Friday, November 30, 2007

Let's Talk Fantasy Basketball

This was my first year participating in fantasy leagues for any sport, ever. I did fantasy baseball, and finished in about the middle of the pack. I'm doing fantasy football, and I'd really rather not talk about that (though I do currently sit in second place in the pick 'em league set up by Tremendous Upside Potential).

And so I decided to go ahead and give fantasy basketball a chance. TUP set up a league, and I joined. I watch professional basketball, and I know many of the players by name and sight (and not just the big guys). I know the game pretty well, and I would describe myself as whatever is a step or two up from "casual fan," but below "obsessive-to-the-point-of-buying-a-Fathead fan." But, I still didn't exactly know the best strategy when it came to our draft. No matter. I just went with what I thought worked in the beginning, and then took what I could get in the later rounds.

We have twelve teams, including teams managed by Depressed Fan and SML, among others. Five categories are used: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. The league is head-to-head, on a weekly basis. So, each week a team has the potential to go 5-0, 0-5, or anything in between.

Here's who I drafted (I don't remember the order, and I'm not going to try to find that): Tim Duncan, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Chris Kaman, Stephon Marbury, Erick Dampier, Al Harrington and Peja Stojakovic.

Early on, I dropped Erick Dampier, and replaced him with Brendan Haywood. I dropped Stephon Marbury the day before he went crazy and left the Knicks when he wasn't getting enough playing time. I added Jamaal Tinsley in his place. Those are the only two moves I've made, and we are now in week five of the competition.

Now you're probably wondering how this team is doing. Well, I'll tell you. Pretty damn good. In fact, I have lost in only one category over the first four weeks (the assists category in week two). Every other week, I have gone 5-0, and it looks promising this week as well, since I think my competitor might have given up on his team, what with plenty of positions being open while his players sit on the bench because he hasn't moved them. And I haven't just squeaked by, either. In most categories every week, I just flat-out dominate.

It helps that on my team I have three members of the defending World Champion San Antonio Spurs, who just bring it with the fundamentals game after game. I also have the guy fifth in the league for ppg (Carmelo Anthony), another guy third on the list for rpg (Chris Kaman), and the guys who are second and fifth in the league in blocks per game (Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman, respectively). Hell, Jamaal Tinsley, who I had never heard of until I needed to replace Marbury, is sixth in the league in apg.

So, after this week I should be 24-1, but I'll be getting a big dose of reality, since I am heading into a much-anticipated (by me, anyway) match-up with Depressed Fan. We've tangled in the baseball world, what with our respective love of rival teams, and now we meet again in basketball, and I don't think I have to tell you all that honor is most assuredly at stake here.

And now we run into the problem of the NBA, at least when it comes to fantasy. Unlike MLB teams, NBA teams do not play everyday. In fact, you'll be lucky if any one team plays four times in a week. Certain match-ups in fantasy basketball can be directly affected by this; if your guys aren't playing, they can't get stats. And, if your competitor happens to have players who have more games that week, there's not a whole lot you can do. I mean, it doesn't make sense to drop guys just because other players who are inferior might be playing more games, right? I like my team, and I want to keep it the way it is.

Starting on Monday, I have 25 players going for me during the week. I'd be willing to bet that's my lowest total so far this season, and it comes at a bad time, since Depressed Fan currently sits in third place in the league. And he, conversely, has 35 players to work with in the same week. Ten more players going against my guys cannot help my stats in any way, so, barring unworldly performances by many of these players for several games, I'll be lucky to come out of the week winning even one category (if we had gone head-to-head last week instead of next week, I would have come out of the bloodbath 4-1; fate is a cruel mistress). At the end of the next week, I will probably see my record go to 24-6, while Depressed Fan moves to 25-5 (assuming he finishes this week where he is right now, ahead in all categories, and then sweeps me). This, my friends, could be a tough week in the Blue Thoughts household. I'll keep you updated (beginning Monday) as the week progresses. Place your bets now.

There will be a rematch in Week 17. I only hope it won't be too late.

UPDATE: I was wrong. Depressed Fan is actually down 5-0 this week, going into play on Saturday and Sunday. So, there is still a chance that, even if he sweeps me next week, I'll still be in good shape when all is said and done. Keep your fingers crossed.


AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 12/03/2007 08:59:18 AM

I've been a very successful Fantasy Basketball player in the past but I've had to give it up because the Yahoo! site isn't accessible here at work. That being said, here are my keys to success:

1) You have to know what the strenghts and weaknesses are of your team. In head to head matchups you only need enough rebounding to beat your opponent, so it doesn't make sense to have three guys averaging 15 boards a game on your team unless they are also averaging 20 points a game.

2) Check the waiver wire every day and check out all the box scores. Almost every player in the NBA can score 20 points a night if given the chance. So, keep an eye on injuries and who the replacements are...then pick them up.

3) Depth, depth, depth. This is going to be important going down the stretch as teams, and players, start to tank.

DATE: 12/03/2007 11:43:30 AM

Thanks for the advice, Jack. I've already resolved myself to getting my ass kicked this week, because there's just not a whole lot I can do about it. My team has been dominant in all categories, so I have to dance with the one who brought me. I can't drop people just because there aren't very many games this week. Next week will be better. That's what I keep telling myself.

DATE: 12/03/2007 12:01:08 PM

I wound up losing 2-3, mostly because of games played. I think your run in first is safe from me, but the GM may catch you.

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 12/03/2007 12:13:05 PM

Yeah, I'm against dropping players just because you have guys playing less games that week. I think it's good to stay with a consistent lineup. I meant more of later in the season when guys are getting hurt. If you watch the boxscores you can pick out the players that are taking their spot and pick them up early. If your players aren't're in really good shape

Is Johan Santana Worth It?

Here is where you are going to get one Boston fan's opinion of all the craziness surrounding a potential trade for Johan Santana. Brian has done a write-up on the Yankees' position in the battle, and so I'm going to tell you a little bit about the Red Sox.

It's pretty simple, really: the Sox have put together a package of Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, and two minor league prospects. If that would get Johan Santana right now, I would have zero problem with it.

I like Jon Lester. I appreciate his resolve, and I think with some consistent playing time, he could be a decent starter. Not a number one, but decent. Still, I could handle losing him in favor of a really great lefty named Santana.

I strongly dislike Coco Crisp. I've mentioned this several times on this blog before. Sure, plenty of my hatred is based on Crisp's putrid offensive ability (I certainly can't fault his defense, but I need some more production at the plate out of my center fielder, please). But there's more to it than that. Two years ago, when the girlfriend and I went down to Anaheim to see the Sox play (as we have for four years in a row now), we were waiting, as we usually do, by the visitors' tunnel, just to see who might come out and be willing to sign. Only a few players ever come out alone, since most get on the team bus and head to the hotel. But, sometimes you get lucky.

So, Coco Crisp came out of the tunnel, obviously meeting some people who were standing there waiting for him. There were, maybe, fifteen Red Sox fans waiting as well. Not exactly a mob. I had zero interest in getting Crisp's autograph, so I just stood there, watching the events unfold. Here's what happened--Crisp greeted a group of about ten people, all of whom were either related to him or close friends. I know because he hugged several, and they began to discuss their plans for the rest of the night. In the group was a young boy, whom Crisp also knew, and Crisp spent some time signing a t-shirt and hat for this kid. This kid that he personally knew.

Fine, whatever. Sign stuff for people you know, even though that really makes no sense to me, especially when you're doing it at a game. Here's where the problem started, though. A few kids wandered closer to Crisp, asking for his autograph. Crisp completely and totally ignored them, and continued talking with his group. Try to remember that this was all happening not behind a barricade or on the playing field. No, this was going on, actually, behind the barricade, where the fans are allowed to stand to wait. So, Crisp was in the middle of the group of fans, positively ignoring any person who showed an interest in him, unless that person happened to be acquainted with him already.

I kid you not, at one point a kid in a wheelchair asked for an autograph, and Crisp ignored him. Now, I've always been of the opinion that signing an autograph is the least a player can do. It's part of the job, even if you think that autographs are stupid. I personally like the look of an autographed ball on my bookshelf, but I'm not going to chase someone down for it. The point is, these players make a lot of money. And a lot of that money comes as a direct result of the fans' worship. So why not reward them with ten minutes of your time? Some players are great about this. Coco Crisp is obviously not one of them.

But my real problem with this whole thing is not that Crisp didn't sign any autographs. He's well within his rights to refuse. However, he literally stood among the fans for close to an hour, ignoring everyone, while he discussed dinner plans with his family and friends. Is there a reason they couldn't have walked to the car and figured things out from there? It was like Crisp wanted to feel important, but not actually have to do anything about it. So he stood among the increasingly less adoring fans, and refused to acknowledge their presence.

Christ, that was a lot longer than I intended it to be. This is not a Coco Crisp post. The point of that whole thing is to illustrate my particular disrespect for the man currently holding the position of center field for the Boston Red Sox. And to that end, a trade sending him away will make me very happy.

What will not make me very happy is losing Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury, two players that the Twins are interested in to make this trade happen. Buchholz is obviously a prized possession in the Red Sox system. The kid threw a no-hitter in his second start. You don't give that up until you've seen what he can really do. As for Ellsbury, well, I really like the kid. Over at Depressed Fan, Jack wrote a comment about how he doesn't really get the love for Ellsbury, because Ellsbury is just another Nick Markakis.

I don't know what to say, statistically, to back up the Ellsbury love. I do know that I think it's pretty impressive to have the kind of postseason that Ellsbury had (.429 OBP, .360 BA, .949 OPS), after only a few games of major league experience (97 at-bats in the regular season). He's lightning fast (scored from second base on a wild pitch during the regular season) and can get on base in a variety of ways. He's also a great defensive center fielder with a stronger arm than Coco Crisp. No, he will probably not ever hit for power. But, why should I care about that? I know, I know. Ladies love the long ball. But, in reality, I'm okay if my lead-off guy doesn't hit a lot of home runs. I mean, he'll be hitting in front of guys like Ortiz and Ramirez, so Ellsbury will be crossing the plate one or two times next season on a home run, even if he's not the one who hits them. Besides, a lot of comparisons have been made to Johnny Damon, so who says the power can't come?

I have watched a few Santana games. I know he's supposed to be great, and it's good that he's left-handed, but I just can't get into him. I know Theo Epstein wants to hold on to Ellsbury, and I hope to god he can stick to his guns on this one. I, of course, would be happy to go through the hassle of signing Santana (since an extension would also have to be negotiated) if Ellsbury or Buchholz were not a part of the package. Thinking from a purely economic standpoint, those are two quality players that the Sox can have at bargain basement prices for several years. Santana will be expensive.

The Yankees probably need Santana more, to avoid having three rookies in their starting rotation (Hughes, Kennedy, Chamberlain). When I put it that way, it would be nice to see the Red Sox get Santana, just to see three rookies in the Yankees' rotation next season. But that's not enough to make me willing to give up these guys I really love.

So, there's a lot of rambling to tell you what I think of the deal. Santana can come if he doesn't cost an arm (Buchholz) and a leg (Ellsbury) in return. Otherwise, Theo needs to just say no.


DATE: 12/02/2007 04:19:28 PM

From what I've read, Theo refuses to add Buckholz in the deal. That's a wise move. I think the Yankees are offering up far too much, topping their own offer. There's no guarantee Santana will be what he was this year. Last year's big free agent was Barry Zito, and he turned in a disappointing season.

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 12/03/2007 01:37:38 PM

Erin....I know this is going to make it seem like I'm out to argue with you all day, but it's really not. I love your blog and highly value your opinion. That being said, do you think you might be a bit wrong about Crisp?

I had two uncle's that played pro ball and we (as a family) would make trips to see them whenever they were close to us. Whenever we'd be there waiting for them after the game they would be so happy to see us. They'd hug us all and make us feel like we were the only one's in the stadium because they hadn't seen any of us since, in some cases, Spring Training. I just checked up on Coco and he's from LA, so that may have been the only chance he got to see his family at that point in the season, so I can kind of see why he would behave that way. I had cousins who were big on getting the autograph of our own Uncle (which I thought was weird), but whatever. My uncles couldn't barely get a word in with my grandparents hugging them so much. it was quite a scene as we tried to make dinner plans.

Normally though, I agree with you...sign away. it's just a signature and it only takes a second. That was one of the many reasons why I was a huge Cal Ripken, Jr. fan.

DATE: 12/03/2007 01:48:17 PM

I would normally think it's not that big of a deal, except that Coco felt like he had to stand there with his family for that long, without signing, knowing full well that he was going somewhere with this entire group (their conversation indicated as much). Ten minutes is one thing. 45 minutes to an hour is quite another, and Coco was just totally giving off the vibe that he wanted to show everyone how popular he was. I'm glad that his family came to see him. It's nice that he gets to spend time with them. But go do it elsewhere. Don't ignore fans, including those in wheelchairs. And especially don't stand in the middle of that group of fans for so long. Walk away, go to dinner, go down the tunnel, whatever.

And, this happened two years in a row (which I neglected to mention, since my girlfriend just reminded me of it).

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 12/03/2007 01:56:16 PM

You'd be surprised how fast 10 minutes turns into 70 minutes when your Aunt Mae is trying to tell Uncle Rob about her new job/dog/broken arm. It's a very weird situation.

I think if he's signing in the other ballparks and doesn't do it in just one because his family is there he should get a pass. Then again, maybe my family and my uncles were being jerks...

DATE: 12/03/2007 01:58:29 PM

All right. If I can find documented evidence that Coco Crisp signs autographs in other ballparks (this is assuming, of course, that people actually want his autograph in other places), maybe I'll give him a break.

AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 12/03/2007 02:25:20 PM

You can still call him a jerk. I have stories where he's been a jerk in minor league ballparks to a fan. Then again, said fan (not me), was probably drunk.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Return

I'm sure you've all been wondering where I've been. Actually, judging from the lack of comments and emails I've received in the last month, I doubt that no one has even noticed my absence. Except for me, of course. I didn't mean to take nearly a full month off from blogging, but, you know, things happen. So, to ease myself back into these waters, I'm just going to make a little list of things that have happened of interest since we last interacted.

-Red Sox Win World Series. Again. Oh, you say I've already covered that? My mistake. I guess I just like saying it over and over. It does not get old. Ever.

-Dodgers Hire Joe Torre. I can't really muster up much in the way of an opinion on this one. It will be weird to see Torre in a different uniform, but beyond that, it'll be hard to say what sort of impact this hiring will have. My real concern is that the Dodgers hold on to the young guys they have, and it remains to be seen how Torre will handle a team full of mostly newbies.

-Spurs Get Off to Best 14-Game Start in Team History (12-2). I once considered covering the Spurs, but I just can't do it. I'll give you updates, sure, but not in-depth analysis. For now, here's what you need to know: the Spurs are now 13-3. They have lost at Dallas, at Houston, and at Sacramento. They are 9-0 at home to begin the season. A good start like this is just icing on the cake, though, since anyone following the team from San Antonio knows that they really hit their stride come February, when they go on the infamous rodeo trip.

-Red Sox Re-sign Mike Lowell. Good, good news. Lowell left some money (and another guaranteed year) on the table in Philadelphia, which just makes guys like Johnny Damon look even worse than they already did. Lowell's been playing long enough to have plenty of money, and the Red Sox are going to make him even more comfortable. Besides that, he'll always be a hero in Boston. Johnny Damon will probably finally break down this season, and two years from now, Yankee fans will forget he played there. Just two different ways of doing things, I guess.

I'm sure there are more issues for me to discuss, but this has exhausted me, and so I must stop for now.


AUTHOR: Jack Cobra
DATE: 11/29/2007 11:20:43 PM

Hey, hey, were definitely missed.

DATE: 11/30/2007 06:49:06 AM

Indeed. Good to see (read) you again.

DATE: 11/30/2007 12:10:15 PM

Welcome back!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Breaking News

The Dodgers have officially hired Joe Torre. More on this in the coming days, once I process the news and figure out what it will mean for the team.


DATE: 11/01/2007 08:03:30 PM

I didn't think they were going to be able to announce it officially until December, when Torre's current deal expires with the Yanks.

Either way, as a whole, the Dodgers will be much better off with Torre. Broxton and Proctor, not so much.

DATE: 11/02/2007 05:24:45 AM

This is going to be weird, seeing Torre and Mattingly in a uniform other than the Yankees. But I like the Dodgers, and they made a definite upgrade.

But as a Sox fan, what are your thoughts on Torre becoming the manager?

DATE: 11/02/2007 11:46:26 PM

The official press conference is supposed to be Monday. It's going to be incredibly strange the first time Torre pulls on that uniform, and it will probably take me all of next season to get used to it.

As for what I think of it as a Sox fan, I guess I don't really care so much. I never really hated Torre, even though I probably should have. I guess I stand in the group that thinks a manager's job is not as important as it seems. He always looked like a nice guy, too, so it's hard to find too much fault with him.

As a Dodger fan, I don't know how successful Torre will be with the blend of players the Dodgers currently have, young and old. That's kind of the reasoning for getting rid of him in New York, right? The Yankees got the better man for that job in Girardi, but perhaps Torre's experience will help. I would imagine that players would respect him more than they respected Grady Little.

DATE: 11/03/2007 05:46:04 AM

Amazingly, Torre has a losing record as a National league manager. Some people think it's harder to manage in this league because of pitchers having to hit for themselves.

Are you of the belief that it takes more effort and strategy to manage a National league team because of the lack of DH?