First Among Equals

Holy cow, that was a long first week of fantasy baseball! I think we can all agree that a seven-day game week is preferable to the 11-day marathon. Congrats to the teams that won. Good luck this week!

Quick Hits

  • Trades in fantasy baseball are a crazy thing. Sometimes there are obvious winners and losers. Other times times one team gets absolutely crushed. An example of this would be yours truly trading Alex Rodriguez and C.J. Wilson for Cole Hamels and Justin Upton. I drafted A-Rod in the 4th round of our draft, and I was happy with the pick. I think he’s going to have a monster season. But every time I saw him up to bat, I was wishing that he would take a fastball in his earhole. I think it’s important to have a fantasy team made up of players that are not only good but also fun to watch. I think Hamels and J. Upton  are two of those guys. A-Rod never will be.
  • The Yankeehaters were getting crushed this week. I traded A-Rod and my team’s performance turned around the next day. Karma? Perhaps. Either way — good riddance.
  • The 8th inning experiment with star closer Rafael Soriano is not going well. Some guys are just meant to pitch in the 9th inning. Oh well, it’s only $35 million.
  • B.J. Upton’s real name is Melvin.
  • There’s an appendicitis epidemic sweeping through baseball. I’m going to have mine prematurely removed so it doesn’t potentially affect my playoff run in fantasy baseball.
  • Manny Ramirez is a total scumbag. Joe Maddon and the Rays players supported him 100%. Manny repays this support by lying to them and then getting busted using steroids for the second time. Good riddance.
  • Sam Fuld makes a great defensive play every game.
  • The LBCs have been snakebit in the first week of our season. Don’t write her off quite yet. She’ll still make the playoffs.
  • Thanks Chefdick for dropping Edwin Jackson. He’s looking great so far.
  • The once-proud Cleveland Indians fan base was totally absent in the series against the Red Sox.  There was an average attendance of about 5000 fans per game. Didn’t they used to own the consecutive sellout streak?
  • Scoring the second most points in the league and losing is one of the frustrations of playing in a head-to-head league. Sorry, Chefdick.
  • Jered Weaver: 3 games, 3 wins, 9 hits allowed, 85.5 points. Wow!

The Foul Line Fantasy Baseball Power Rankings

  1. Yankeehaters: 541 points! I think that might be a world record
  2. chefdicks11: Some tough injuries down the stretch hurt. Playing the Yankeehaters hurt even more.
  3. RedRays: Put up a ton of points and crushed the two-time defending champ.
  4. bostobadboys: If Josh Beckett continues his great pitching, the BBB will be tough all year long.
  5. Rays Those Cowbells: Dan made some great trades this week. I anticipate RTC climbing up the rankings this week.
  6. Sam’s Baseball Train: Solid from top to bottom. Sam is going to win more than he loses this year.
  7. Love Boat Captains: This week was a fluke. Her team is better than their week-1 performance.
  8. WILLIS Be The Year: Pitching is pretty awful. If he addresses that, he could bounce back. He’s still 1-0.
  9. ToPpIn Da ChArTz: Losing Longoria was a big reason he lost this week. I look forward to A-Rod getting injured on your team this year.
  10. UNsportsmanMike: 295.5 points in an 11-day week? Really?

Go Sox!

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.

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?

Let’s Get It Started

My favorite time of the year is finally here.

As much as I love the real sport of baseball, there’s something about playing in a fantasy baseball league that really gets my juices flowing. Maybe it’s the spirit of competition, as ten team owners vie for the league title. Maybe it’s following every team in baseball, keeping track of “your” players, instead of just the ones on your favorite team. Or maybe it’s the six months of constant trash talking, or working out blockbuster deals with your family members over dinner. Perhaps it’s the chance for regular people to play General Manager, making trades, scouring the waiver wire, looking for the next hot player. For me, it’s all of those things.

So let’s get it started. These are a few questions I have going into the 2009 fantasy season.

  • Is A-Rod still worthy of a top-5 pick, or will the Un-Natural wilt under the extreme pressure of the steroid scandal?
  • Which round do you start looking at Manny Ramirez? If he had been signed a month ago, I would say 2nd or 3rd, but the longer these negotiations drag on, the more uninspired Manny will get. We all know how Manny reacts to being “disrespected.”
  • Will Big Papi rebound from his disappointing 2008 season?
  • Who will be the first pitcher drafted? Johan? Lincecum? CC?
  • Is Dan the #1 Rays Fan too scared to join our league?
  • Will Matt McLaughlin attempt to draft a team entirely of Red Sox and Twins players?
  • Can we finally put to rest the “I could’ve won if I hadn’t lost my password” excuse? (That means you, Boston badboys.)
  • Will anyone trade with Team Yankeehater?
  • Will Dylan attempt to draft Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount to add to his stable of shortstops?
  • Can the Love Boat Captains continue her impressive run, or has that ship sailed?
  • Will Dave McLaughlin finally acknowledge that he got lucky in the 2008 finals?
  • Is Dan Mc a closet Yankee fan? With a team name like Fran-comas, I’m starting to wonder.

So it begins, boys and girl. I don’t care which team you play for. I don’t care if you sucker-punched Coco Crisp last year or if you’re dating Madonna. This year I’m pulling out all the stops to grab the title of TheFoulLine.com Fantasy Baseball Champion.

Only three spots in the league remain. Sign up now!!!!

Start Me Up

Baseball season is finally back, and although the offseason for the Boston Red Sox didn’t go the way I’d hope it would, I’m still optimistic for a successful 2009 campaign.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that Theo Epstein and Terry Francona don’t read thefoulline.com. If they had, we’d be watching Mark Texiera and Derek Lowe gearing up for the season in Fort Myers, while watching the enigmatic Julio Lugo and overrated Jason Varitek packing their bags to destination Anywhere But Boston.

But after my initial disappointment with the lack of big name signings, I’m starting to really like the additions of Brad Penny, Takashi Saito and especially future Hall of Famer John Smoltz. These guys are low cost, with potential huge rewards for Boston. Even though Smoltz won’t be ready until June, he could be the big addition to the lineup that usually takes place at the trade deadline. If Boston makes the postseason, a lineup with Josh Beckett and John Smoltz would be scary.

Before we can talk about the playoffs, there are a lot of questions about this team that could severely affect their post season chances. Will Josh Beckett, David Ortiz, and Mike Lowell rebound from their 2008 injury-plagued season? With Coco Crisp shipped off to Kansas City, is Jacoby Ellsbury ready to be the everyday centerfielder and leadoff hitter? Can a full season of Jason Bay make up for the loss of Manny? Who will be the Red Sox catcher of the future?

To make matters worse, rivals Tampa Bay and New York revamped their already dangerous lineups. The Yankees decided to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on big-game choker CC Sabathia, the oft-injured A.J. Burnett, and current thefoulline.com public enemy #2 Mark Texiera. Will this high priced talent lead to a return to the postseason for the Bronx Bombers? Or will these guys wilt under the pressure of playing in the Big Apple like Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano? Let’s hope for the latter.

As for the Rays, I really like the additions of Pat Burrell and Matt Joyce to fill the right field and designated hitter spots. This is a big upgrade of the Gabe Gross/Cliff Floyd combo. I’m interested in seeing whether Evan Longoria can duplicate his rookie season, and if the Rays can repeat their success with their closer-by-committee bullpen.

The good news is baseball is back.
The competition  for the AL East crown promises to be fierce.
Let the games begin!

Bye Bye Bye

Selling the Drama

I didn’t think Theo Epstein had it in him. I was confident that the Boston Red Sox were just going through the motions of trying to trade Manny Ramirez. I thought that all of the trade talk this past week was designed to show Manny that the Sox tried to grant his wish for a trade, but due to Manny’s bad attitude no one wanted him. I thought that this would be the motivation that Manny needed to put up monster numbers the next two months of the season and ensure the giant free agent contract that he so desired.

I guess I was wrong.

Goodbye, Manny. Hello, Jason Bay!

Why trade arguably the greatest right handed hitter in Major League history? For starters, Manny has always been about Manny. He doesn’t care about the game of baseball. He doesn’t care about the fans, and he sure as hell doesn’t give a crap about his teammates. If he did he wouldn’t have put himself in this situation.

Boston has always been a blue-collar, hard working city that prides itself on supporting a baseball team that always plays hard and gives 100%. That’s why guys like Trot Nixon, Gabe Kapler and Dustin Pedroia are fan favorites. The fans put up with Manny’s laissez-faire attitude as long as we could, but eventually his act grew tired.

Manny was set up to be the sixth Red Sox player to have his number retired at Fenway Park. He was going to be the guy would tell our grandchildren about, the same way we heard stories about Ted Williams. Manny was that good.

But that wasn’t enough for Manny.

Manny thrived in the spotlight, and if it wasn’t shining on him, another version of Manny would appear. The Manny that pouted and pulled himself from the lineup. The Manny that would never play through the same pain that each and every one of his teammates were playing through during the course of a long season.
The Manny that called out management and quit on teammates.

Don’t think for a second that dealing Manny across the country is going to change anything. He’s still going to be the guy that doesn’t run out ground balls and flops around the outfield. How will Manny’s defense be now that he’s actually going to have to cover some ground, without a 37-foot-tall security blanket right behind him? How will Manny’s numbers be affected going from an offensive paradise at Fenway to the land of the long fly-ball out?

These questions are going to be answered sooner rather than later. Manny can now be Manny, for as long as he wants to.

I’m just glad I don’t have to watch it anymore.

New York State of Mind

Don’t look now, but the New York Yankees have climbed to within three games of the AL East co-leaders Sox and Rays and are in Boston for a three-game set at Fenway Park that starts tonight. Like a bad case of athlete’s foot, New York refuses to go away. These guys have been decimated this season with injuries to Chien-Ming Wang, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Add to that the disappointing pitching from Ian Kennedy and Philip Hughes, plus the media circus of the A-Rod/Madonna/Cynthia Rodriguez/Lenny Kravitz Quadangle, and it is a miracle that these guys are still in contention. What is Hank Steinbrenner pumping through the air conditioning ducts to keep these guys motivated?

I’m not sure that the Yankees have enough pitching to make a long run at the playoffs, but you can be certain that Hank Steinbrenner will mortgage the future at next week’s trade deadline to at least make it interesting.

Objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits

  • I don’t know what Joba Chamberlain’s problem with Kevin Youkilis is, but if he hits Youk again tonight, I hope he gets his face smashed in with a Louisville Slugger.
  • You can tell that autumn is here when the leaves change color, and you can tell it’s almost August when Manny Ramirez starts faking another injury. This season it’s his sore knee. It never fails.
  • The attendance at Tropicana Field for the last two games for the Rays was about 12,000 and 16,000. That equates to 30.1% and 40% of total capacity. I know that it’s not the temperature in Florida that’s keeping them away. It’s always fair-weathered in the dome.
  • Big Papi David Ortiz rejoins the Sox tonight after a long layoff. This might be the big move at the trade deadline that everyone has been hoping for.
  • Speaking of the trading deadline… I really hope that Boston deals Manny to the Mets for prospects, takes those prospects and adds a top-line Red Sox prospect to the mix, and makes a deal for Matt Holliday. He would make people forget about Manny pretty damn quick.
  • Playoff atmosphere at Fenway tonight, and there is no one better to have on the mound than the best big game pitcher in baseball, Josh Beckett.

Go Sox!

Makes Me Wonder

The three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins was exactly what the Boston Red Sox needed. The Sox have been going through the motions lately, getting little to no production from Manny, Lugo, Ellsbury, and Varitek. Even Jonathan Papelbon has been getting hit. These guys had looked like a shell of their former selves.

During this series with Minnesota, Boston won the first game 1-0. They rallied back from a three-run deficit to win the second game, and they had the blowout in the third game to cap the sweep. I know that one good series doesn’t make a season, but this could be a turning point for the Sox. They beat a very good team three times, in three very different ways. Boston is finally getting healthy, and this could be when we see the real Red Sox show up.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits:

  • Boston is 34-10 playing at Fenway and 21-29 on the road. Home field is going to be more important than ever this postseason.
  • Some guy named Clay Buchholz is starting for Boston Friday night. I hope that he can do as well as some of the other young pitchers the Red Sox have used this year.
  • Congrats to Evan Longoria for making the All Star team. It’s well deserved and is sure to be the first of many during his career.
  • Speaking of the All Star game… Imagine, if you will, the 9th inning, the AL up by one run. Francona goes to the bullpen, the last All Star game in Yankee Stadium… and out comes Jonathan Papelbon. It won’t happen. But it would be awesome to stick it to the entire state of New York.
  • Dustin Pedroia needs to be in the running for the MVP of the league.
  • Vernon Wells of the Toronto Blue Jays is injured again and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. It’s time for Toronto to concede the season and look towards next year.
  • After dropping three in a row, and losing 13-2 to Cleveland as I write this, you know that the Rays are counting the minutes to the All Star break so they can regroup. This is just a bump in the road. They’ll be competitive all year long.
  • Is A-Rod dating Madonna really newsworthy? Would this even be in the paper if the Yankees were relevant?

Here Comes the Sun

The sun did rise today.

The birds are singing, and things seem to be OK.

After watching the Red Sox get out-hit, out-pitched, outplayed and out-cheered the last three nights, I wasn’t so sure that was going to happen. But here we are – it’s a new day and we have the damn Yankees to focus on.

There’s a lot of baseball left to played. Let’s turn this thing around.

Thefoulline.com quick hits

  • After receiving threats in the mail a few days ago, Sox players avoided fans in the stands like they had the ebola virus (with David Aardsma being the exception, but I think he may have a few screws loose anyway).
  • Walking into the game last night and seeing ex-Sox player Bill Lee in attendance signing autographs I thought was going to be a good omen. It wasn’t.
  • Evan Longoria is a great ballplayer, but after watching him interact with the young fans in the crowd, I think he is an even better person. Within two years, this guy is going to be the most popular player in baseball.
  • With Terry Francona picking the reserves for the All-Star Game, I think Longoria just secured a spot on the roster.
  • Funny observation of the night: The Red Sox coaches warm up as if they are playing that night. I watched as Brad Mills and Luis Alicea played some long toss before the game. After watching the Sox bullpen implode last night, they could have used them.
  • Three games, three dumb moves by Francona. Game 1: Not pinch hitting Sean Casey for Lugo in the 9th inning. Game 2: Having the ice-cold Jason Varitek pinch hit. Game 3: Keeping Craig Hansen in the game too long and having him walk half the Rays lineup.
  • Bonus dumb move from Game 3: Having the above mentioned Varitek do a hit and run with the slowest guy on the team standing on first base. It was a recipe for failure.
  • Manny sucks.
  • What a relief, Boston has four games against the Yankees.
  • 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay Rays feels like 100 right now.
  • Thanks to the Rays fan who jump started my truck in the parking lot after the game. I take back some of the bad stuff I’ve said about their kind in the past.