PhotoHunt: Blake Griffin Versus the Backboard

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's PhotoHunt Time. Take a look at the pictures and see if you can figure where the 5 differences are. Click on the Image to get a larger view if needed. Then when you are done check out the answers linked below.

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2009 AL West Preview

The AL West is a world for holy beings. It shall continue in 2009.

1. Los Angeles Angels

The Angels have been the king of the West for a long time and should still be considered the favorites in 2009. But this season they will be challenged much more heavily than in years past and the reason for this is the health of their starting rotation. Last year they were able to overcome the Lackey and Escobar injuries with massive performances by Santana and Saunders. This year Santana is on the shelf with Lackey and Escobar, so picks up the pace?

Key Player: Jered Weaver, Someone needs to hold up the fort while Lackey, Santana and Escobar. Weaver has the most potentialof the starters in the rotation but his stats have gotten progressively worse season after season after season. His ERA and Winning Percentage have gone in the wrong direction every year since his rookie season. The Angels can ill afford one of their experienced pitchers regressing even more when they will be relying so heavily on youth to fill the hole left by their injuries.

Player to Eye: Kendry Morales, No more Teixeira or Casey Kotcman means it's finally time for Kenry Morales to get his shot at first base. The Cuban defect has absolutely raked in the minors never posting below a .300 average in any level. He hit .341 in both 07 and 08 in the minors. That has yet to translate in the majors to production or playing time. 2009 is his opportunity, what will he do.

Record Prediction: 84-78

2.Texas Rangers

Bats, Bats, Bats, Bats and ugh pitching. It's the Rangers modus operandi. With Millwood, Padilla, Benson, McCarthy and Harrison there could be a lot of long afternoons in the Texas Sun. But really who needs pitching in Texas when you can enjoy 13-10 games?

Key Player: Ian Kinsler, you really have no hope with any of the Rangers pitchers so naturally their key player is either Kinsler or Hamilton. Both are absolute studs and showed to be premium players in 2009. I'm going with Kinsler as the key player because Hamilton's RBI numbers are much a product of Kinsler staying healhty and getting on base. Kinsler missed 40+ games last year and has yet to compile over 130 games in his three seasons, if his health collapses again so will the Rangers' chances.

Player to Eye: Chris Davis, The rookie burst on the scene last year with power power power. He's a Rangers prospect, what did you expect. If you extrapalate his stats out to a full season, he's .285, 34 hr, 110 rbi, 102 runs. That's a beastly season.

Record Prediction: 81-81

3. Oakland Athletics

The A's are being exhalted by many for their potential to take home the AL West and well, I'm not quite seeing it. Why am I skepticle? Well tell me what big pitcher they have? With Duscherererer on the DL to start the year their rotation is Braden, Gallagher, Eveland, and two rookies in Cahill and Anderson. That's a division winning rotation?

Key Player: Matt Holliday, What shall the splits say in 2009? Matt Holliday in Coors was Manny Ramirez. Matt Holliday outside Coors was more Raul Ibanez. What will he do with an entire year outside of the friendly friendly mountain air? The A's really could use those Manny Ramirez numbers.

Player to Eye: Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, The season is one week away and the A's are eying up two rookies to put in their rotation. The two are listed as the A's #1 and #2 prospects, their time is now. Do both stick? Do both fall back in the minors? What do they do?

Record Prediction: 80-82

4. Seattle Mariners

I vastly overestimated the Mariners last year after the acquiring of Erik Bedard. So this year let me vastly underestimate them. They can be my MLB equivalent of Tampa Bay Bucs predictions, from one side of the spectrum to the other.

Key Player: Erik Bedard, King Felix is great but he needs a partner in crime and the Mariners needs that partner to be Bedard. He has shown Cy Young type stuff and is in a contract year so the Mariners certainly hope he comes through. The health isssues throw up about 5 red flags to make you take a step back and question just how much he'll be able to contribute.

Player to Eye: Brandon Morrow, Brandon Morrow went from just another young starting pitcher with potential to potentially amongst the leagues most dominant closers. He is yelling Papelbon at you. He has the stuff to start but the arm health just isn't cooperating. He's going to be the closer for good this year, adjust accordingly.

Record Prediction: 72-90

Check Out All the Previews: AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL East, NL Central, NL West

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2009 NL West Preview

First off we get the NL West, home to two of the worst offenses in baseball, possibly ever.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers come back as defending division winner. Their lineup shall be improved with the addition of the O-Dog and potentially the further development of their young stars like Kemp, Ethier, Loney and DeWitt. Their questionmarks however lie strictly on their starting rotation. The loss of Derek Lowe's consistency must be replaced somewhere. Will it be Randy Wolf? An improved Clayton Kershaw? They'll need someone to step up to maintain their Western dominance.

Key Player: Manny Ramirez, The Dodgers spent the entire offseason concentrating on bringing back Manny Ramirez. Without him their lineup lacks the main cog, with him they'll be full speed ahead. You probably can't expect him to hit 4000 like he did last year in Dodger blue, but the typical Manny .310 35 120 is absolutely essential to the Dodgers success.

Player to Eye: Clayton Kershaw, While people were frothing from the mouth for David Price this offsense, Kershaw clearly was the better option. In 107 innings last season he had 100 Ks and a 4.26 ERA as a 20 year old. This year he will be thrust into the rotation full time and the numbers could be lights out.

Record Prediction: 90-72

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks went through a mini collapse last season to get surpassed by the Dodgers. This year they bring back a squad with the best 1 2 punch in the NL and a whole lot of youngsters in the lineup with one extra year of experience.

Key Player: Max Scherzer, Having 2 great pitchers is wonderful, but they're only going to pitch 40% of the time. The Diamondbacks need that third cog and Scherzer is best candidate to become that man. He has the stuff to sit players on their ass on a consistent basis, he just needs to command the strike zone a little better and most importantly he needs to stay healthy.

Player to Eye: Felipe Lopez, A few seasons ago Felipe Lopez was a keeper player in my fantasy league (mine in fact), then he got traded to the Nationals and his production got shot in the foot. Last season he quitely, and I mean really quietly, batted .383 in 43 games for the Cardinals. In other words, he was a monster for them down the stretch. If the shitty Felipe Lopez was just a Washington casualty, and the real Felipe Lopez .290 hitter with double digit power and speed, than the Dbacks will be pumped they let the O-Dog go and brought in Lopez.

Record Prediction: 85-77

t3. Colorado Rockies

The Rockies made the World Series just two seasons ago, that seems like light years ago to me. They no longer have their best player, and what they got for him in Smith and Street have not stepped up this spring. Smith is going to miss out on a spot in the rotation and Street might just wind up being the set up man. So much for his promise.

Key Player: Ubaldo Jimenez & Franklin Morales, I'm going with the same two pitchers I went with last year as the Rockies key players. These are their two best arms. With Jeff Francis on the shelf for the eyar, they're going to need someone to step up in the rotation. Jimenez took a massive step forward in 2008, but still has further room to improve in 09. Morales on the other hand was miserable in 08, and really needs to step up in 09 if the Rockies are going to contend.

Player to Eye: Ian Stewart, Come on Colorado find this kid a spot in the lineup already. He's got mid 20 home run power but you can't find him a spot in the lineup on a day to day basis. You're playing Seth Smith as the starting left fielder? If Ryan Braun can make the transition to left field, Stewart can.

Record Prediction: 79-83

t3. San Francisco Giants

Great pitching, poop lineup. That was the Giants in 08 that is the Giants in 09. But fear not San Fran, you ridiculously overpaid for have Edgar Renteria now. Last year I underestimated both their hitting and pitching, this year they are mildly improved, but not enough to win in the mid 80s.

Key Player: Aaron Rowand, We'll go with Aaron Rowand again as their key player because, well, someone needs to step up and hit some homers. Rowand is probably the most likely to do so, but when Rowand is your #1 option that's not a good thing.

Player to Eye: Jonathan Sanchez, He's a K machine in the #5 starters role, but the ERA was certainly not terrific. If you get quality starts from your #5 guy than you are going to put yourself in position for a September run. Sanchez has the skill and potential to turn it around. Will he?

Record Prediction: 79-83

5. San Diego Padres

You want shitty lineups, you'll love the Padres. They just might be worse than the Giants lineup. It's Adrian Gonzalez and then slop. David Eckstein, post steroids Brian Giles, the Kouz, Jody Gerut, non-descript catcher and shortstop... Ugh. They already play in a pitcher's park, throw in their shitty lineups and pitchers are gonna love throwin in Petco.

Key Player: Chris Young, Chris Young got injured last year and down went the Padres rotation. It's not really his fault took a bullet line drive off his face but still, without him the Padres rotation is a 1 man show.

Player to Eye: Heath Bell, How many games the Padres going to blow out someone? 3? Maybe 2? Last year Brian Wilson chalked up save after save for the Giants because they couldn't score runs so any lead was just a run or so. Same thing goes for Heath Bell in 09.

Record Prediction: 69-93

Check Out All the Previews: AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL East, NL Central, NL West

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2009 MLB Predictions

Here's the record predictions for 2009. I'll post a few points on them after you take a peek.



~The records are significantly and I mean significantly more towards the middle than last season. The reasons are as follows, I was mightily burnt by the massively incorrect predictions of the Tigers and Mariners. Massively incorrect. Second, I think almost every team in the MLB has terribly large holes.

~The numbers around the projections are just so that I can convince everyone the records work out so I don't have any jackasses this year yelling at me for having the AL win more games than the NL. They play interleague play, the AL dominates every year. They will again this year. Hence I have the AL having an 8 game over .500 record in interleague play.

~Over the course of the next few days I will have a preview up for each division. That will go into more details into what my thoughts are for each squad.

~Check Out All the Previews: AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL East, NL Central, NL West

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2009 MAC Football Schedule (Helmet Style)

Monday, March 30, 2009


I went with Vintage helmets because it added a little twist. Click on the Image for a Full Size Version. If you want the Excel File for whatever reason or have a correction to the schedule, email me at SimonOnSports at gmail dot com. Also feel free to Check Out the Other Conference Helmet Schedules.

*Update, Download the Entire Helmet Schedule Here

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How To Instantly Go From Hero to Villain by Seth Curry


It feels like a moment in a WWE match. You know the moment. Two heroes come into the ring to take out the villains. Everything is going well until all of a sudden one hero finds a folding chair and pulls it into the ring and all of a sudden when his partner's back is turned he smashes him to the ground. The hero has turned, he is now hated by all.

Today Seth Curry makes the leap to enemy. Instead of picking a nondescript ACC School or landing at VaTech to follow in his footsteps, he chooses Duke. We should have seen it coming. Soft Jump Shooters love Duke. He's the perfect Duke villain. Silky Smooth jump shot. Limited ability to play defense. Skinny as a pencil. He's the perfect successor for the Scheyer's of the world.

We shouldn't have been blindsided. It was an obvious decision. But we had hopes for a family that's added so much fun to college basketaball the past two years. The hopes are smashed, the Curry name will never be the same. Seth just dropped a massive chair smash to it.

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PhotoHunt: Scotty Reynolds Buzzer Beater

It's PhotoHunt Time. Take a look at the pictures and see if you can figure where the 5 differences are. Click on the Image to get a larger view if needed. Then when you are done check out the answers linked below.

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NCAA Coaches Love Yelling

One thing I noticed when I was browsing through the ole NCAA tournament pictures on ESPN.com after the first few rounds was that there was a ridiculous amount of pictures of coaches yelling. In fact you could find a picture of basically every single coach screaming at their players or the refs or their MILF wives. So I decided to take on a new challenge and try to make a little collage photo of all the NCAA coaches yelling. The image below is 65 NCAA Coaches all screaming at someone.


*Almost all of the pictures I used were actually from the NCAA tournament. A handful of pictures were from a respective conference tournament and a handful were from google images. The only coach I could not find any picture of was Danny Kaspar of Stephen F. Austin. I replaced him with George Blaney the UConn assistant that coached in the opening round.

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Sometimes Defense is Hard: Pitt Let One Slip Away

One trend I noticed over the first weekend of NCAA play is that sometimes in the big spot the opposing defense let's you get easy buckets. Sometimes Defense Is Hard breaks down some of those occasions.

The Scenario: Pitt tied up after a Levance Fields free throw goes into a press to try to force overtime.

Tie Game Here Comes the Press

The benefits of the press are forcing the squad to burn some clock getting the ball up the court. The negatives are if they break the press an easy basket awaits. So which route does it go.

And the Beginning of the End Starts Now

Sam Young let's the ball get inbounded in front of him. Now here's where the obvious issues start. Look at where the two players responsible for Scotty Reynold's are. They are way behind him.

3 on 2 Fast Break

Sam Young finds himself out of position and blown by as well. Now we have a 3 on 2 fast break with great spacing. Reynolds like any good guard is going to take the ball to the middle on the break to make floor spacing completely optimal. Blair either needs to step up and pressure Reynolds and force the ball out of his hands or back off into the paint and set up a 2 man front a couple feet from the hoop to force Reynolds into a jump shot decision.

And the Hand Wavery Comes

Instead of stepping in front or backing off Blair just waves his hand at Reynolds and let's him blow by. Now Gilbert Brown is on an island. Essentiall a 3 on 1 fast break, but time is slightly on his side. He needs to force the ball out of Reynolds hands.

Contest the Damn Shot

There's a second left, contest the damn shot. Gilbert puts his hands up and essentially prays that Reynolds misses a 4 foot floater. And then....

Nighty Night Pitt

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Who Wants 4th Round Knicks Playoff Tickets?

Sunday, March 29, 2009


So who wants to drop 349 dollars on those Knicks 4th round playoff tickets? The games on June 7th at the Garden, it should be a thriller. And it's game 2, so they have homecourt, man them Knicks are going to have a superb next few weeks.

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Fantasy Toss Up: Zack Greinke vs. Yovani Gallardo

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's time to pick between two midtier pitchers who will certainly be on my players to watch list come draft day.

The Fantasy Rankings

CBS ranks Yovani at 135 and Greinke at 142.
Yahoo Big Board says no to midtier pitching.
ESPN has Yovani at 86 and Greinke at 83.

So ESPN apparently loves pitching. Whichever way you cut it these two are side by side in the rankings.

Projections

Yovani Gallardo: 3.99 ERA, 13-9, 196 IP, 201 Ks, 1.30 WHIP
Zack Greinke: 3.99 ERA, 12-10, 194 IP, 156 Ks, 1.28 WHIP

The Projections say Yovani based on strikeout potential. The issue is that Greinke K'd 183 last season in just 8 more innings, why would the K numbers plummet by almost 30? Not sure I'm buying that.

Surrounding Lineup

The Brewers have big boppers in Braun and Prince that are significantly better than any Royals. Additionally JJ Hardy has put together back to back solid seasons. After those three there are some question marks. Will Rickie Weeks hit .220 again? Can Corey Hart get on base at a better clip or will he continue to basically never walk? Same goes with Mike Cameron. Is Bill Hall toast? And well Jason Kendall isn't really a question mark, he's just bad.

The Royals roster is "YOUTHENIZED", with Aviles, Butler and Gordon all core pieces of their lineup. They need each player to bump up their past seasons production. The additions of Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs add both speed and power to the top of the lineup. With daily pt, Coco could potentially hit double digit homers and steal 20+ bases. Jacobs hit 32 home runs last year in 142 games. He can't hit lefties a lick, but he's got pop and is mashing in the spring with 6 bombs already.

Question Marks

The Greinke brain. The Greinke brain is a brain that has broken down and almost ended his career in the past. A little mental flair up and Greinke could potentially go from a solid mid-tier ace to a guy sitting in a Psych ward.

For Yovani its really the sophomore slump. Some times pitchers bust out in their rookies years and dominate and then the batters start to adjust to the pitchers repertoire. This is effectively Yovani's sophomore year.

The Verdict
This is a toss up and that's why it fits here. I owned Greinke last year and reaped the rewards and I owned Gallardo in 07 and reaped the rewards. This year if I'm going to target one or the other, I'm going with Gallardo. I feel as if their numbers are going to be very very similar but I favor Gallardo thanks to a much better lineup as well as being in the National League. Those extra Ks against the pitchers are just so delicious.

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PhotoHunt: Welcome to Thabeet's Block Party

It's PhotoHunt Time. Take a look at the pictures and see if you can figure where the 5 differences are. Click on the Image to get a larger view if needed. Then when you are done check out the answers linked below.

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Duke Tears Are the Most Delicious Tears

How many times did you orgasm last night watching the Duke game? 2? Maybe 3? That game couldn't have possibly been more enjoyable. The best part about last night was it took maybe 5 minutes of watching the game to know that Villanova had a thorough advantage in physicality and athleticism and that it was just a matter of time before they pulled away. My favorite portion of the entire night was when Duke couldn't even get a shot off for like three straight possessions. Mostly because Duke doesn't actually play defense. They play the charging game. "Oh look someones driving to the paint, let me step in front of him and try to take a charge. The refs will give me the call cause we're Duke and Paulus sucks them off before the game."

Watching Duke get dominated completely made up for my bracket going boom last night thanks to the turnover machine that was Memphis. Let's carry the joy over to today by enjoying some pictures of Duke losers.





That makes me smile.

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Fantasy Philosophy: Search for the Comeback Kids

People remember the here and now most, they remember the pain and suffering from last season and they remember the joy from last season. The previous years are kind of just blended in the background of the memory. In a draft you must expose this. You must look for players that had a down year that you think will bounce back, they will come at a bargain basement price.

Take Aaron Harang for instance. Harang had two phenomenal seasons in 06&07. His era was 3.76 or lower, his WHIP was elite and his Ks were through the roof. And then there was last year. His ERA was a run higher he got lit up and well that is stuck in a ton of peoples minds. In reality he was both unhealthy and unlucky. His batting average against sky rocketed. Harang is going in the wee hours of your draft and could easily revert back to his stud levels in 06&07.

Another player that fits this category is Robinson Cano. Cano's a little bit of a loosy goosy guy and last year he had an abominable April. It tanked his entire He ended up hitting .276 for the season and is now thought of as a middle of the pack 2b. The thing is, he's not. He's shown up to the spring motivated and ready to go. He's mashing at a .389 pace. He's a .300 hitter, with 20 home run potential, hitting in a massive lineup, at the age of 26. Draft him.

These are the types of risks you want to take in. You want players with a track record for success coming off down years because people put way way too much weight in one poor season.

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2009 Fantasy Relief Pitcher Rankings

Thursday, March 26, 2009



If you haven't seen how the rankings work go here.

For a list of the rest of the rankings and the rest of the fantasy baseball blowout go here.

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2009 Fantasy Starting Pitcher Rankings



If you haven't seen how the rankings work go here.

For a list of the rest of the rankings and the rest of the fantasy baseball blowout go here.

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2009 Fantasy Outfield Rankings



If you haven't seen how the rankings work go here.

For a list of the rest of the rankings and the rest of the fantasy baseball blowout go here.

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2009 Fantasy Third Baseman Rankings



If you haven't seen how the rankings work go here.

For a list of the rest of the rankings and the rest of the fantasy baseball blowout go here.

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2009 Fantasy Short Stop Rankings



If you haven't seen how the rankings work go here.

For a list of the rest of the rankings and the rest of the fantasy baseball blowout go here.

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Fantasy Philosophy: Never Chase Wins

Rule #1 while picking pitchers is control the controllables. In other words key on the projections which the pitcher has the most control over and then take the others into consideration. The most controlled pitcher stat? Strikeouts. Strikeout pitchers don't emerge from thin air. Mr. Wang in the Bronx is never going to strike out 200 hitters. Meanwhile Matt Cain who you probably can get at the same point just might.

The next two stats that are the controllable for pitchers are his splits, ERA and WHIP. A better pitcher is going to get outs and is going to give up less baserunners. It doesn't matter if he's on the Mets or the Marlins. Ricky Nolasco is simply going to have a better ERA and WHIP than Ollie P.

Wins are simply the tie breaker really. If a pitcher is on a better team than and the stats are nearly the same the pull the trigger on the Dodger instead of the Padre. Just don't let wins carry equal weight as the other stats.

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2009 Fantasy Second Baseman Rankings



If you haven't seen how the rankings work go here.

For a list of the rest of the rankings and the rest of the fantasy baseball blowout go here.

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2009 Fantasy First Baseman Rankings



If you haven't seen how the rankings work go here.

For a list of the rest of the rankings and the rest of the fantasy baseball blowout go here.

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PhotoHunt: Fantasy Baseball Blowout

It's PhotoHunt Time. Take a look at the pictures and see if you can figure where the 5 differences are. Click on the Image to get a larger view if needed. Then when you are done check out the answers linked below.

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2009 Fantasy Catcher Rankings



If you haven't seen how the rankings work go here.

For a list of the rest of the rankings and the rest of the fantasy baseball blowout go here.

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2009 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Definitions

Today I'm going to come out with rankings for all position players. Each position will include a spreadsheet with three tabs. Let me explain how it all works.

First of all, all the stats utilized in the spreadsheets are projections from CBS Sportsline. They were easy to grab and more close to expectations than the CHONE projections which are fantastically low for anybody that's missed significant time over the past few years. Plus, chone had Eric Young stealing 40 bases and being one of the most valuable 2nd baseman in fantasy baseball, and well I don't know if he's even making the roster. Secondly the rankings are for Roto 5*5, but my leagues rules. So, the difference is my league has hits not average and innings pitched not WHIP. Don't think that makes a big difference? It does, especially hits -> average. Ok onto the explanation. The base goals are also set to the category leaders in my league last year, so for instance the winner of my home run category had 300 so that's the goal to maintain for this season. Finally the roster sizes and divisors are all set to my roster size, so 2 per infield position, 5 outfielders, 7 starters, 3 relievers, all starting.

Stat %: The Stat % represents what percentage of your overall team stats a player accounts for. So say a player is likely to hit 30 home runs and your goal is 300. Than that is 10% of your desired home run totals. If he is going to get 0 steals in the process than that is 0% of your steal total. The Stat % takes all those percentages into consideration and averages them out.

+ %: The goal of +% is to show exactly how much slack a player gives you in a particular category to play with for the rest of the draft. So for instance, Ryan Howard is projected to hit 46 home runs. His 46 home runs is worth a +1.7333. What does that mean? That means effectively every remaining hitter you have can hit 1.7333 less homers than the average and you will still come out to the goal, 300. The opposite holds true for Howard and steals. He is projected to have 1 steal or a -0.849. That means that the rest of your roster needs to pick up almost an extra steal per person. At the end of the draft your goal would be to come as close to 0 in every category. Too positive in a category and you're overdoing it, too negative in a category and you're going to get hammered in it.

Weighted + %: The Weighted +% tries to bring all of the categories of the +% more closely aligned. So obviously a +1 in runs is not really worth the same as a +1 in home runs. They're are way more runs to go around than home runs, so the Weighted +% divides all categories by the goal #.

Now what are you waiting for. Get to the blowout.

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2009 Fantasy Baseball Blowout

You ready for a fantasy baseball blowout? I know you are. All posts today and possibly tomorrow will be related to fantasy baseball. So get ready for a ride. Posts start in a little bit and will consist of rankings, philosophies, favorites, etc. Fun stuff.

Fielder Rankings: Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Third Base, Shortstop, Outfield

Pitching Rankings: Starters, Relievers

Philosophies: Never Chase Wins, Search for the Comeback Kids

Mancrushes: Yovani Gallardo, Matt Cain

Fantasy Toss Ups: Speed vs. Power, Ellsbury vs. Victorino, Holliday vs. Hamilton, Lackey vs. Haren, Kershaw vs. Price, Lincecum vs. Johan, Upton vs. Maybin , Greinke vs. Gallardo

PhotoHunt

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A Self Pass to a Bicycle Kick

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Don't know if I've ever seen a guy chip it up to himself and then bury the bicycle kick.

H/T 101 Great Goals

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Lots of People Will Be Napping On Thanksgiving Afternoon

This psat Thanksgiving I woke up at around 8, 8:30, drove down to my buddies house and conducted beverage drinking games until around 1ish or so. Thus when I was done eating Turkey dinner I was plopped on the couch fully zonked out and possibly drooling on myself.

In 2009, the NFL wants to make sure you do the same exact thing, even if you don't have a case of beer in the AM. We all have just grown accustomed to the Lions shit show on Thanksgiving, they always suck and you really want the game to but it never is. But at the very least the NFL has the excuse of not breaking tradition for scheduling the Lions in the 12:30 game. The NFL however has absolutely positively no excuse for scheduling the Raiders to the play the Cowboys in the second game. You really really really want to make sure we watch shitty football on thanksgiving don't you NFL? The Raiders have been terrible for forever and there's zero sign of them breaking out this year.

Hooray for two miserable games on feast day. As of this moment I reserve my spot on the couch for Thanksgiving afternoon comatose.

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Why Don't We Just Take All the Hitting Out of the League Already

Yay for safety rules and elimating the physicality out of the NFL one step at a time. So much for highlight films of big hits. Here's a run down of the 4 rules they have put through over the past week.

The Bernard Pollard Rule

Everyone's calling it the Brady rule. Nonsense, name it after the hero. No longer when a defender is on the ground can they dive at the quarterback. So essentially being a defensive lineman and getting knocked to the ground is like the WedgeRats getting stabbed in their foam sword battles. It's time to play dead. The NFL will probably say something moronic like, well they can get up and then when they get back to their feet they can tackle the quarterback. How many times has Bob Kraft been on the ground trying to stand up when a 350 pound man is pushing him in the back? That's going to be completely wasted effort. One injury to a high profile Quarterback and we need to turn their knees into endangered species.

The Let's Try To Eliminate Kickoff Return Touchdowns Rule

Honestly I think this rule pisses me off the most. No longer can a kickoff return have a wedge blocking scheme. If you don't know what a wedge is then you don't watch much football, but I'll explain. It's like the flying V but for kick off returns. You get 3 or more blockers to form a V and blast through the defense and let the ball carrier follow behind the path of destruction. No longer. If three players are within two yards of each other shoulder to shoulder it will now be a 15 yard penalty. A 15 yard god damn penalty for blocking. For blocking!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhh, this rule is ridiculous. Let's just eliminate kickoffs completely. Skip the god damn commercial breaks and give the ball to each team at the 20s, cause if you can't have guys block within 2 yards of each other what the hell is the point?

The Keith Rivers Broken Jaw Rule

I'm ok with this one. Basically, Hines Ward blind side blocked Keith Rivers in the head and broke his jaw. Now it'll be flagged a 15 yarder. Basically when you blind side block a guy you can hit him in the chest and not the head. I'm ok with this rule although watching the Ward hit over and over again was pretty awesome.

The Let's Blow Up the Receiver Rule

I'm not really fervently against this rule either. Essentially when you go up against a defenseless receiver you can't hit him in the head anymore. Before you couldn't go helmet to helmet, now you can't go shoulder or forearm to helmet. Basically they don't want Wes Welker getting his head blasted off going over the middle on an incomplete pass again. I get it, you want to eliminate concussions but what if the dback goes for the chest and the receiver ducks and turns it into a head shot? Will that be a penalty as well? It just seems like the NFL is really shackling the Dbacks aggressiveness and definitely eliminating big hits.

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PhotoHunt: Yay Jazz Fan

It's PhotoHunt Time. Take a look at the pictures and see if you can figure where the 5 differences are. Click on the Image to get a larger view if needed. Then when you are done check out the answers linked below.

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2009 Fantasy Mancrush: Matt Cain

The fantasy mancrush tracks players that I am very high on and will target often in my drafts.

Today we're going with Matt Cain. And yes, I'm in love with the mid-tier pitcher.

Spring Stats

The Spring stats for Cain are also a little eh. 21.1 innings with an era of 6.33 and 20 Ks. Not exactly mowing them down, but it's spring and he's been around for 3+ seasons, I'm not worried.

Projections

Bill James: 13-11, 3.55 era, 213 innings, 192 Ks, 1.30 WHIP
CHONE: 11-10, 3.76 era, 189 innings, 166 Ks, 1.32 WHIP
ESPN: 11 wins, 3.65 era, 202 innings, 177 Ks, 1.31 WHIP
Sportsline: 10-13, 3.73 era, 210 innings, 190 Ks, 1.31 WHIP

Everybody says solid ERA, yay for Ks,, yay for workload, and boo for wins.

Rankings

ESPN: #133 Overall, #30 Starting Pitcher
Yahoo: #26 Starting Pitcher
Sportsline: #147 overall

Yahoo is slightly higher on Cain than everybody else, but the sentiment is that Cain is going to go in the 12th-15th round of your drafts.

Sum Up

Don't search or draft by wins. Matt Cain controls his controlables and is downgraded heavily for losing games. Yes his team's offense is highly highly suspect, but Tiny Tim won a shitload of games for them last year and it can be done by Cain. What you know you're getting is a solid ERA for a player available in the double digit rounds, a boatload of strikeouts, and a heavy workload. And that's just accepting that he won't make a leap in production. The kid is 24 and has been a beast in the big leagues for three seasons, don't let the crappy win totals the past two season frighten you. It's gonna turn around at some point.

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2009 CIT Quarterfinal Bracket Update

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


My bracket is fantastico. 3 out of 4 final four squads. My champ and runner-up still intact. Solid. ODU, James Madison and Pacific all cruised to easy victories on the evening while Bradley just needed to hit a tiny little jump shot to move on. And by tiny little jump shot, I mean this:



Well that's a solid way to win a basketball game. All in all the CIT is an infinitely better tournament than the CBI. The CBI is strictly a business proposition their to suck college programs of money without morals. The only reason the Oregon State Beavers are in their tournament is because the coaches brother-in-law is the president. Plus they had shitty St. John's in the tournament with their losing record. Meanwhile the CIT is an honest tournament. It's a tournament for the little guys. It's teams with winning records from smaller conferences most of whom coming from 1-bid conferences. It's a good way for the little guy to get a few more games in and feel good about the season. Plus, filling out a bracket with endless possibilities is enjoyable. All in all, good job by CollegeInsider.com for starting up a fun little postseason tournament. It doesn't matter that little to nobody cares about it, it makes sense and it works.

H/T AA on the video

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Japan Is Your World Baseball Classic Dominator

The WBC has come to an end for the second time and just like the first the Japanese are your world's best baseball team despite the Koreans best efforts. The Koreans down by two in the 8th inning fought back lead by Lee Bum-ho. In the 8th Bum-ho lied a double off the wall to lead off the inning and eventually scored on a sac fly. In the 9th Bum-ho singled in the tying run after Yu Darvish decided to avoid bats by striking out two and walking two. At the end of the night the hero was fittingly Ichiro. With two outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd Ichiro fought off pitch after pitch after pitch until eventually lined the ball up the middle two score the go-ahead runs. In the bottom of the 10th with the bottom of Korean lineup up, Darvish casually used his slider to dominate and clinch the Japanese second World Baseball classic in two attempts.

And now we go into random thought mode.

~TEAM ASIA DOMINATES!!!!!!!

~The Japanese may or may not be the best baseball team in the world but they have three top tier pitchers who all pitched well. America has some solid starters who didn't show up for the tournament but it's not like pitching Roy Oswalt should be a liability. Meanwhile, the Japanese got solid starts from Dice-K and Hisashi Iwakuma and had Darvish come out of the pen in back to back games.

~The Koreans were effectively a National League team. Solid to spectacular on defense. A solid but unspectacular middle of the order and slap hitting bitches at the bottom of the lineup.

~There are many issues with the World Baseball Classic, the biggest in my estimation is its live feel. In the vast majority of the games in the tournament the game did not have the feel of being an important game. The obvious reason for this is piss poor attendance. When you turn on a game and are watching it on television and see 15,000 people in the stands and half of the behind the plate seats empty, it doesn't scream this game is important get into it. Last night on the other hand did thanks to the Korean fans and their stupid thundersticks. The place was load, their was a solid atmosphere and it vastly increased the intensity and feel of the game.

~The first problem is most people aren't in the baseball mood right now. It's March Madness time. It's basketball time. It's not time for some new baseball tournament with some funky rules during Spring training. Americans just aren't into it enough right now.

~The second problem is the location of these games. The biggest baseball markets in America are in cold weather cities. But in March you can't hold games in NYC, Boston or Chicago so you have to hold them in Miami a place where they never ever show up for baseball games.

~So what needs to happen to take this tournament to the next level? Well it needs the best players around the world to play in the games. Each squad has all-stars but they certainly don't have the best of the best. No Johan. No CC. No Mariano. No Pujols. No Sizemore. And the list goes on and on. Players seemingly look for a reason to back out. Take Joe Nathan for instance. He was 'injured' or something. He's already thrown 6 innings in spring training. Chances are he wouldn't have even thrown that many innings in the WBC. Additionally as soon as someone gets a mild sprained ankle they pull out like a sissy girl (I'm looking at you Shrek and Doucheroia).

~The World Baseball Classic absolutely positively makes the most sense during the an elongated all star break. Every 4 years take 2 weeks off and shove the games in that time frame. Players are in midseason form, players that are unhealthy would get extra time to heal, Americans are in the baseball mood, and you can showcase the games in the greatest stadiums in America (Wrigley, Fenway, Yankee Stadium). Too bad MLB will never fly with that idea, it would make this tournament infinitely more relevant and popular. Alas, they seem to be content with showing it in March to rabid baseball fans like myself, Latinos and Team Asia.

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2009 Fantasy Mancrush: Yovani Gallardo

The fantasy mancrush tracks players that I am very high on and will target often in my drafts.

First up is man crush numero uno, Yovani Gallardo. The Mexican K wonder is back and ready to make up for his fantasy groin kick in 2008 when he blew out his ACL and dashed your hopes for a consistent ace.

Spring Stats

The Spring stats for Gallardo are a little eh. 18.2 innings thus far giving up 11 runs while striking out 16. Obviously spring stats can be read into a little too much but it would be nice if he would throw in a quality start or two over the final weeks to make you feel a bit more comfortable.

Projections

Bill James: 13-9, 3.99 era, 196 innings, 201 Ks, 1.30 WHIP
CHONE: 7-5, 3.50 era, 108 innings, 112 Ks, 1.25 WHIP
ESPN: 15 wins, 3.40 era, 193 innings, 187 Ks, 1.26 WHIP
Sportsline: 12-7, 3.36 era, 182 innings, 166 Ks, 1.34 WHIP

The projections are ranging. The things with the Chone projections is that it always seems to think people who were injured last year will be injured this year, I think that's a kink in the formula. James has the Ks elite and the ERA so so whereas Sportsline and ESPN have the ERA elite and the Ks of varying greatness. The win totals are always something to throw up in the air but personally I think the Brew Crew have a solid offense especially if Rickie Weeks can come anywhere near approaching the .304 he's currently hitting in spring (highly doubtful but one could hope, especially one that might target him as well).

Rankings

ESPN: #86 Overall, #18 Starting Pitcher
Yahoo: #28 Starting Pitcher
Sportsline: #135 overall

As you can see there is a massively varying take on Yovani's value. At #86 I would contemplate drafting him but be a bit gun shy. At #135 I'd be jumping off my seat in joy.

Sum Up

I heart Yovani. The Ks will be elite and the ERA will hover around 3.50 which is solid as well. His health is not in question as his injury was via freak collision and to his knee not his arm, so don't be scared off by that. In the end your hope with Yovani, as well as all pitchers for that matter, will be his run support in his quest for wins. The kid has nasty stuff, now go draft him.

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PhotoHunt: Hansbrough Gets an Eye Full

It's PhotoHunt Time. Take a look at the pictures and see if you can figure where the 5 differences are. Click on the Image to get a larger view if needed. Then when you are done check out the answers linked below.

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2009 CBI Quarterfinal Results


This bracket was a debacle. I doubt the Beavers and now after their easy victory by 1 point in overtime over the Catamounts of Vermont they get to host my pick for champion of the universe Stanford. The Cardinal dispatched the Shockers on the road by 14. UTEP dumped Northeastern with relative ease at home and for their troubles they get the deadly Richmond Spiders who knocked off Charleston by 2.

But forget my embarassing bracket for a second and let's just contemplate the audacity of this tournament in which you pay 60,000 dollars to host a game. Stanford went 18-13 in the regular season meanwhile Wichita St. went 16-16 in a worse conference, yet the Cardinal had to go to Wichita to play? Even after two wins in the tournament the Beavers are still just 15-17. That's right they were 13-17 and still got invited to play in a postseason tournament, that's what you get when your brother in-law can make fun of special needs kids on a latenight show. So they are 15-17 currently and the Cardinal are 20-13 currently, yet the Beavers are hosting the semifinal game.

Essentially this tournament is built to not be taken seriously. Thanks Gazelle Group.

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2009 NIT Round 2 Summary


And boom goes me bracket. I went 6 for 8 in round 2 but lost the big one. On saturday early in the AM, the Baylor Bears went into Blacksburg and whiped the floor with the Hokies 18 points and I officially lost any chance of winning my NIT bracket of one. In other games the Gators punded rival Floridians Miami. Stephen Curry's season is over as they got thumped by St. Mary's. The Kentucky Wildcats staved off Billie G's firing for another day as Creighton missed a game winning three in the closing seconds. The Fighting Irish snuck by New Mexico in the closing seconds. Penn St., San Diego St., and Auburn all advanced comfortably to the 2nd round.

The ole quarterfinals start tonight with Baylor at Auburn and Penn St. at Florida. Then on Wednesday St. Mary's goes to San Diego St.

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Sometimes Defense Is Hard: Tennessee Should Practice Pick and Roll D

Monday, March 23, 2009

One trend I noticed over the first weekend of NCAA play is that sometimes in the big spot the opposing defense let's you get easy buckets. Sometimes Defense Is Hard breaks down some of those occasions.

The Scenario: Tennessee goes up 1 and now has to stop OK St. on the Cowboys final possession.

Here Comes the High Pick and Roll

At this point time it's pretty obvious that this pick and roll isn't going to lead anywhere. He's headed towards the sideline and baseline and would have to take a long route to the hoop. It almost makes no sense that they would set a screen in that direction.

Force The Player to the Lane?

Instead of letting him take the screen to nowhere land, or at the very least having one defender hedge the screen, both Tennessee players hedge. This basically forces Eaton to crossover and head towards the paint. Exactly where he wanted to go the whole time.

And Now the Help D is Needed

The on ball defender is now completely toast and it's up to help defense. The defender of the screener is now closest to Eaton but he's obviously a step behind thanks to hedging the screen. The remainder of the defenders are spread out on their players who are all chilling at the 3-point line. But you've got a guy with a step heading to the lane, it's time to collapse and force someone to make a jump shot.

And Nobody Helps

Nobody gets off their guy. All of the Tennessee players outside of Tyler Smith are stuck watching Eaton drive the lane, leaving it all on Smith's shoulder to get a defensive stop. A defensive stop he needs to get while completely out of position.

And Now Time To Foul Lightly

Out of position and a step behind your options are three-fold. 1) Foul the shit out of him and hope he misses the free throw. 2) Just let him score the layup and avoid the foul. 3) Attempt to defend the shot but because you are out of position you are 90% likely to foul but not foul hard enough to completely deter the shot attempt. Smith chose option #3.

And This How You Lose

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PhotoHunt: Blake Griffin Enjoys Zack Novak's D

It's PhotoHunt Time. Take a look at the pictures and see if you can figure where the 5 differences are. Click on the Image to get a larger view if needed. Then when you are done check out the answers linked below.

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Obama's Bracket Needs a Bailout


Man makes funny sign + Duke Fan = Still a Tool

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2009 NCAA Tournament Week 1 Roundup

~Adios Cinderella, all of the little boys and gals have been put to bed. And if anyone claims Arizona is a Cinderella they should be slapped in the mouth.

~How Chalklity is the bracket? A couple of upsets in day 2. A 12 seed in the sweet 16. But really when someone tells you they have the entire sweet 16 it's not surprising. It's just umm, so you went with Arizona, good for you.

~Of the #1 seeds Pitt, Louisville and UNC were challenged while UConn dominated. Of all the 1 seeds I still think that UConn is most likely to go down in the next round. Followed by Pitt. I feel as if Purdue is one of those teams that can get lights out from beyond the arc and beat anybody, will they do it against UConn? Probably not, but its possible. In all likelihood the Chalklity bracket will let the 4 1 seeds move on.

~The Wolverines fought well against Oklahoma but were completely done in by foul trouble to both Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims. The fact that they were able to stay in the game for so damn long without their two best player doing much of anything and Harris sitting on the bench forever in the first half makes me think that Oklahoma isn't very long for this tournament. Sure Blake Griffin is a beast and had 33-17 (fell short of the 30-20 I predicted), but the rest of the team is suspect. Their jump shooting is particularly fantastic and they'll find it difficult covering all of Cuse's jump shooters. Additionally, Cuse has several big bodies to throw at Griffin in succession. Essentially I think the Sooners go down in the next game and Cuse moves on. As for Michigan I hope Sims and Harris decide to stick around for next year and that some of their in coming recruits don't suck.

~Of the other 2 seeds, Duke snuck by in helping hand to an absolute lame call at the end of the game. Two kids going for the ball that Scheyer tossed to the other end of the court, the kid from Texas extends his arm and the jackass from Duke pulls a Brazilian soccer player and gets the foul call. I hate Duke. Michigan St. held off the Trojans at the end after the game was tight throughout while Memphis embarrassed Maryland.

~Speaking of the ACC, they obviously can't be very pleased by their 5-5 showing. Especially when Duke gets bumped by Nova in the next round. Of all the losses the Wake Forest complete no show was the worst of all the bunch.

~The Big East Dominates. 5 Sweet 16 teams is a record and proves the strength of their league this year.

~The poor jackass from Marquette that stepped over the endline must feel great about himself today.

~Speaking of Marquette, I'm glad Dominic James was able to get on the court in his final collegiate game. Too bad it ended in a loss.

~Wisconsin is the universe's most boring team. Thank god they switched coverage off of that Xavier 'Sconsin slop fest in my local market.

~My bracket is mediocre and shall not be winning anything.

~I feel as if this tournament has been just ok so far. There have been a couple solid finishes but nothing incredibly memorable. The Cinderella getting its shit pounded in doesn't really help. What I do think it leads to is the potential for great games this coming weekends.

~In the end of the Sweet 16 I think we get all four 1 seeds, two 2 seeds and two 3 seeds. I think Oklahoma gets bounced and then one of the other twos. The order of likelihood of defeat is Duke then Michigan St. then Memphis. And I still feel like my final four of Pitt, Louisville, UNC and Memphis is gonna pan out.

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Sometimes Defense Is Hard: WKU Gives Away An Easy Bucket

One trend I noticed over the first weekend of NCAA play is that sometimes in the big spot the opposing defense let's you get easy buckets. Sometimes Defense Is Hard breaks down some of those occasions.

The Scenario: Western Kentucky makes a bucket with 7+ seconds to go to tie the game.

Someone Pressure the Ball

This is only a mild mistake. One theory is that you want to get back and set up your half court D, the other is that by pressuring the ball on the inbound you can waste more time. They only have 7 seconds to shoot, every second wasted makes it harder to get off a good shot, so I'm obviously on board with pressure there.

No Seriously Someone Pressure the Ball

Western Kentucky opts to continue not to pressure the ball letting the Demetri Goodson get the ball to half court in a just over a second and a half. Again this isn't the end of the world if you set up your half court defense.

I Guess Now's the Time to Guard Him

And this is the beginning of the end. Orlando Mendez-Valdez begins to guard Goodson but he's immediately in a shitty position. Guarding a faster player who is going full speed while you are tucked in his side pocket. Mendez-Valdez is toast at this point.

Your Guard Is Burnt How About Some Help D

At this point it should be blatantly obvious to every Western Kentucky player that Mendez-Valdez is burnt to a crisp. So it's time for some help D and a collapse on Goodson. There's only 3.8 seconds left. Play some D.

Waving At the Ball Doesn't Qualify

Ahhhhhh, that's not help D. You just did a faint hand wave at the ball. What the hell is that going to D?

Ah Shit, Who's Guarding Him

Oh shit, 1 Gonzaga player with a boatload of space. Umm, where's the defense gonna come from now? Obviously the two guys in the paint are the only ones who have any chance at contesting the shot.

Should I Jump And Contest the Shot? Probably Not

And so one guy manages to get there but instead of contesting the shot and risking a foul he just let's him get away the easy look. Bucket. Game Over. Nice Seeing You in the 2nd Round. Have a safe trip back to Kentucky.

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