth chart in Tampa Bay. I’ll take him.

Round 8
  1. Donald Driver
  2. Heath Miller
  3. New England DEF
  4. Chicago DEF
  5. New York Giants DEF
  6. Benjamin Watson
  7. Pittsburgh DEF
  8. Rashard Mendenhall
  9. Dallas DEF
  10. Edgerrin James
Analysis: A lot of the time, I’m not in favor of picking up defenses early. But with as bad as the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets offenses might be, and with solid talent all over, the Patriots defense is compelling. In retrospect, I might have been better off taking Mendenhall and locking up the Steelers’ running back situation, but I had hoped I could wait another round for him. Oh well, that’s the nature of a fantasy football draft. You analyze risk versus reward and hope for the best. I’m not mad about getting New England’s defense. Not mad at all.

Round 9
  1. Patrick Crayton
  2. Nick Folk
  3. Green Bay DEF
  4. Shayne Graham
  5. Jacksonville DEF
  6. Adam Vinatieri
  7. Nate Kaeding
  8. Chris Chambers
  9. LenDale White
  10. Rudi Johnson
Analysis: Not too much to say at this point, just filling out my team with depth where I believe it to be most worthwhile. Chambers is a solid veteran who probably won’t explode for big time stats, but should be a nice reliable option to round out the starting wideouts. I looked at Rudi Johnson here, but decided that situation was too murky to get involved in.

Round 10
  1. Stephen Gostkowski
  2. Bobby Engram
  3. Jerricho Cotchery
  4. Jonathan Stewart
  5. Matt Forte
  6. Eli Manning
  7. Kevin Smith
  8. Mason Crosby
  9. Fred Taylor
  10. Jake Delhomme
Analysis: I’m a little bit ashamed to say it, but I’m a Jets fan, so I like to grab one or two every year, since they’re normally not too expensive and can sometimes be a nice surprise. Cotchery has had back-to-back solid seasons, so there’s reason for optimism here.

Round 11
  1. Rob Bironas
  2. Kevin Curtis
  3. Aaron Rodgers
  4. David Garrard
  5. Bernard Berrian
  6. Jay Cutler
  7. Santana Moss
  8. Julius Jones
  9. Reggie Williams
  10. Todd Heap
Analysis: More evidence to suggest that drafting running backs early, especially in a public league, can be a mistake. Jones is likely going to be getting the majority of carries in Seattle, and here he is sitting there at my pick in the eleventh round. I’m happy.

Round 12
  1. Philip Rivers
  2. Vince Young
  3. Javon Walker
  4. Anthony Gonzalez
  5. Reggie Brown
  6. David Akers
  7. Owen Daniels
  8. Justin Fargas
  9. Matt Schaub
  10. D.J. Hackett
Analysis: This was after the news came out about Walker getting beaten up and robbed in Las Vegas, so that may explain why he fell so far. But he’s got #1 receiver talent and the opportunity to prove it. I have to think that he’ll feel more comfortable and perform better after getting out of Denver, where his friend and teammate Darrent Williams was shot and killed right in front of him. Hopefully the recent attack hasn’t done any permanent damage, and Walker can get back to doing what he does best, which is catch touchdowns.

Round 13
  1. Josh Scobee
  2. Nate Burleson
  3. Derrick Mason
  4. Jerry Porter
  5. Tennessee DEF
  6. Bryant Johnson
  7. Tony Scheffler
  8. Selvin Young
  9. Josh Brown
  10. Baltimore DEF
Analysis: Not much to analyze, just taking a chance on a potential starting running back. I’ve only got one starting position left open (kicker), and I think you all know when to get a kicker.

Round 14
  1. Ronald Curry
  2. Desmond Clark
  3. John Kitna
  4. Jason Campbell
  5. Alge Crumpler
  6. Ted Ginn
  7. Isaac Bruce
  8. Joe Jurevicius
  9. Greg Olsen
  10. Terry Glenn
Analysis: Kitna was the twelfth best quarterback last year, and the offense figures to be high-flying once again, if for no other reason than the Lions still have no defense and a bunch of quality receivers. For one or two weeks out of a season, I’m comfortable handing things over to Kitna.

Round 15
  1. Donte Stallworth
  2. Phil Dawson
  3. Shaun Alexander
  4. Seattle DEF
  5. Felix Jones
  6. Neil Rackers
  7. Indianapolis DEF
  8. Leon Washington
  9. Arizona DEF
  10. DeAngelo Williams
Analysis: Exactly. A couple of previous comments of mine come to fruition here. First, when I said you know when to take a kicker, the answer is, “after the draft.” Don’t draft a kicker, because in the past three years, the best kickers in fantasy football have been Mason Crosby, Robbie Gould, and Neil Rackers, none of whom was drafted at any reliable rate in that year’s drafts. Just grab a kicker right before the season starts, and always be willing to rotate them out. They’re worthless. Second, I’ve taken another New York Jet, and Washington is a guy I really like. I’m hoping they give him at least a 50/50 split, because Washington has great potential to be a fantasy force.

Final Roster
QB – Tom Brady
RB – Ronnie Brown
RB – Willie Parker
WR – Reggie Wayne
WR – Chad Johnson
WR – Chris Chambers
TE – Kellen Winslow
K – open
DEF – New England

BN – Jon Kitna
BN – Earnest Graham
BN – Julius Jones
BN – Selvin Young
BN – Leon Washington
BN – Jerricho Cotchery

Analysis: I love this team. Not like, love. Having two great wide receivers puts me above most other teams in that regard, and Tom Brady should be as good as anyone under center. And nobody can argue that a combo of Ronnie Brown and Willie Parker can’t be one of the best 1-2 punches in your league. Between Graham, Young, and Jones, I should have two starting running backs on my bench, and Cotchery can fill in as needed for bye weeks and such. LOVE.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why Golf Is Relevant

If you thought I was going to sit idly by why Joe bashed golf, well, most of the time you would have been right. But not today. Even with Tiger Woods missing the rest of the 2008 season, people, including me, are going to continue to watch golf... and here is why.

First, the idea that golf is comparable to darts is ridiculous. No, wait, not ridiculous, something stronger than ridiculous, maybe ludicrous, yeah, I'm going with that. Sure the tasks are similar, "Put a small item into a small area", but that's exactly what a pitcher in baseball is trying to do and I don't think anybody would say that baseball athletes are equivalent to dart tossers. Make no mistake, golfers are athletes. Propelling a golf ball 300+ yards is a full body activity and golfers like Camilo Villegas, Aaron Baddeley and, yes, Tiger Woods, are showing that fitness and athleticism are just as important in golf as in any other sport (yep, you are saying "what about John Daly's fat ass?" and to that I say: David Wells, Charles Barkley and Tony Siragusa).

Additionally, golf requires more precision and concentration than any other sport. As far as precision is concerned, baseball is often called "a game of inches" and this is no doubt true, but golf is much, much finer. A few hundredths of an inch makes the difference between a precise stroke and one that finds the deep rough. Another few hundredths of an inch makes the difference between a ball that stops ten feet from the pin and one that rolls right through and into a green-side bunker. The ability of a player to control his muscles to deliver a quality strike time and time again is one of the most difficult tasks in all of sport and I know this because very few people can actually do it. This also speaks to the intense concentration it takes to be a professional golfer. With rounds typically lasting more than four hours, there are few sports that require their athletes to concentration for this length of time. Football, baseball and basketball games rarely last more than 3 hours and all these sports have long breaks during which players can regroup and refocus if things aren't going correctly. Having to maintain the mental focus to perform a difficult and precise task is the very essence of sport.

On to the argument that nobody will watch golf now that Tiger is out. Umm, no, that's not true. While Woods definitely brings alot of focus on the sport, PGA tour events will continue to be widely watched, analyzed and appreciated. The two remaining majors will definitely garner attention, with the history and uniqueness of the British Open and the always competitive PGA Championship. But those two events aside, golf will remain very, very popular. How do I know this? Well, like everything else, just look at the money. Again, Tiger is the best at bringing in dollars (in both golf and all of professional sports, making a jaw dropping $127 million in 2007), but guess who was the second highest grossing professional athlete last year, that's right another golfer. Phil Mickelson made over $62 million in 2007, which is well behind Tiger, but over 50% more than the next closest athlete, Lebron James. The interesting thing about Phil is that over 80% of his earnings came from endorsements, not winnings. That means companies ponied up alot of dough to have Phil endorse their product because they know alot of eyes are going to be on their guy. And over $50 million means that ALOT of eyes have to be on your guy. With that much money invested in a guy that isn't Tiger, you can rest assured that the PGA remain on the public's mind and on Sportscenter (sorry Joe), even without the best player in the world.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ty Lawson is staying at UNC.

http://www.tylawson.org/steele.php

Unfortunately, it looks like Ty Lawson won't be available when the Wizards draft at the 18th pick in the NBA's 2008 draft this Thursday night. Current projections have the Wizards going big at their pick, selecting either Roy Hibbert, the center out of Georgetown or Darrell Arther, power forward from Kansas. Neither of them makes the team substantially better, but I guess that's what happens when you're at the beginning of the non-lottery portion of the draft. You get okay players and just stay around the 12th best team in the NBA.

Switcheroo

I've been looking at the previous posts concerning the fantasy football draft I was posting round-by-round, and while I think they're good, they would probably be better served by being all posted together. The chronology will make it easier to see how the draft progresses, and you won't have to search around other, unrelated posts. So on Monday morning, I'll post the whole draft, along with all of my comments, in one massive post. The intro and the first couple of rounds will be redundant, but I'll include them just so you can remember where we were in the draft when I left off.

See you Monday.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Who's happy that Tiger is going to miss the rest of the golf season? This guy!

Now, that’s not to say that I take direct pleasure from the pain that others endure. That’s almost never the case. But I thank my lucky stars that Tiger Woods won’t be playing in any more tournaments this year. Am I a Tiger-hater? Not at all. Do I really like Phil Mickelson, or Ernie Els, or Vijay Singh? Nope. How, then, can I be so delighted that Tiger Woods has been sidelined?

Because I hate golf. You know what doesn’t matter? Golf. I mean, no sports really matter, in the grand scheme of things, but golf is completely irrelevant, even on a sports level. Think I’m wrong? Ask yourself how many golfers you actually legitimately care about. What’s the number? One? Maybe two or three that you really want to see either win or lose? Out of how many? Hundreds? And if one of those golfers isn’t Tiger (or if you remove Tiger from your list), how many tournaments come by that those golfers are even relevant? Maybe 20%, if you’re talking about Mickelson or Els? Trevor Immelman won the Masters this year for his second win ever, I bet he’s one of yours.

No, the reality is that people pick up the story of the week every single tournament. Paul Goydos was the story at The Players Championship in May, and Rocco Mediate was the story at last week’s U.S. Open. And there’s another story every time golfers get together. I’m not trying to come down on the people who play golf and get these brief moments in the spotlight; I live every day hoping for those moments, and they never come.

But I do mean to trivialize their accomplishments. The sport of golf is only marginally more impressive than darts. You play golf outdoors, and tend to not be on your fourth Crown and coke, staring at that buxom blonde across the bar when you’re playing golf. The tasks are the same, though. Put a small item (a golf ball, or the tip of a dart) into a small area (cup, bullseye) on a relatively large field (hole, dart board). You get at least two tries in golf, and just one in darts, but you’re splitting hairs at that point. It should come as no surprise that people enjoy playing Golden Tee (which I think is retarded) and beer pong, as well as darts, when drinking. When your mind is feeling lazy, you want to play a simple game. There are few people who want to break out a chess board after they’ve been drinking, or who bring Risk to the bar.

And don’t make me laugh and call it a spectator sport, when it’s anything but. What kind of spectator sport demands complete silence while the player is getting ready to perform? Think about those kinds of moments in other sports: setting up for a field goal in football, taking a free throw in basketball, throwing a pitch on a full count. Those are among the loudest moments you’ll see in a competitive game, because the crowd is trying to rattle the competitor. In golf, it’s considered bad form to make any noise at all while a player is getting ready to tee off, which is fortunate, because nobody cares enough to actually want to rattle anyone.

The most ridiculous part of professional golf is that everyone’s favorite player is the same guy: Tiger Woods. What kind of bogus sport is that, where everyone’s cheering for only one guy? Even in tennis, which has a lot of the same flaws as golf, not everyone cheers for Nadal or Roddick or Federer, just as not everyone cheered for Agassi or Sampras or Borg or Ashe or McEnroe. Everyone had their own favorites, and the clashes made for great TV and great debate. But when everyone likes the same guy, there are no debates, there are no great matches. People cheered for Rocco Mediate because they knew nothing about him. “Who’s this nobody challenging Tiger? Let’s see what he’s got!”

So back to the point of this post: why am I happy that Tiger Woods has gotten himself hurt and won’t be around? Because I’m sick of golf taking up 3 minutes of SportsCenter, or thirty minutes of a sports radio show. I don’t give a whirl about how Justin Leonard was able to stave off a late surge by Biggle McBaggyPants. I don’t care about Tiger doing it either, but at least now, a lot of the big sports people will be in the same boat. The guys on Around the Horn always comment about how a golf tournament isn’t legitimate unless Tiger is playing in it. Hopefully that means they won’t talk about any for the next six months. I want golf to slip into the sports subconscious; bring it back if you must when Tiger is back, but let me have this time. Let baseball and football and basketball have this time.

Fantasy Football Mock Draft - Round 3

Round 3
  1. San Diego DEF
  2. Braylon Edwards
  3. Steve Smith
  4. Laurence Maroney
  5. Larry Fitzgerald
  6. Brandon Jacobs
  7. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
  8. Ronnie Brown
  9. Marques Colston
  10. Plaxico Burress

Analysis: So there he is, my first running back selection of the draft. I’m a big fan of Ronnie Brown; I think last year we just saw the beginning of what he can be. He’s a big time player in the running and passing games, and barring another injury, should be a great pick at this point in the draft. Is he Tomlinson? No. But you know, statistically, he was right there with Tomlinson before he got hurt, so you can feel good about Brown, despite not feeling good about the Dolphins (as none do).

Fantasy Football Mock Draft - Round 2

Round 2
  1. Willis McGahee
  2. Clinton Portis
  3. Reggie Wayne
  4. Marshawn Lynch
  5. Larry Johnson
  6. Ryan Grant
  7. Terrell Owens
  8. Maurice Jones-Drew
  9. Andre Johnson
  10. Tony Romo

Analysis: This pick probably befuddles you even more than the first one. A couple of high level running backs are still around in Johnson and Grant, but we went with Wayne to lock in one of the most reliable and productive options at WR over the past five years. His numbers are right up there with the best in football, and he’s essentially taken over the #1 slot from Harrison. Owens is a fine pick here as well, but you just never know with Owens. Wayne is a rock. Still no running back, and you’re probably telling your children to hide their eyes from how this team will look in the end...

...oh, who am I kidding? If you care this much about fantasy football, no woman would sleep with you. So barring an adoption (likely a result of a string of escalating dares), you've got no children with eyes to shield.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fantasy Football Mock Draft

It’s never too early to start talking fantasy football, so that’s exactly what I’m about to do. I’ve already participated in several mock drafts; despite what you might think, you really don’t know anything until you get into a draft and see what happens.

What follows is my most recent foray, and I learned a lot from the first few that helped me figure out how to go into this one. I’ll be posting a new round once or twice daily (on weekdays) until we’ve got them all. Some quick math says the whole draft should be posted by the end of the month. I provide some tips as I go through the draft, but you should realize pretty quickly what my strategy this year is going to be. Want a clue? Don’t do what I’ve been telling you to do.

My picks are bolded …like this:

Round 1

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. Brian Westbrook
  4. Steven Jackson
  5. Joseph Addai
  6. Randy Moss
  7. Marion Barber
  8. Tom Brady
  9. Peyton Manning
  10. Frank Gore
Analysis: Historically, I’ve advised taking running backs in at least 2 of the first 3 rounds, and 3 of the first 5. And that can work. But this year, if you’re after pick #5, your first round pick probably needs to not be a running back. You can logically take Marion Barber, but think about this. Even if you take Barber or Gore, the people at picks 1-5 still have an advantage over you at RB. But if you grab Moss, Brady, Manning, or Reggie Wayne (and I rank them in that order), you can reliably say that you’ll have one of the two best players at that position. Think you’ll take a hit at running back? Maybe, but we'll see how things pan out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Radio Show

We posted a new radio show last night. Topics of conversation were:
  • Who was the better all-time defensive lineman: Michael Strahan or Warren Sapp?
  • How much credit can we give Tim Donaghy's allegations of misconduct in the 2002 NBA Western Conference playoffs?
  • Can the Lakers come back to win the NBA title? (Obviously this has become easier to answer today)
We've gotten pretty good at keeping our shows under an hour now, so you have no excuse to not listen....oh hell, you've got plenty of excuses, but listen anyways.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The All "Former Cleveland Indians Prospects" Team

I've been noticing the names of a few former Cleveland Indians prospects on "Baseball Tonight" box scores lately. Things like Milton Bradley 2-3 2HR and Ryan Ludwick 2-4 2HR tend to standout. This got me thinking if I could put together a major league team with former Indians prospects (note: I'm talking prospects here, not guys like Omar Vizquel, Jason Michaels or Kevin Millwood who left due to free agency or were ineffective at the big league level). Anyway, not only could I put together a team, but it's a pretty good team, check it out (2008 stats in parenthesis):

1B - Ben Broussard (ave .159, obp .225, slug .268)
2B - Brandon Philips (.273/.319/.496)
SS - Joe Inglett (.281/.347/.391)
3B - Kevin Kouzmanoff (.266/.311/.405)
RF - Ryan Church (.300/.365/.522)
CF - Brian Barton (.242/.339/.343)
LF - Ryan Ludwick (.310/.379/.647)
C - Chris Coste (.315/.374/.556)
DH - Milton Bradley (.338/.456/.642)

SP - Jeremy Guthrie (era 3.40, whip 1.20, k/9 5.9)
SP - Tim Lincecum (2.15, 1.22, 9.0)
RP - Brian Tallet (2.49, 1.38, 7.8)
RP - Andrew Brown (2.45, 1.20, 7.4)

Others: John McDonald, Maicer Izturis, Josh Bard

Ok, a couple of things. First, I hate putting Ben Broussard on this list, he's awful, he was awful in Cleveland and he'll probably be awful for years to come. Fortunately for the Indians, they made the right choice with Ryan Garko and Broussard is their best former first base prospect currently in baseball.

Second, adding Tim Lincecum to the list is kinda unfair. He was drafted by Cleveland in 2005, but didn't sign (rumor has it the difference between the two parties was a few $100k). This happens pretty regularly with top college prospects/guys that are tough to sign, so it's probably something every team has done. We won't be mentioning him any further.

Third, I was floored by the raw number of former Indians prospects currently in the bigs. I could have also included guys like Jody Gerut and Russell Branyan, but I don't think that really changes things. Still, I've listed 15 guys (16 minus Lincecum) and that seems like alot.

Ok, so what does this all mean. First, the Indians have a great minor league system. I don't think any baseball people will disagree with that. Almost all of their recent success has come from the cultivation of prospects like Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and Fausto Carmona. In the course of evaluating talent there are going to be some hits and misses, so even the best GMs (Ok, maybe not Billy Beane) are going to have "the one that got away". But look at that list again, there are 5 guys slugging near or over .500, there are two guys with OPS over 1.000, there is one guy that represents half of the second basemen ever to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases. That's not missing on a few guys, that's a disaster.

Of course, if the Indians already have talented players in place even top-prospects will have to be traded away to "win now" or will simply run out of options with the club and be forced to move on. That is not the case here. Take a look at the Indians depth chart here. According to my high tech calculations, the current Indians position players are much better than the guys listed above at three positions (C, 1B and CF) and the rejects are much, much better at four positions (2B, RF, LF, DH). Jhonny Peralta is more proven than part timers Joe Inglett or John McDonald, so he gets the nod at SS (although if Peralta is going to hit .230 and be a defensive liability, one might wonder "why not go with a defensive guy?") and Kevin Kouzmanoff is better than Casey Blake. So the grand total is 5-4 in favor of the rejects. Not good.

But like I said above, if the Cleveland front office traded away these prospects in the name of winning in the moment it would be tough to blame them. It would also be tough to criticize if these guys were traded for better or more "sure thing" prospects. Again, this is not the case here. Of the 15 guys listed above, five were waived or unprotected (Inglett, Ludwick, Barton, Coste and Guthrie). For the other ten, the Indians currently have five major leaguers to show for it and it's tough to classify these five guys as major league quality. They are: Shin-Soo Choo, Josh Barfield, Franklin Gutierrez, Andy Marte and Kelly Shoppach. In fact, Marte and Shoppach were dealt from Boston for Coco Crisp, David Riske and Josh Bard, so it's very tough to say they were aquired for Bard (note: Crisp could have been considered as a prospect, but with three seasons with 400+ ABs in Cleveland I felt like he was pretty well established, and he sucks. Riske is also a major leaguer, but, again, established.). The "franchise five" are hitting a combined .232 with a whopping 5 home runs and 25 RBI in 111 games. Of these five, none are better than the "rejected" player at his corresponding position (if you consider all outfield positions equal, Gutierrez and Brian Barton are pretty similar, but to the best of my knowledge, Gutierrez has never been considered one of Baseball America's Top 100 prospects like Barton was in 2007). So to summarize, that's 15 major leaguers with Franklin Gutierrez to show for it.

As an Indians fan, it's tough to look down that list and wonder if one of those 15 players could have been parlayed into a player that would have pushed them over the hump from being a team that went to game 7 of the 2007 ALCS to American League Champions (even more frustrating is that maybe they only needed one player to give them one more regular season win to finish with a better regular season record than Boston, pushing game 7 to Cleveland instead of Beantown). It's also frightening that Indians management has a history of giving up on highly ranked prospects when they struggle early in their careers (especially with the current ineffectiveness of once revered prospects Josh Barfield and Andy Marte). For a small market team that acknowledges that they can't afford to make mistakes, I see too many in the past of the Cleveland Indians and, even worse, I see the potential for more in the near future.

Of course maybe I'm blowing this all out of proportion, maybe this happens all the time in baseball and maybe I'm only seeing the Indians failures because they are the team I'm most attuned to. With that in mind, I'm going to make this a mini-series here at Joe and Joe Sports, looking at two more teams: the low-budget hero Oakland A's and the mid-market disappointment Baltimore Orioles. Hopefully, this will add some perspective to the Indians situation as well as give some insight into the success rate of front offices around the league. At the end I'll try to bring everything together and provide some conclusions (or maybe not), so check back soon.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Great Piece on Barry Bonds

Tim Brown (the sportswriter, not the former Raiders wide receiver) has written a very compelling article on the hypocritical nature of baseball's desire to distance themselves from Barry Bonds. Many of you feel differently than I do about Bonds, but Brown manages to perfectly capture my sentiments. It's a quick read, but it'll make you think about your standpoint, and wonder if maybe Joe was right all along....

....this Joe, not the other one. There's no wondering about him, he's always right.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Due to Technical Difficulties....

...our show last night was canceled. Someone lives in an apartment building that gets affected by thunderstorms. We're hoping to get a show in tonight or tomorrow night, but schedules are tight, so unfortunately we can't make any guarantees except this: there will be more shows.

Someday. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Show Scheduled: June 3, 2008

Get ready for a Joe & Joe Short tonight, focusing solely on the NBA Finals. We'll talk about the matchup, give our predictions, and maybe look back a little bit at the classic Lakers/Celtics matchups of the 1980s. Not unlike Michael Ian Black, we love the '80s.

Show starts at 8:00 PM.

Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...