Archive for March, 2011

Love Boat Captain

Love Boat Captain by Pearl Jam

First comes love, then comes pain…
Let the games begin.
Questions rise and answers fall…
Insurmountable.

“Love Boat Captain”

 
It’s been a really long wait. Year four of The Foul Line fantasy baseball league is finally here, and I know that everyone is excited to get things going. I’m excited to have the gang back together, along with first-timer Allan. I really appreciate everyone coming back for another year of smack talk and friendly competition.

But first things first.

Season 3 ended with a bit of a whimper, with the Love Boat Captains beating our butts for the second year in a row. In our highly competitive league, to win once is incredible — to win twice is just crazy.

I feel I did a poor job in recognizing this amazing accomplishment. There was no prize package of useless baseball trinkets or parade in her honor. Just a few congrats and we all went into the off season with our tails between our legs and our pride hurt again. So this post is titled in honor of two-time champion Ginger and her Love Boat Captains.

It’s not a trophy, but at least you get a post named after you.

This year’s winner gets a trophy.

2011 THE FOUL LINE FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT

What a great turnout for the draft. All ten owners showed up prepared and eager to pick the team to take them all the way. I love the draft. No matter how much you prepare, you just never know who the owner in front of you is going to take. It’s exciting and infuriating at the same time. Here’s my take on our draft, round by round. Enjoy.

Shocker! Albert Pujols went first.

I know Dan mulled over this decision for days. Should he take the greatest player on the planet, playing for a new contract, or should he grab one of the two elite shortstops? This was a no-brainer. Write him in for 40 home runs and 120 RBIs.

And the first pitcher taken is Roy… Wait, what?

After a predictable next three picks of Tulowitzki, Hanley, and Cabrera, Sam’s Baseball Train grabs Cliff Lee, and the other 9 owners’ jaws hit the floor. Isn’t there another Phillies pitcher that might be a little better?

And the Yankeehaters are on the clock…

I really debated this decision. I hate the #6 pick. I prayed that Tulowitzki would fall to me… Strike 1. Then I hoped I’d get Miggy Cabrera… Strike 2!

In my mind there are four elite outfielders in baseball (Braun, CarGo, Crawford, and Holliday). I figured I’d grab the one that has the best track record. The pick is Braun, and I’m ok with it.

UNsportsmanMike grabs Adrian Gonzalez at 7. I’m a little leery of taking a guy coming off shoulder surgery. Gonzo is eventually going to tear it up at Fenway, but I thought this was a little early.

With a fresh McDonalds sundae in hand, Allan takes Dan’s man-crush Evan Longoria at 8, and the already shallow 3B position takes a hit.

LBC took NL MVP Joey Votto in the 5th round last year, and she steals him again this year at 9. It’s not the sexiest pick, but a great one nonetheless.

How come when I get autodrafted, I get stuck with Dice K and Julio Lugo?

RedRays’s computer freezes up, and he gets Halladay and King Felix. Good things happen to good people.

A catcher in the second round?

I always prefer a good hitter to a good pitcher, and it looks like most of the league felt the same way. I believe that there are 3 stud catchers, and then the rest are pretty comparable. Allan opened the flood gates, and V-Mart, Mauer, and Posey were gone. I guess I’ll wait until round 10 to take a catcher…

Don’t look now, but the first basemen are going fast.

Hmmm… Who do I take? The douchebag Yankee or the 300-pound vegetarian in his contract year?

Round 3 might be the best round for all of us. Quality picks all around:

> Dan gives me an eff-you and grabs Pedroia
> Chefdick takes fireballer Josh Johnson
> Willis takes the #4 rated hitter, Teixeira
> BBB takes the guy with the best name in baseball, Buster Posey
> I loved Sam’s pick, Dan Uggla. He’s gonna do damage in that lineup
> Yankeehaters takes 2011 MVP and perennial jerk A-Rod
> Mike goes with Crawford
> Allan steals the 2011 AL Cy Young award winner
> Ginger takes the last of the good shortstops
> RedRays is back in action and takes big bad Ryan Howard

Who’s the idiot that took two third basemen?

Round 4. The best hitter still available is a great guy for my utility spot. Trade bait? Perhaps.

Added bonus: Sam makes a panic move and takes Adrian Beltre with the next pick.

I did 40 mock drafts in preparation for this draft, and round 5 always was my nemesis.

Dan jumps on Heyward with the first pick of round 5. Here’s a fun fact that’s sure to drive Dan crazy:

Player A: .276 (464 at-bats), 85 runs, 23 home runs, 66 RBIs, 12 steals
Player B: .277 (520 at-bats), 83 runs, 18 home runs, 72 RBIs, 11 steals

Player B is Jason Heyward.
Player A is Colby Rasmus, taken in round 19 by yours truly.

I took Jacoby Ellsbury. It’s probably a bit of a reach, but he’s been tearing up the spring, and when he’s healthy he’s a top 5 fantasy outfielder. Please stay healthy Jacoby!

Holy crap, there’s a lot of great pitchers left!

Haren, Hanson, Liriano, Weaver, Buchholz, Grienke, Latos, Gallardo, Billingsley, Scherzer, Oswalt, Cahill, Beckett, Danks…

I sure am glad I waited on pitching. I scooped up Weaver, Gallardo, and Scherzer. I was psyched to get Scherzer. He was one guy that I was targeting. I think he has huge breakout potential this year.

Then he went out and gave up 12 runs in 2 1/3 innings the very next day. Swell.

There’s still a few hidden gems left, right?

RedRays and Allan take the Upton brothers in round 10. I love the Justin pick. B.J., not so much.

I finally take a catcher, really happy with Soto. Now that he’s Piniella-free I think we’ll see his resurgence.

For some odd reason, Sam takes Corey Hart. He’s on the DL! I think I’d rather have Corey Feldman.

Dan goes fat and skinny in rounds 10 and 11 with Ichiro and Kung Fu Panda. Ichiro slips every year for some odd reason. Solid pick. I’m still not sold on Sandoval, but Dan needs a third baseman and he was the fattest available. I think I would have gone with Aramis Ramirez, but good luck with that.

Some really interesting picks in round 12:

  • LBC takes Wandy Rodriguez, which could be a good value
  • I take the steal of the draft with Mike Stanton. He may strike out 200 times this year, but I’m counting on 40 home runs. It’s worth a little risk for a potential huge upside
  • BadBoys takes his his man crush with Aubrey Huff
  • I love Willis and Dan’s Billy Butler and Brandon Morrow picks
  • Francisco Cordero in this round was a horrible choice by Sam’s Baseball Train. There were much better options

It’s time to take the best of the mediocre pitchers!

Take a look at round 13. Every one of us picked a turd, with the exception of Allan and the Love Boat Captains. Jonathan O. Sanchez and Daniel Hudson are solid picks.

Dan and I picked Garza and Lackey. I usually like it when an AL pitcher goes to the inferior NL, but Garza is a head case that I think is going to wilt under the pressure of playing at Wrigley. I’m still not sure why I took Lackey. He was pretty awful last year.

Next, I take Alexei Ramirez, followed by Dan cursing me out via the chat, which only makes me like the pick that much more. The BadBoys grab Elvis Andrus. Dan responds by taking Marco Scutaro, and laughter is heard throughout thefoulline.com headquarters.

I was really happy getting C.J. Wilson in round 15. He’s the #1 pitcher on the American League Champions. He could be a steal.

I really liked round 16:

  • Matt Thornton and Chris Perez are two low-cost, high-quality closers picked by the LBCs and the Yankeehaters
  • Allan grabs this year’s Jason Heyward in Freddie Freeman
  • Willis takes a potential 30/30 guy in Drew Stubbs
  • And Dan takes Gordon Beckham, which gives him two second baseman. I don’t have the heart to tell him that he only needs one.

Is this draft ever going to end?

At this point, we’re at the two-hour mark and we’re all getting a little punch-drunk. Some interesting choices the rest of the way:

  • Rays Those Cowbells:  Joe Nathan, Manny Ramirez , Jordan Zimmermann, Jorge De La Rosa. I think this is a strong finish for young Dan.
  • chefdicks11:  Adam Jones, Edwin Jackson, Jake Peavy. I think this is the year Adam Jones lives up to the hype. The other two guys, you can keep.
  • WILLIS Be The Year: Wade Davis and Vladimir Guerrero are solid late-round choices.
  • bostobadboys: Adam Lind and Brian Matusz. Lind is a good hitter and will rebound this year, and Matusz is a future All Star.  Nice choices.
  • Sam’s Baseball Train: Hiroki Kuroda is a pretty good pick. His other picks at the end of this draft, pretty bad.
  • Yankeehaters: Kelly Johnson, Jhoulys Chacin, Colby Rasmus, Eric Bedard. Score, score, score, score. Once again, the Yankeehaters are playing chess, while everyone else is playing checkers.
  • UNsportsmanMike:  Aaron Hill, Jaime Garcia, Scott Baker. Nice finish. These three guys will help this team.
  • ToPpIn Da ChArTz: Grady Sizemore (insert punchline here), Carlos Quentin, AJ Burnett, Johnny Cueto, Rafael Furcal. I think Allan had a really good draft from top to bottom. He may be a  force this year.
  • Love Boat Captains:  Madison Bumgarner, Ricky Nolasco, Brett Cecil. These are the type of pitchers that the LBCs likes to gobble up only to have them pitch their asses off.
  • RedRays: Jeff Niemann, Aramis Ramirez, Fausto Carmona, Javier Vasquez, Travis Wood. I’m not sure why some of these guys were still available. RedRays has a solid history of drafting low-risk, high-reward guys.

I had a great time preparing for the draft. I’m happy with my results, and I can’t wait to get the season started. I know it’s early, but based on the draft here’s my predictions for the four playoff teams:

  • Love Boat Captains
  • ToPpIn Da ChArTz
  • Yankeehaters
  • WILLIS Be The Year

The Safety Dance

I was playing some disc golf with my buddy Kyle the other day, and we stumbled upon a collegiate baseball tournament that was being played on the adjacent fields. I came to find out that there are 25 baseball teams playing in a month-long tournament in Port Charlotte (Snowbird Baseball Classic on Florida’s Suncoast). After dominating Kyle in golf, we caught a few innings of Montclair State University vs. Carthage College. If you put a gun to my head I couldn’t tell you where these school are located, but I can tell you it was really enjoyable to watch. This just further proves what I always say… Any baseball is good baseball.

Enjoy thefoulline.com’s Quick Hits:

  • Manny Ramirez has 3 sons, all named Manny.
  • How is it possible that the frickin’ New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys conglomeration of suckiness is having a concert at Fenway Park this summer and Pearl Jam is not?
  • If I had the chance to spend a day talking baseball with any two people in the world, Don Zimmerman and Yogi Berra would definitely top the list.
  • If I had the chance to spend a day talking fantasy baseball with any two people in the world, Ginger and the Bostonbadboy would definitely top the list.
  • Big, bad, burly Dan Johnson’s walk up music is Men Without Hats, “The Safety Dance.” Odd choice.
  • I’m really looking forward to a season of ESPN baseball broadcasts without Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Joe Morgan is a pompous ass.
  • I just read that Chipper Jones is having a great spring and is swinging the bat better than he did in 2008. I expect to be reading in two weeks that Chipper Jones is on the DL with a hang nail.
  • I think the Baltimore Orioles have a chance to go 81-81. Their pitching isn’t quite there, but the lineup with Vlad, Markakis, Mark Reynolds, Luke Scott, Brian Roberts, and Matt Wieters should be fun to watch.
  • Quick! Not counting Fausto Carmona, Grady Sizemore, and Carlos Santana, name three players on the Cleveland Indians. (Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner were all I could come up with.) I think the Royals may have some competition for worst team in baseball.
  • I’m not sold that Josh Beckett is going to have the great resurgence that a lot of fantasy experts are projecting.
  • I’m predicting that Jonathan Papelbon will be the Baltimore Orioles closer in 2011.
  • Dear Seattle Mariner ownership: Please do not trade King Felix to the Yankees regardless of who they offer you. He’s your franchise guy. Build around him!
  • Has anyone seen Unsportsman Mike? I don’t want to hear any more lame excuses about an auto-drafted team this year. He had a three-week notice.
  • I’m hoping for the 4th-6th pick in this years draft. Not a fan of the bookend position.

12 days.

I Hate Everything About You

I had a great week. I was fortunate enough to go to three spring training games, filled with youngsters trying to make the team and superstar players doing their thing.

Unfortunately, there are also a few jerks that linger on the baseball diamond. On the heels of writing thefoulline.com All-Pro Team of Awesomeness, I thought I’d mix it up, and come up with thefoulline.com’s All-Pro Team of Jerkiness.

And here it is.

  • Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski
    Even his own teammates don’t like him.
  • First Base: Mark Teixeira
    I’m not resentful that he spurned the Red Sox so that he could get an extra $10 million from the stupid Yankees. I just really want to punch him in his huge, ugly face whenever I see him. I accidentally drafted this d-bag in a recent mock draft. I immediately shut the computer off, my draft/day ruined.
  • Second Base: Ian Kinsler
    Has a well known feud with the far superior Dustin Pedroia. Injury prone. Needs to find a pair of baseball pants that fit him.
  • Shortstop: Stephen Drew
    J.D.’s brother… that’s enough for me.
  • Third Base: Alex Rodriguez
    Cameron Diaz fed him popcorn on national television. I’d like to feed him a knuckle sandwich. A-Fraud is captain of my d-bag team.
  • Outfield: B.J. Upton
    Million-dollar talent, 10-cent brain. If this guy ever decided to give a damn, he’d be unstoppable.
  • Outfield: Jonny Gomes
    This d-bag loves to be the third man in on someone else’s fight. Dylan and I were at a Rays game a few years ago. Gomes was playing left field (lousily I might add). We kept calling him a lard ass with a crappy arm. I’ll swear to this day that I saw a glint of a tear in his eyes. This rager is a token tough guy.
  • Outfield: Alfonso Soriano
    Easily the worst defender in baseball, makes Johnny Damon look like Roberto Clemente in his prime.  $136 million over 8 years! Really?
  • Designated Hitter: Miguel Cabrera
    I don’t care if Miggy hits 80 home runs and bats .400 this season. His decision to drive drunk and act like an idiot is inexcusable. You make $19 million a year. Hire a driver, jackass.
  • Pitcher: Tim Lincecum
    Ok, we get it. Your dad used to put a dollar bill on the ground when you were pitching to make sure you were following through… Enough of this stupid commercial. This pot smoker really needs a haircut.
    Although I do like that he tanked it down the stretch last year, ultimately foiling Dan’s season.
  • Pitcher: Matt Garza
    Spit… spit… spit… spit… spit… Garza is a big-game pitcher… spit… spit… spit… spit… has some really stupid facial hair… spit… spit… spit… and is the grossest man in baseball.
  • James Shields takes a swing at Coco Crisp
  • Pitcher: James Shields
    If you’re going to incite a baseball brawl against the smallest guy on the other team, can you at least look at what you’re swinging at?
    15 losses with a 5.18 ERA in 2010. I think we can officially lose the “Big Game James” moniker.
  • Pitcher: Carlos Zambrano
    Fighting teammates, throwing temper tantrums, going -24 in the first week of fantasy baseball — it’s the triumvirate or douchiness.
  • Pitcher: Daisuke Matsuzaka
    I can give you 100 million reasons that he’s on this list. My biggest problem is that Dice-K went 18-3 during his rookie season, then stopped throwing fastballs and started trying to nibble the corners with bad off-speed stuff. He’s chronically slow on the mound and causes his games to drag on forever. I’d rather watch a Lifetime movie marathon than watch Dice-K throw 110 pitches in 4 innings.
  • Closer: Francisco Rodriguez
    This class act berated his girlfriend and then pummeled her dad after his manager didn’t let him pitch in a game. And he looks stupid in his prescription pitching goggles.
  • Coach: John Rocker
    Racist. Redneck. Homophobe. Jerk. Remember?

There are 750 baseball players on Major League rosters. There’s bound to be a few bad apples in there.

Baseball is still the best sport in the world.

18 days.

You’re My Favorite

After spending a great day at the ballpark with my family, surrounded by really nice people, great weather and ballplayers busting their butts, I’m reminded of what a great game baseball is to watch.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called The Best of What’s Around. The post listed a team of players that I really enjoyed watching. Guys that played hard, weren’t jerks, and had a little personality. After today’s game, I’m inspired to write another one.

Once again, these guys aren’t the best players, but they’re all guys that I enjoy watching play the great game of baseball.

  • Catcher: Victor Martinez
    I like that he hits .300 and that he’s good for 20+ home runs a year. I love that he individualizes a different handshake for all 25 members of his team.
  • First Base: Prince Fielder
    Fat guys are jolly. And he’s the only 300-pound vegetarian in the world.
  • Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
    This is a no-brainer. He plays hard, he’s a smart-ass, and he’s my favorite player. Man-crush? That’s none of your damn business!
  • Third Base: Kevin Youkilis
    Sure, he looks like Yukon Cornelius, perspires like someone dumped a bucket of water on him, and has the weirdest batting stance in the league. I like that he gets super pissed
    like it’s game 7 of the World Series every time he makes an out. He’s a gamer.
  • Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki
    I’m really not crazy about any of the shortstops in the league. Tulo rakes, but he has the tendency to get hurt every season. I figured I’d include him to show my support for my Polish readers. Plus, he grew a mullet for charity last season, which is awesome.
  • Outfield: Nick Swisher
    Ok, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, I know he’s a Yankee. But Swisher seems like a really good dude. He has his own charity called Swish’s Wishes that helps out sick kids, and another that supports our U.S troops overseas. He’s a damn Yankee, but he’s ok in my book.
  • Outfield: Curtis Granderson
    Yup, another Yankee. This guy is fun to watch. My wife nicknamed him “Crazy Legs,” because when he sprints around the bases his legs are flailing around like a newborn giraffe learning how to run. Plus. this guy always has a smile on his face. If I played for the heartless, soul-sucking New York Yankees, I’d be pissed. But to each his own, I guess.
  • Outfield: Ryan Braun
    The Hebrew Hammer is the best outfielder on the planet and just too good to pass over on my team.
  • Pitcher: Ryan Dempster
    Solid pitcher. Does a great impersonation of Harry Caray. Provides the comic relief on my team.
  • Pitcher: David Price
    Signs more autographs at the Rays spring training practices than any other player. Plus, a friend of mine ran into him at a crappy Port Charlotte eatery and confirmed that he’s a good guy.
  • Pitcher: Ted Lilly
    His middle name is Roosevelt! Theodore Roosevelt Lilly. It’s the greatest name in baseball. Little guy, huge name.
  • Pitcher: Jon Lester
    The silent assassin. I like that this guy doesn’t say five words during the entire season. He just goes out and wins. I really like that he’s going to win the Cy Young award this year.
  • Pitcher: Cole Hamels
    There’s nothing that he does in particular that I love, except crushing the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. And that’s enough.
  • Closer: Brian Wilson
    Without a doubt,  this New Hampshirite is the craziest guy in all of baseball. I fear the beard… big time!
  • Manager: Earl Weaver
    This guy was Bobby Cox before Bobby Cox was. Weaver was once thrown out of a game while exchanging lineup cards at home plate. This team needs a fiery leader, and this guy is downright nuclear. And I went to a Baltimore Orioles game today, so he’s in.

This is the team of favorites I came up with. Good all-around guys. Of course, no team is complete without a few good bench players. Who should we add to the team?

Simply the Best

Basketball is boring, the NHL has too many foreign players whose names I can’t pronounce, and the NFL may not be around for a 2011 season. And that is why Major League Baseball is the best of the professional sports. 30 teams, all with a chance to win the World Series. 162 games that matter. Fresh-cut grass. Cold beer. Keeping score… and oh yeah, fantasy baseball.

Quick Hits:

  • I can’t believe that I made a “don’t draft” list and didn’t include Grady Sizemore. I hate that bastard, and his one good knee.
  • It’s nice to see the Chicago Cubs in mid-season form. It’s the first week of games and they’re already fighting each other in the dugout.
  • Carl Crawford’s batting average has soared to .167  after collecting two hits today. The flood gates are officially open.
  • Speaking of mid-season form, Dice K gave up 7 runs in today’s game. That’s $100 million well spent.
  • I want to see a race between Jacoby Ellsbury & Carl Crawford. The loser has to bat lead-off.
  • I just scored two tickets for the Rays-Red Sox game this week, 5th row behind home plate. This spring is shaping up nicely.
  • After watching the aging Yankees last night, Robinson Cano is their only player that scares me. That guy is stupid good. He’s the best second baseman in the league… By a lot!
  • Just when you think a player is a total scumbag, he runs into your daughter’s first grade teacher and her son at Publix, poses for pictures, and gives the kid an autographed bat… I guess that’s just Manny being Manny. Classy move.
  • I’m really happy to see that our league has 10 teams signed up, although I’m not sure what a “bostobadboy” is.
  • Dont sleep on the Atlanta Braves this year. If one of their Billy Wagner replacements pitches well, watch out.
  • I actually traded Hanley Ramirez and David Price for Ryan Howard and a scrub pitcher last year. How’d I make the playoffs?
  • If you want a good laugh, YouTube Dustin Pedroia and watch any interview he does. The guy is a character.
  • Is Buster Posey the first catcher taken in the draft?
  • Can’t wait for Opening Day. Although I’m dreading that I have to listen to Dewayne Staats call Rays games.
  • Fact:  3 weeks until draft time, and two-time defending fantasy baseball champion Love Boat Captains has yet to research the first player or do a mock draft. Why am I still scared?

I’m So Excited

I have never been more excited for a baseball season to begin.

After suffering through a tumultuous 2010 season, filled with injuries and unfulfilled expectations, the offseason for the Boston Red Sox has been just what the doctor ordered. Boston made the two biggest splashes of the year by trading their top prospects for Adrian Gonzalez and his perfectly-suited-for-Fenway Park swing, and signing Red Sox-killer Carl Crawford to a ridiculous 7-year contract.

I absolutely love the additions. These are two high-character hard workers that make Boston a lot more exciting. The reality about the 2010 Sox was that they were a bit boring to watch. Players grinding out at bats is productive, but I want to see the shock and awe of Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury stealing bases, coupled with Gonzalez, Youkilis and Big Papi knocking bombs.

I couldn’t care less that Boston is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars in player salaries. I just bought a Red Sox hat that cost 35 bucks, and I’m happy to see the Boston owners putting it back into the team. And I don’t buy that they’re starting to resemble the Yankees, who think they can buy a World Series. Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester, Buchholz, and Ellsbury are all homegrown and are still the heart of this team.

There has been a ton of speculation on what the new and improved batting order is going to be. Is Ellsbury leading off? Is the lineup too left handed? Where should Crawford hit? What a great problem to have. They could put all nine names into a hat and pull them out in any order and still win 90 games. David Ortiz is leading off? Whatever.

Of course, Terry Francona is a lot smarter than I am, and he has a ton of lineup options depending on the opposing pitcher. But, if it were up to me, here’s what I’d do.

  1. Ellsbury
  2. Pedroia
  3. Crawford
  4. Gonzalez
  5. Youkilis
  6. Ortiz
  7. Drew
  8. Saltalamacchia
  9. Scutaro

I’ll put this lineup up against anyone. Patience, speed, and power throughout. Is this a 95+ wins team positioned for a playoff run? As long as they stay healthy, I’m pretty confident that it is.

The 2011 baseball season starts in 30 days… I guess we’ll start answering some of these questions then.