Notes: November 14, 2008

This is a fascinating time of year for me.  Not that there aren’t a lot of those times of year, but I especially love the fall season.  College football is always compelling in November because of the BCS circus.  I’m actually still competitive in all of my fantasy football leagues, which is a welcome change from years’ past.  College basketball is ramping up, and there will be good matchups to watch before we know it.  Free agency and all the Braves-related trade talk has kept MLB interesting to me in November, but that’s probably caused by the Braves’ lack of recent success and a tendency to look toward the future.  Honestly, I’m paying more attention to them now than I was in August when there were actual games to watch.

In the non-sporting world, it’s also a beautiful time to live and work in North Georgia and East Tennessee.  Melissa and I drive to Blue Ridge, GA once every fall to visit the Mercier apple orchard, and the fall colors we get to see along the way are always beautiful.  Because of the approaching holidays, there’s always a lot going on in November, too. So here’s a little taste of what’s going on:

  • Melissa and I were blessed with the arrival of a third cat on Tuesday, so we’re now outnumbered by the animals in our household.  Hopefully they’re not planning a coup anytime soon.  Our new cat, Jasper, was abandoned at the house of one of Melissa’s coworkers.  We know this because her coworker has a lot of pets and probably has gained a reputation for finding new homes for animals.  She also lives far enough out in the country that it left little doubt that this cat had been intentionally abandoned, rather than simply having lost its way.  Since this family had reached its quota of animals, we agreed to take on another cat.
  • Introducing a cat to a house that already has two cats is proving to be somewhat difficult.  Our youngest, Bender, is skittish around people (even us), and he has mostly kept his distance from Jasper.  Racer, the oldest, is clearly the alpha male, and he has made things somewhat uncomfortable for Jasper in his new home.  We think Racer just wants to play, but Jasper gets so scared of him that he starts hissing when Racer comes close.  That will have to stop if we’re going to keep Jasper long-term.  He’s a sweet cat who loves constant attention (he won’t budge when he gets up on your lap), so we know he’d be a good fit for an elderly person who doesn’t already have a pet.  For now, we’re committed to getting him acclimated to our house, and we keep him apart from Racer and Bender while we’re away at work.
  • The Tennessee football program has ceased to exist as a functioning being.  I’m 100% behind any effort to lure Mike Leach away from Texas Tech, just to go on the record for that.
  • I liked this paragraph I read about what Tennessee has to compete for in the coming weeks: “Well, there are ways to stay relevant, even at 3-6 with a lame-duck coach. One is losing to Wyoming. Other possibilities? Being Vanderbilt’s bowl-clinching, history-making, streak-breaking sixth win. Having the nation’s longest streak of ownage broken on your home field on the day to honor a coaching legend. Hello, 3-9…”
  • So what about the Braves’ quest to land Jake Peavy?  I think he’s a tad riskier than most front-line starters health-wise, but there are also very few starters who have his ability.  He’s not going to be a 220-inning workhorse like C.C. Sabathia, and he may be the next Brave to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery, but I wouldn’t exactly be disappointed to see him in a Braves uniform next year.
  • The only problem with such a trade might be the package of players that the Braves are rumored to be offering, which would include Yunel Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes, and Blaine Boyer or another low-level pitching prospect.  Escobar is a whiz at a premium defensive position, so he has tremendous value even if his 2008 line (.288/.366/.401) represents his true hitting ability.  I’m starting to doubt that Brent Lillibridge would be capable of replacing him, so a trade of Escobar opens up another hole that will need to be filled.  Hernandez has a pretty good reputation among the Braves’ prospects, but at least they’re not rumored to be including Tommy Hanson or Jason Heyward at this point.  Neither Morton nor Reyes seems to have put things together yet, but either one certainly could.  Boyer was pretty much abused this year, and even if he could be a good reliever in time, I wouldn’t be sad to see him go.  Perhaps that’s a fair package for five years of control over Peavy (who has four years and at least $63M left on his two existing contracts, with an additional $18M net club option for 2013, after you consider the option-year buyout), but only if he stays healthy.  Overall, I would like to see the Braves push for contention in 2010 rather than patch holes to compete in 2009, so hopefully this would only be the first of a series of moves toward that end.  Rumor has it that they’ll pursue Rafael Furcal if they trade Escobar, but that seems like even more of a “win now” move than acquiring Peavy.
  • The first regular season Harding basketball game is tomorrow night at Missouri S&T (formerly Missouri-Rolla) at 6:30 CT.  S&T was dreadful last year and has been picked last in its division by Great Lakes Valley Conference coaches.  Even though this is an out-of-region D-II game, it can’t hurt to start with a win.
  • In other Bison news, the basketball team got a rare early signee this week with 6’6″ HS senior Jordan Layrock’s commitment.  As a junior, he averaged 18 points and 11 boards for Poyen High, which competes in the AHSAA’s lowest classification.
  • And in sad Bison news, the most famous former Harding athlete, Preacher Roe, has died at age 92.  Luke had a good write-up earlier this week, and I don’t have a lot to add.  Roe was a unique player, not really making a splash until age 29 but still managing a very solid career.  His 116 ERA+ ranks just outside the top 100 since 1901.  Roe got national attention at Harding when he struck out 26 batters in an extra-inning game, and the attention clearly was not unwarranted.  I’m not aware of any other Harding alums who have played in the major leagues, but we could do worse for having just one player.  Preacher was a great one.
Anything else I should be talking about?

Schedule for the week of August 25, 2008

Monday: Melissa’s birthday, no posts
Tuesday night: 2008 fantasy football draft #1 (possible later post)
Tuesday Wednesday: Braves Check: Is Anybody Still Watching? Edition (I didn’t think about the fact that my draft Tuesday night would get in the way of posting.  I’ll try to have this up Wednesday and not go another week without posting some actual content.)
Later in the week: Thoughts on Joe Biden, the Democratic Convention, and the Democratic ticket overall
Saturday: 2008 fantasy football draft #2

Today is my wife’s birthday, and part of her present is that I won’t spend tonight working on a blog post or my upcoming fantasy football drafts.  I would tell her she’s an old fogey today, but I’m the one who’s hair is already starting to gray, so she won’t be hearing that from me.  Not after this post, at least.

This will also be a busy week at work, and I’ll be away from the computer a lot.  This time of year, I’m out in the plant more often than not, and we also have 1-2 other big things going on.  I may forgo posting about my fantasy team under the “no one else cares” rule, but there’s a strong chance that I may be too excited not to post.

Tuesday night’s draft is the inaugural draft of a new keeper league I’ve joined with 10 guys who live in my neighborhood, and it’s actually a pretty interesting format: a 5-round auction with a serpentine draft for the remaining 18 rounds.  The keeper rules are not restrictive at all; you get 9 keepers each year, and there are basically no other rules, so it’s a fairly long-term focus.  My other league’s rules are such that 99% of players are not worth keeping for more than two years, so it’s more of a short-term focus.

Hopefully I can also arrange some thoughts this week about the Democratic ticket, since I hear there’s some sort of convention going on right now.  I haven’t been posting much about politics over the summer, but my perspective hasn’t changed much.

The rest of the week begins now.

Weekly Notes: December 21, 2007

It’s been a light week around here with no basketball games. If you’ll let me extend the definition of a light posting week to “nothing since Monday morning.” So, I have a few notes:

  • I saw I Am Legend last night. I had fairly high expectations, as I seem to for basically every Will Smith movie (especially since Hitch). It was slightly disappointing for me in a similar way to The Pursuit of Happyness, because it was another great acting job by Smith in a movie that just didn’t have enough substance to really grab hold of me. The story was decent, but the movie ended somewhat abruptly, just as it was starting to get good. Before I spoil the plot, I suppose I’d better stop.
  • President Bush wished reporters “Happy Holidays” the other day, and frankly, I was offended. I mean, is he trying to kill Christmas or something? He’s just as bad as the other “secular-progressives” who hate Christians…
    …Seriously, I’m not sure if he just wasn’t thinking about what he said, or if it was a conscious effort to distance himself from the wingnuts who made up the ridiculous “War on Christmas” to appeal to the religious right. That’s the right wing, though: libertarian on issues like fighting poverty, but alarmingly ready to legislate frivolous social policies. Now, back to your regular de-politicized notes.
  • Duke lost its first game of the season last night to a strong Pittsburgh team, but they remained #2 in the Pomeroy ratings. I like this year’s Duke team: even without McRoberts, they’re very athletic and tough defensively, and I think they’re better positioned for a strong ACC run. Pomeroy’s stats still probably don’t mean a whole lot at this point in the season, but I am encouraged that Duke has already beaten #4 (Wisconsin) and #6 (Marquette) in those ratings, despite the loss to #8 Pitt.
  • My fantasy season came to an end on Brian Westbrook’s heady play that ended the Eagles’ win over the Cowboys, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. It was still a cool play, though, and smart football is always more fun to watch than the alternative. A day or two later, I was nearly the beneficiary of an opponent’s failure to make that decision in an NCAA 08 game, as I scored on the ensuing drive and recovered an onside kick, falling just short at the end.
  • Every man needs a name to go by if he makes the Brazilian soccer team. John Wright = “Wrincha.”
    Sammy Sosa = “Sosito”
    Jed Bartlet = “Bartlinho”
    Barack Obama = “Obamiano”
    Matt Hall = “Himo Santos”
    Mark Teixeira = “Teixeiraldo”
    “Barnett brings it down the floor on the fast break, lobs it up there…GOOOOAAAALLLL!!! Himo Santos!!!!” I think I could play with this for hours.
  • Mark Cuban has too many Facebook friends. I didn’t even know that was possible.

I probably won’t have anything else until after Christmas, although I am planning to update GSC stats over the weekend.  Have a great long weekend.

I know no one cares, but…

I know I keep violating all the rules of sports blogging by posting about my fantasy teams, but in case anyone does actually care, I’m putting up a page for them.

I drafted two more teams this weekend (CBSSports.com Silver, if anyone’s familiar with that format), and I’m pretty happy with both of them.  One of them, where I drafted fifth and got my second-best overall player (Frank Gore) and three of my top 7 receivers, made me particularly happy.  I drafted 10th (of 12) in the other league and ended up with a high-risk/high-reward QB (McNabb), a couple of solid backs (Maroney and McGahee), and a few other guys I like from my other team.

The fantasy sports page will be the home of my teams from here on out, unless I have a particular tidbit that seems worth sharing on the main page.

For now, I will share my predicted points per game for the teams in each league that I drafted this weekend, based on my projections.  My team is on top in both leagues, but you can see that the margin is slim in the league where I drafted 10th.  I wasn’t happy about that slot, and the other owners were good enough not to let someone like Brian Westbrook fall to me there.  The numbers in parentheses are (division/draft slot), with three divisions in each league.  The division winners plus one wild card will make the playoffs.

League one:

1. Coach’s Challengers (1/10) – 95.6

2. Scaly Men-Fish (2/6) – 94.0

3. Trips1 (3/5) – 87.9

4. Junkyard (3/3) – 86.6

5. Hanablasters (3/2) – 86.4

6. Gridiron Gods (2/7) – 82.4

7. Hitmen3 (1/8) – 82.32

8. Ballome (1/1) – 82.29

9. Budweiser (3/9) – 81.6

10. Jackson Pollocks (2/4) – 81.4

11. MGD Twisters (1/11) – 77.4

12. Big Blue (2/12) – 76.5

League two:

1. 4th and Goal (1/5) - 99.1

2. Nashville Crackheads (1/1) - 86.6

3. Highly Poisonous Yak Vipers (2/6) – 86.5

4. Dominating Measures (3/10) – 85.9

5. Killer Bs (1/8) – 85.622

6. Jordan’s Patriots (3/4) – 85.621

7. Freedom Fighters (1/2) – 84.0

8. 86 The Competition (2/11) – 83.8

9. Lazy Azn (2/9) – 83.3

10. Leatherfaces (3/7) – 81.0

11. Riverhawks (2/12) – 79.0

12. The Longest Day (3/3) – 78.8

UPDATE: Doug’s projections are below, as mentioned in the comments.  The columns are: draft slot, points per game, wins, losses, ties, and chances for winning the division, wild card, making the playoffs, having the best regular season record, having the most regular season points, and winning the championship.  I must point out that these are based on my points per game projections, and not his.

League 1 Pick# Pts/Gm AVG_W AVG_L AVG_T DIV WC POFF REG PTS CHAMP
Scaly Men-Fish 6 94 8.8 5.0 0.2 67.4 8.5 76.0 28.0 33.3 25.2
Gridiron Gods 7 82.4 6.5 7.3 0.2 14.7 8.7 23.4 3.1 1.1 3.9
Jackson Pollocks 4 81.4 6.3 7.5 0.2 12.4 7.6 20.0 2.5 0.8 3.1
Big Blue 12 76.5 5.4 8.4 0.2 5.5 3.3 8.8 0.8 0.1 1.1
Challengers 10 95.6 9.1 4.8 0.2 70.2 9.2 79.5 34.2 45.7 28.9
Hitmen 8 82.3 6.5 7.3 0.2 12.5 9.3 21.7 3.0 1.0 3.7
Ballome 1 82.3 6.5 7.3 0.2 12.1 9.5 21.6 2.9 1.1 3.6
MGD Twisters 11 77.4 5.5 8.3 0.2 5.2 4.1 9.3 0.9 0.1 1.2
Trips 5 87.9 7.5 6.3 0.2 32.8 11.7 44.4 8.8 7.0 10.3
Junkyard 3 86.6 7.3 6.6 0.2 27.4 10.9 38.3 6.8 4.7 8.1
Hanablasters 2 86.4 7.2 6.6 0.2 26.9 10.9 37.8 6.7 4.4 8.0
Budweiser 9 81.6 6.3 7.6 0.2 12.9 6.4 19.3 2.3 0.8 3.1
League 2 Pick# Pts/Gm AVG_W AVG_L AVG_T DIV WC POFF REG PTS CHAMP
Measures 10 85.9 7.2 6.6 0.2 35.9 6.3 42.3 6.9 3.4 9.1
Leatherfaces 7 81.0 6.2 7.6 0.2 17.5 4.2 21.7 2.4 0.6 3.5
Patriots 4 85.6 7.2 6.7 0.2 34.0 6.4 40.4 6.5 3.0 8.4
Longest Day 3 78.8 5.8 8.0 0.2 12.6 3.0 15.6 1.4 0.2 2.2
Yak Vipers 6 86.5 7.3 6.5 0.2 37.3 6.6 43.9 7.7 4.0 9.7
86 Them 11 83.8 6.8 7.0 0.2 25.7 5.9 31.6 4.4 1.6 5.9
Lazy Azn 9 83.3 6.7 7.1 0.2 24.5 5.5 30.0 4.0 1.4 5.6
RiverHawks 12 79.0 5.8 8.0 0.2 12.5 3.2 15.7 1.5 0.2 2.2
4th & Goal 5 99.1 9.5 4.4 0.2 67.4 14.8 82.2 48.9 76.6 37.5
Crackheads 1 86.6 7.1 6.8 0.2 13.1 16.9 30.0 7.0 4.3 6.6
Freedom Fighters 2 84.0 6.5 7.3 0.2 8.5 12.0 20.5 4.0 1.7 3.9
Killer Bs 8 85.6 6.9 7.0 0.2 10.9 15.1 26.1 5.6 3.0 5.5
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