March Madness, April Yelling At My TV

Evidently I would have notched an early win in my bracket pool had Auburn defeated Virginia, so that non-call on the double dribble and the (admittedly justified) call on the 3 point foul now have me in the position of needing Michigan State to win the whole thing Monday night.

They also had me in the position of screaming obscenities at my TV, but I think my TV is used to that now after the last few Yankee games. I’m sure it forgives me and understands its patient and therapeutic role in what outsiders might view as an abusive relationship, but one my TV understands as monogamous devoted love.

Sorry, Texas Tech, gotta root for Sparty right now! Big money at stake!

The pic is for me downing red wine in advance of dinner. That will ease my annoyance at learning the basketball rule book the same time as the refs.

UPDATE: Well, I might be drinking the rest of that bottle of wine. Along with maybe the rest of the alcohol in the house. It’s Texas Tech v. Virginia on Monday, and my bracket is as dead as a Star Trek red shirt. Bah.

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Every Year The Yankees Do This To Me

Injuries, injuries everywhere. What kind of training regimen are these guys on that makes ’em so fragile? The season is only a few games old, and it seems like half the starting lineup is already on the IL or facing end-of-season surgery.

In Spring Training, Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks went down and I’m guessing from all the cryptic garbage we hear on their condition, won’t be back until late May at the earliest. Dellin Bettances out until mid-April. Didi Gregorius gone for most likely the entire season.

And now, Giancarlo Stanton out for a week with a biceps injury, and FAR worse, Miguel Andujar, last year’s shoulda-been rookie of the year, gets a torn up right shoulder that might require season ending surgery.

Last year it was Aaron Judge out for six weeks. Jordan Montgomery out for Tommy John surgery (hopefully back this summer).

These guys seem like they’re made of paper maché and glass. What gives? After a weekend of watching college kids take body-slam spills to the hardwood floor and get right back up again in the NCAAs (except for that poor kid on Auburn who ripped his ACL), why are baseball players so damn delicate?

Yeah, I know… maybe the call-ups from AAA like Frazier and Wade and German can become another Andujar-esque surprise, but I’m not holding my breath. They got a relatively easy schedule to start the season – only a 2 game Red Sox series and a series with the Astros loom large alongside teams like Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City, the Angels and San Francisco… but how many holes can be filled at once?

Though somehow, watching Sonny Gray have a classic Sonny Gray Yankee-like start for the Reds the other day (walks in runs, over 80 pitches by the middle of the 3rd and gets pulled) gave me some hope that the roster this year’ll be better. Sanchez looks like he’s hitting again. Greg “Mr. March” Bird doesn’t look too pathetic, at least not yet. New additions James Paxton and Adam Ottovino are both pitching well. Sabathia returns soon from his suspension. And the Red Sox are off to a bad start.

But they gotta stay healthy. This is getting ridiculous.

BTW, I found the photo above on this smartass’ dormant Yankee-hating blog, which I must admit made me laugh scrolling through it. It’s funny the intense emotions something as silly as sports bring out of people.

Life Begins On Opening Day, 2019 Version

Baseball is back tomorrow, with the Yankees opening up with the Orioles at home.

All the predictions I’ve seen for this season essentially have last season’s winners repeating, except for a few people picking the Phillies due to all of their impressive off-season acquisitions.

Gotta say… I mostly concur, especially in the AL, where the Yankees, Astros and defending champ Red Sox are easily the top teams in the league. I doubt the Sox can win as many games as they did last year, but I can still see them and the Yankees at 100+ wins and fighting over division versus wild card with a 90+ win Rays team breathing down their necks. The Astros ought to win the west without a total collapse, in which case the A’s might surprise. The Indians are a safe bet for the central. Neither the Twins or White Sox can really mount a real challenge.

In the NL? A lot of people picking the Dodgers, but I dunno… they might have a real fight for the west on their hands with the Rockies. The central is a tossup between the Brewers and Cubs, the Cards are always in it and the Reds added enough to make themselves into the spoiler. I’d probably go with the Cubs if I had to. The NL east is a good race too – I wouldn’t count the Nats out even with losing Harper, the Phillies should definitely make a run for it, but I think I’d take Atlanta to repeat in the end.

And in the post-season? Well, who the hell knows, with all the playoff tiers and 1 game wild cards and who’ll be injured and what not. Whatever the hot team in September coming into it turns out to be will mostly likely come out on top.

The Yankees? Certainly could be – they got a killer hitting line-up if everyone stays healthy and the stars align. I just hope it won’t be home runs or nothing, though…. doesn’t anyone play contact ball anymore?? Stupid analytics, shifts and bullshit…. math is the enemy of this sport. The pitching is good enough, bullpen strong… but already some health issues with Severino and Bettances. And Paxton has had issues in the past. On the plus side, there’s no more expecting that certain loss on Sonny Gray day.

We’ll see. My hopes are up for this Yankee team, but they got probably the best Red Sox team in history (and that’s sayin’ somethin’) to overcome.

The Perfect March Madness Bracket, Everyone!

Perfect because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.

I watched a lot of the conference championship games over the weekend, listened to other prognosticators, etc. And then I knew a colleague of mine would be running the annual pool, so I dove in for ten bucks and filled this one out today.

I feel fairly confident about some 1st round upset picks, like UC Irvine, New Mexico State and Murray State… but as we delve deeper, I realized I had knocked every #1 seed out of my final four. Ah well…. there’s an argument to be made for North Carolina over Kentucky or Tennessee over Kentucky, but I figured I’d pick ’em both times and go all in.

I’m also pretty confident in seeing Duke knocked out of the elite 8 by VA Tech, if not sooner…. I think every other team out there knows that if you force Duke to shoot outside, you have a real chance.

Yeah, I have Yale going to the Sweet 16. I think they have a real shot at upsetting LSU in the opener, and again in round 2… but don’t get me wrong, Yale still sucks and should be razed to the ground for the ongoing damage it continues to do to America as a whole. It’s the only Ivy (so far, anyway) caught up in the current pay-to-get-in admission scandal. It’s law school alums make up far too much a share of our current political landscape. The only thing going for it is that it’s not Harvard.

Brown hasn’t made the tournament since 1986. BUT I’M NOT BITTER.

I’m really not, I couldn’t care less.

Nobody’s bribing their way into Brown! Yay! I think Brown still lets people in free and makes them bribe their way out. But don’t hold me to that.

Anyhow, it’s always fun to watch far too much college hoops this time of year, root for underdogs, root for some kid I never heard of to have a great game or more, feel old whenever some kid is the son of someone I remember playing in the pros or college, feel REALLY old whenever a coach is younger than I am, shake my head over a guy as funny as Charles Barkley not be funny in cringe-worthy badly scripted Spike Lee credit card commercials (Seriously, Sir Charles, call me…. I can make FAR better ads for you to be in) that also manage to totally untap the ocean of talents in Samuel L. Jackson, now that I think of it…

Meh.

Feel free to critique my bracket. But as I said…

(Winter) Baseball Is Back!

Baseball exhibitions started up this weekend, and I actually spent time watching most of the first two Yankee games, mostly to see which veterans looked like they were getting in shape for the upcoming season, and seeing what minor league/rookie prospects the Yanks might have in the offing. I mean, who knew about Miguel Andujar at this point last year amirite?

And look at the Spring Training Schedule, where only the final 4 games are technically played during Spring. It’s really Winter baseball down there in Florida, but at least it makes me look forward to the Spring.

The first two games gave me little to go on in terms of Yankee prospects this year. Except for making “Mr. March!” jokes at Greg Bird’s expense, I guess. Some of the AAA players trying to make the team look like good prospects, tho. If we assume the PED screening is working honestly, I wonder if there are the beginning signs of a correlation between a shrinking number of boys going out for football and a growing number of really huge dudes showing up in baseball. I think we’ll see ’em soon, in any case.

If you recognize the pic above, you’re as big a baseball geek as me. And since I didn’t feel like digging out my old Strat-O-Matic board game from 1972 that I’ve got shelved up in the board game collection, I began reading online to see if there were a modern day MacOS equivalent baseball simulator, where you can play manager to current & historic teams.

Strat-O-Matic only makes a Windows version of their games, something that surprised me. You’d think they’d be more competitive.

But YE GODS did I find one that I can recommend to my fellow baseball nerds. Out Of The Park baseball will not only replay last year’s MLB stats but also comes with a historic database going back over a hundred years. It includes minor leagues, world baseball, and historic negro league teams, too. I’ve been playing with the demo and figured out how to match different teams in the same year, but not across time yet…. I played a 1932 match between the Yankees of that year (Gehrig, Ruth, Ruffing, Gomez, etc) against the Pittsburgh Crawfords (Satchell Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, et al), basically two of the all-time greatest teams… and it played out pretty well. But pitting the ’32 Crawfords against the ’98 Yankees or the ’32 Yankees against last year’s Red Sox…well, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

Out of The Park is FAR more elaborate than Strat-O-Matic, both a boon and a hinderance, though. OOTP runs a league for the entire season, has you as manager & general manager promote/demote players, deal with injuries, keeps track of relievers’ stresses, allows you to trade players, sign other executives…. it got overwhelming at times when all I wanted to do was match up a couple of historic teams and see how the stats would play out with my managerial strategery on one side. With Strat-O-Matic, you’d grab 2 card sets of teams and go. OOTP doesn’t provide any intuitive shortcuts, although maybe I still haven’t found them and I’m only playing the demo version so far, anyway.

So far, it’s played a lot of accurate games. Bucky Dent hit a winning walk-off homerun for the ’77 Yankees to defeat the ’77 Brewers. And I put Aroldis Chapman in to close & save a one run lead over the 2018 Red Sox, and he promptly walked the bases full and gave up a hit to lose the game. Now THAT’S realism!

I’ll play around with managing other teams, or seeing if I can just play one-shot games without loading all the general manager stuff. I can come up with endless combos and matchups I’d love to see, whether it’s 1968 Bob Gibson pitching to 1921 Babe Ruth or seeing if I can make Nolan Ryan bean Ty Cobb a few times. This thing certainly looks like baseball nerd nirvana.

I’ll play with the demo some more, and I’ll spring for the full version at some point, although I know how much of an awesome timewasting thing it will wind up being. But I can’t help myself! I NEED BASEBALL REHAB.


How BOUT Them Patriots!

This one was especially sweet. I NEVER thought they’d get back there a third year in a row. I KNEW in my widdle heart of hearts, especially after that Miami debacle, that they’d go out in the playoffs.

And yet, here they are AGAIN, Superbowl champs!

And with a Jewish MVP!!!! ONE FOR THE TRIBE, BABY!!!! Edelman, future hall of famer, just flat out amazin’!

I could muse about who is back next year and who won’t be and all that other crap, but I’ll save it for later. Too busy enjoying this now, and plan to bask in it for the time being. I spent my childhood, high school, college and young adult years watching this team either disappoint or outright suck. The last 17 years have been amazing, a blessing, something to treasure as a sports fan.

Oh, Patriots hater, are ya? Don’t like Brady? Don’t like Belichick? Well, then…


Me, During The Patriots’ AFC Championship Game

I lost count of how many heart attacks I had during that one, even if they all came in the 2nd half and the overtime.

I’d figured the entire game would go like the 2nd half and overtime, maybe I should be relieved.

Amazing game, tho. Even all of you Patriot/Brady/Belichick/Gronk etc HATERS out there gotta admit MY team gives lovers of the sport some of the most exciting postseason games EVER. As someone who remembers far too many snorefest Superbowls of the 1970s-80s, be thankful you’re a fan in this moment, even if you’d prefer a different outcome.

So it’ll be where Brady started – Patriots vs Rams, only this time, the newbie kids are on the other side of the field. Should be a good one, and will probably mean I should stock up on the CoQ10, red wine & cholestoff.


Football Card For This Weekend: 1960 Fleer Harvey White

As I mentally prepare for this Sunday’s AFC Championship game, the Patriots’ record 8th in a row, I’m thinking about how amazing this run has been.

A lot of us Pats fans get accused of being bandwagoners, who never paid attention to the team pre-Brady era. Well, I’ve been watching & rooting for these guys since the days of Jim Plunkett, Steve Grogan & Sam “BAM” Cunningham. I watched as they’d break yer heart like a true Boston team year after year – first in the playoffs in the late ’70s, to an embarrassing Superbowl wipeout in ’86, and beyond.

When they went 1-15 in the 1990 season, I watched every game at a local sports bar with one other Pats fan. We’d watch them suck, commiserate, and eat the decent food. The one week they beat the Jeff George Colts was a cause for celebration.

Things looked up when horrible owner Victor Kiam sold the team, and thankfully the new owner who wanted to move the team to St. Louis got checkmated by stadium owner Robert Kraft, who then bought the team. He built a new stadium Continue reading “Football Card For This Weekend: 1960 Fleer Harvey White”

This Seems A Tad Expensive

Click on image to enlarge

Really? 2.7 million for a 1978 Craig Reynolds card?

I mean, he was a decent player and all, but I don’t think his 1978 card is up there with a 1909 Honus Wagner, y’know?

Maybe I misread the listing. Maybe the card comes shipped in a fleet of Lamborghinis. Or, perhaps it’s for the ACTUAL Craig Reynolds, now a Baptist pastor in Houston. How much do retired shortstops/pastors in Houston go for these days, anyway?

I was curious enough to email the seller:

Hi

This turned up in my suggestions and caught my attention. The price seems slightly high. So I’m curious.

I really want this price not to be a typo. I’d like to think people have made you ridiculous offers for this card thinking it’s some sort of rare error or the like. If so, more power to you.

My other theory is that you ARE Craig Reynolds. If so, you were a pretty good SS for the Astros.

In any case, I’d love to hear the story behind this listing if you want to answer, thanks in advance! If not, I’ll enjoy the mystery.

I’ll update this post if I get an answer.

Maybe more wacky suggestions will turn up in my ebay feed since I bought a few old cards the other day. Who knows?

In the meantime, make those best offers. Craig’s not getting any younger.

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