Tag Archives: baseball

Sporting Smorgy Weekend Update

This is one of my favorite weekends of year. College sports smorgasbord between basketball and hockey. In past years this was the big WCHA (Western Colligate Hockey Association) championship weekend. Figure 14,000 college (mostly Minnesota Gopher) fans packed into the arena for four games over three days. Now that the Big 10 has broken up the WCHA they’ll be no more of that. Instead I headed over to see the remnants of the league in the new NCHC at the Target center. 

Sad state of affairs. We went to two games on Friday, the first game University of Denver vs. Western Michigan was pretty sad. About 1000 people in the Target Center. Second game North Dakota vs. Miami was much better from an attendance and energy standpoint. But by no means a sell out. 

 

Somehow among all the hockey I found time to watch about 10 hours of basketball this weekend as well. I’m kinda thinking that this years version of the NCAA tournament is about as good as any I’ve ever experienced, and that goes back to the Hank Gathers/Bo Kimble/ Loyola Marymount year. 

I know this tournament is all about the upsets but man this is redonkulous. Makes me wish I had gone to Vegas this weekend with the rest of the dudes my age who like to hang out in sports book and take a deeper ownership in games if you know what I mean. 

Apparently a friend of mine had Mercer and the points in that game and there were a lot of them, Duke were -14 favorites. I’m curious what the money line was on that deal, that would have probably been an interesting payout. 

If you know what I’m saying. 

 

Because I couldn’t get enough sports with basketball and hockey I also conducted my annual Fantasy Baseball Draft, 2014 edition. 

Lets be perfectly honest here people. When it comes to fantasy baseball my efforts could largely be described as “futiule”. Think of the Cubs, I try not because I hate that team. I’ve been the league comish for the last 12 years or so, and in that time I’ve ended the season no better than 4th from the bottom. This year, I’m committed to changing my teams fortune. I had a meeting with the staff earlier this month and we made the following changes that I believe position us for unprecedented success. 

And success I believe requires some luck. Just ask any of the star players in their contract years, meaning at the end of the season of they were going to renegotiate their contracts/become free agents. Typically players tend to have great years when money is on the line. Shocking I know. 

Here’s the changes

Name change. After 12 years as the Apple Valley Bombers, which is also the name of the organizations football team, we’ve change mojo by becoming Los Duchez. Nice ring to it and is kinda snarky. Feel the luck changing already. 

Since they tell me that luck is 995 hard work we tried something new this year and “prepared”. Meaning we did some research and come up with a system that ranked what I thought were the top 250 MLB players. Inluded some flyer types like Jose Abreu the Cuban defector who will be watching 1B for the Whities this season. If he’s anything like the last two Cubans who came over, Yasil Puig and Yoenis Cespedes he’s worth looking at even with his zero point zero stats. 

Committed to the following strategy- STICK TO THE PLAN. Typically I get into the draft and about round 4 start overthinking. I hit some panic button and start grabbing guys with big numbers because I want stolen bases or saves or some lame stat and it all goes to hell. I committed this year that I wouldn’t do that. 

And finally bring the guy I wanted to the draft. This year that guy would be Angels extraordinary outfielder, the Millville Meteor Michael “Mike” Nelson Trout. Aside from being named after one of my favorite fish he’s also a statistical monster and quite possible the best player the game today. Even better than Andrew McCutchen who might be my favorite player in the game today. Kinda have a man crush on Cutch. Anyway 

 

I happen to own a Trout rookie card and brought it to the draft. Note that Trout is a unanimous #1 pick in almost every tout sheet I’ve read. So to get him I’d have to have the number one pick. Something that’s happened never in my experience. I figured a little luck charm couldn’t hurt. 

Well guess what, it worked. The draft oder is randomly picked by the computer and for the first time I came out on top. Mike and I are going to get along fine. 

I mostly stuck to the plan. About round 8 I started panicking about my starting pitching and left the cheat sheet, grabbing Matt Harvey. He wasn’t on my list, but he was available and those 919K’s looked good. 

The silence after the pick, followed by a snicker and a “do you ever prep for these?” belayed a problem. Turns out Matt Harvey had Tommy John surgery over the offseason and at the moment is toss the ball 60 feet in sets of 10 pitches. He’s due back, if rehab goes well, in late September, more realistically he’ll be around for the 2015 season. 

Serves me right for not following the plan. 

Lucky one other guy drafted Kris Meldon, he’s scheduled for Tommy John surgery Tuesday.

 

So all in all a good weekend from my perspective.

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ADD- How I recap 140 characters in only 480 words

First of all The Marlins Logan Morrison write what has to be the greatest Tweet of the 2013 baseall season in response to the Ryan Braun suspension for performance enhancing drugs.

In case you’re not a baseball fan the Marlins, and I’m not really exaggerating here, are putting together what maybe the worst season for a ball club in Major League history. We’re talking St. Louis Browns bad. We’re talking Washington Senators bad. BTW, First in war, first in peace and last in American League. That was the old saying the traditionally horrible Washington Senators.

BTW, among Major League Baseball’s horrible record on racism- Senators owner Calvin Griffith who installed segregated seating at Washington’s Griffith Stadium because “the colored preachers asked me for it”. He moved the Senators from Washington to Minnesota in 1960. In a famous speech to the Waseca Lions Club he made the following outrageous comment

“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ballgames, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking white people here.”

And his statue is in front of the of the Twins Stadium. I think I KKK hood would look good on it, but who am I to say..

Shiny objects….

Back the the Marlins and Logan Morrison’s tweet.

Again, baseball fans know this but for the rest of you Milwaukee Brewers star has broken the hearts of Cheese Nation by admitting to using performance enhancing drugs. He’s been suspended for the remainder of the season. Sad thing the it’s also cut the number of Jewish ball players in the Majors by 50%.

Jewish sports stars is a pretty short list. I think it’s why Jews don’t get the fuss about certain sports names because we’re dying the be thought of as a tough people you’d want to name a sports team after. Fighting Hebrews sounds good. “Hebs” for short.

Gawd that ADD is such a curse.

They say ADD is not contagious. Anyone who sat in the all day meetings for the last two weeks, they’d know. They all caught it from me, you should have seen what happened when we attempted to play with the a video feed.

Not enough Ritalin in the Wal-Mart Pharmacy for that meeting.

Where was I? Oh yeah, greatest Tweet of all time,

Marlin’s Logan Morrison “You know we’re clean, we haven’t scored a run in 37 innings,” 

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The Fantasy of Baseball

Baseball is in the air again.

Despite the ice and snow and the NBA this is the time when I start thinking about baseball again. Fantasy baseball, good summer fun. Kinda.

I realized a long time ago that winning the lottery just isn’t the cards for me. Nor is making money in real estate, the stock market, or anything other kind of investments including fantasy baseball. My fantasy baseball record, lifetime now, is 0-17. My teams tend to finish in the bottom third of every league, usually right above the guys who setup their teams and never revisit them again for the rest of the year. Actually, a couple years ago one of those “never revisit the team” guys came in second, goes to show you. How a guy can win a game that requires minimum weekly attention much less daily befuddles me. I wonder if he buys lottery tickets.

My typical fantasy season goes something like this;

  • 2 weeks of pre-draft research as I dig into stats and discussion of every player in Major League Baseball. This is the most fun for me BTW. Also the most expensive as I usually purchase a couple different $10.00 magazines for my reading pleasure.
  • Create my cheat sheets of players, ranked by performance, morals and how much I like them or not like them depending on the player.
  • Eliminate all Dodgers and Red Sox from my list. Actually I don’t eliminate them per se anymore since this might be one of the reasons for my poor performance. But I rarely pick a player from either team because I hate them. Strong word hate.
  • Participate in a “mock” draft to see how my picks might work out.
  • Participate in the real draft. That’s highlight of the season for me.
  • Get my team and congratulate myself on my excellent draft strategy.
  • Season starts, I zoom to the top of the charts and typically lead the league for the first month or so.
  • Watch the injury reports come rolling in while the team sinks like rock.

I believe that I could make a few bucks by contact players in their contract years and making the following blackmail like proposition. For the sum of $11.75 I promise I will not draft you this season and thereby will save you from the going on the DL in your contract year. I can produce a list of players who have been subject to the Sank-a-Curse, maybe a brochure about what kind of injuries guys I pick incur; torn ACL’s, rotator cuff, the dreaded sports hernia, or even worse a California 50/50 Divorce.

If Tommy John has a surgery named after him, I should be honored with anterior capsule repair, aka shoulder surgery. Ask Johan Santana about that.

So we’re off and running on a new fantasy baseball season. I have no expectations. I’ll do my study, work on my team, make my picks and watch them fall to every injury a baseball player can get. And along the way I’ll have a great time.

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The Distraction of Baseball

It’s hard to find time to write with all the great distractions of the baseball post-season. My beloved San Francisco Giants  have survived no less than 6 elimination games this year to make it the their 2 World Series in three years. This whole post season has been outstanding. Mostly because all my favorite teams were in the post season; A’s, Yankees, Cardinals and the Giants.

Two years ago I wrote a piece about the Giants and a love affair I’ve had with them since I was 10 years old.

You can read it here: A Giant Love Affair

And now I find myself once again watching the G-Men in the World Series.

It’s a great time of year, the baseball playoffs, even sweeter when it’s your team out there.

Earlier this post season I put a Giants flag up on the front of the house. Promised my wife I’d take it down when the Giants were done. So far the boys have faced elimination 6 times this post season. When they were down three games to one to the Cardinals I was pretty sure it was coming down that day. Nope. Still up there.

And it might who knows.  I have a 2010 Giants World Series Champions T-Shirt I wore the night the Giants started their comeback against the Cardinals. It started a rally. I’ve been wearing the shirt, every game, unwashed, ever since. We baseball fans are a superstitious lot, and as they say about superstition; “it only works when it doesn’t”. Now normally I wouldn’t buy into foolishness like this. Take horoscopes, my Mother used to be a big believer that chunks of rock and gasses millions of miles away influenced her day to day actions. I can’t imagine how she could buy into something as ridiculous as that. It’s not real, like wearing a stinky old shirt, that’s something concrete and the results are proven, the boys have never lost when I’ve been wearing it.

I don’t know, there’s something about October baseball; tension, a well timed rally, a 9th inning, 2 out rally..

So much goodness, even better, I haven’t paid a minutes worth of attention to the election this year. Even better.

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The Greatest Season Evah!

Today was the last game of the 2012 baseball season. The regular season anyway. Old Mr. Sank is relishing in the glory of what is, from my perspective, the greatest season of baseball of my life. And, what will prove to be, the greatest post-season of baseball evah.

Just in case you were asleep a the wheel-

- The Giants won the National League West in fine fashion. A win made sweeter by the way they did it, they eliminated hated Los Angeles Dodgers. I have two things to say about this feat.

What’s the difference between a Dodger Dog and Giants Dog? You can buy a Giants hotdog in October.

and

From my cyber-pal Michael Rankins at Swan Shadow; Hope Magic Johnson and the Dodgers organization saved some money after all those free agent signings, they’ll need it to buy playoff tickets.

That would have been enough but no, there’s more.

- The Yankees finished with the best record in the American League. Love me some pinstripes in October. And though the the rise of the Orioles was one of the great stories of the year, I’m still a Yankees fan at heart.

- The Giants beating the Dodgers and sending them on Winter Break early means that the beloved Cardinals will be playing in October. I’m no Cardinal fan but the Wife and her family are, big time. And I’ve said it before, you simply have to respect the Redbirds, and the greatest baseball town in the country. The Cards made it to the post season without Big Al or Lance Berkman. Even sweeter for them, Big Al will have to buy a ticket for October baseball.

- The A’s. What can I say about the A’s. Money Ball II. A team that I wrote off back in May, for one thing I couldn’t name a single player except Bartolo Colon, and only him because he’s older than I am. A team that was terrible early on, but just like the Money Ball season managed to scrape and win and do the right things and boom. Hottest team in the league after the All Star break. Two weeks ago they were still 5 games back and it looked like if they were lucky and if played well, they might make the wildcard, ‘cause everyone and his mama knew the Rangers would win the division.

Hmm. Even Monday, but this is baseball and you the chase was on, the A’s kept winning and the gap kept getting smaller and by Monday this week it was down to 2 games back and the Rangers were coming to town to close the season. The Rangers needed to win just one game to win the division. The A’s were in sole possession of first place for only one day this year. The last day of the season, the one that matters.

Boy would I hate to be a Rangers fan. Hard luck for the third year in a row.

I can’t get over it. Here comes the post season and I’m going to be one conflicted baseball fan.

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You’re NOT Special and this is Little League

You ARE special.

I saw that grad speech, the one that’s in vogue at the moment where we tell a bunch a snotnosed high school seniors that after 18 years of coddling, helicopter parenting, hollow affirmations and no loser sporting events, after a life time of this they need to understand that they are in fact, NOT SPECIAL.

Gawdamnit, I’ve been telling my yoots for most of their lives that they’re special. As in “aren’t you special”, or “He ain’t right, he’s special”.

I digress.

When I was at the Indy racetrack a couple months ago the guide dude told us a story about when F1 came to Indianapolis. In F1, at the end of the race, you have a podium where the First, Second and Third place drivers are recognized. In Indy Car racing, as well as NASCAR you only have one winner. Second place is the first place looser as they say. AJ Foyt, famous driver and team owner made the comment “Second place trophy? Hell you come in second I don’t wanna see you on a podium, I wanna see you in your garage kicking ass trying to figure out what went wrong.”

Amen.

Which reminds me for some reason of T-Ball.

I’m well past attending T-Ball games thank goodness. And little league.

T-Ball.

I still remember preparing for my first T-Ball game with my kid who at that time, was at least as good as Dimaggio was at his age.

Like any activity worth doing you have to start with a list. T-Ball Parenting is no different:

 

  • Hat-Check
  • Lawn Chair- Check
  • Sunglasses- Check
  • Water bottle- Check
  • Sunscreen- Check
  • iPod- Check
  • Book- Check
  • Ask the wife if the kid has everything he needs- Double Check Note that this usually starts a conversation about why I only worry about myself and the other parent has to worry about everything else. But since we have this same conversation every time we travel, I’m used to it.

Ready to go. And off we go, to the ball field. Love me a diamond, it’s perfect symmetry.. well there’s no symmetry in T-Ball fields, more of a dirt infield and an outfield of shitty crabgrass typical of a school yard. Every school yard I’ve ever been on is uneven to the point of turned ankles being a very real danger for old dudes who aren’t limber anymore and every field has those shitty little yellow flower plants with the little green cones that smell weird. We had them in California and we have them in Minnesota. I don’t know what they’re called but I hate them.

List accomplished.

Good enough anyway. Off to the field where I unload the car, carry all my stuff to a good spot, usually somewhere down the first base line, drop my chair, don the hat, insert the ear plugs, point the kid towards the mob of other kids wearing his color shirt, settle in.. lessee where was I… zzzzzzzz

I have the sense that someone is watching me.. l look up to see the coach of this mess waving us over. Gawddamnit… where that damn kid go, probably picking those stupid flowers, I look around, at least as far as I can without getting up from my lounge chair, where the hell… oh wait he’s over there. With the team. I wave and go back to my book.

Again with the feeling. Looking up, this time I see the kid, right in front of me. “You gotta reason for be’in?” I ask. A common question in my house. “Coach says you’re ‘posed’ta go over there” and he points to the mob of kids and parents. Shit, I hope we’re not doing one of those stupid tunnels where the parents hold hands and the kids run under it. Hate that.

I saunter over, leaving my book lying open on the chair, I’ll be right back.

“Gary” coach says.. “I need all the parents to participate with the team, we’re all Green Giants RIGHT KIDS!”. Screams of yeah and high fives and I’m standing there looking like I’m short-changed waiter in a strip bar. WTF?

“Sorry?” I ask, legitimately confused.

“Gary, the parents get to participate in this experience, we’re not just spectators here” he said with a smile. “Hands in, parents too, YEAH KIDS. GA-REEEEN GIANTS.”

This, is crazy. And I’m even more confused as to what Mr. Happy wants me to do, and BTW, when I get home we’re running some background checks on this positive douche.

I had this overwhelming feeling of dread as I realized that my opportunity to get an hour of free babysitting in was fast evaporating. Clearly Coach and I were not in “sync” from an expectations standpoint. My expectations were an hour off. “Um” I stammered, “so do you need help coaching or something? I don’t get it?”

“Gary”.. I interrupted, “you can call me Mr. Sankary or Eric’s Dad”.. “Ok, Mr Sankary, the parents will take the field with their kids, stand with them in position, run the bases with them when they hit, that sort of thing. Only thing is I have to ask that you don’t coach your kids, just be with them out there. Makes it more fun for everyone.”

“Not for me.”

“sorry?” he asked, pretending not to hear.

“This doesn’t sound fun for me. I was going to read a book, listen to my iPod, I have alarms set up so every 11 minutes I’m reminded to look up and yell ‘Go KID, and what your suggesting is killing my buzz dude.”

Crickets.

Lady behind me “I was kinda planning to sit on the side and watch too, I have a bad ankle.”

“I wanted to drop mine off, if I knew I was going to run the bases I would have worn something other than hooker boots.”

The coach was perplexed. I saved the day for him, “Coach” I said, with Christian love in my heart, “as much I would love to run the bases with my kid, fact is you don’t have a batting helmet my size in that bag and you know, I wouldn’t feel safe out there..”

Finally something that resonated with him. “True” he replied, “I hadn’t thought of that”. And thus I moved T-Ball from my responsibility to Mrs S’s responsibility. To which she came back from and remarked “Do you know what these idiots wanted the parents to do?”

Heh.

Fast forward three years.

Little League T-Ball has matured to Kid Pitch. First year of kid pitch baseball.

I thought T-Ball was bad.

Rule 1- Any kid who wants to pitch will be given the opportunity to pitch a complete game. All kids will pitch at least a half game, even those who never wanted to pitch in the first place, in some cases because they suck at it.

Rule 2- Games are 6 innings OR two hours long. Based on rule 1, just say two hours and save me from hope.

Here’s my suggestion after observing about three games. Three games that went 3 innings in 2 hours.

Sank’s Proposed Rule #3- If the pitch is more than 6 feet outside the strike zone OR hits the dirt on the way to the batter more than once on the same pitch, can we call it 2 balls?

Sanks Proposed amendment to Rule #3- Can we call it an inning when an entire line up has been walked in the same inning?

Would certainly move things along.

My input was not solicited so kept my great ideas to myself.

And the games went on and on and on and on and finally, when the kid was about 13 it got pretty good. We had kids pitching who wanted to pitch and who were able to pitch and my kid was a first baseman and clean up batter. It was finally worth looking up from my book for a few minutes to see what was going on on the field.

 

We also had a hockey player in the house, a goalie of all things. He was special too. Goalies aren’t right on many levels, it’s a whole different parenting experience.

I’ll expound later but let me leave with this observation of the life of the Goalie parent. Where you can’t ignore what’s going on on the ice because every time your kid gives up goal people look at you like you’re a raging alcoholic. Like they can see into my very soul.

And that’s because:

When the Goalie kid screws up on the ice, they stop the damned game.

Every stink’n time.

Ponder that Beeatches.

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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Congrats Jeter and congrats Lopez

Happy day my world, one of my favorite baseball players has entered the 3,000 hit club. I’ve been a Yankee fan since the days Reggie Jackson was hitting homeruns against the Dodgers in the World Series back in the 70’s. Derek joins a rather exclusive group of baseball players, only 28 players in history have been able to mark this achievement.

And he did it dramatic fashion, home run to left field.

That’s were the story gets even better. Enter Christian Lopez, a 23 year old customer service rep for a Jersey phone company. Lopez, sitting in seats that his birthday present from his girlfriend suddenly found himself in possession of baseball history, Jeter’s baseball.

What would you do if you were lucky enough to find yourself in possession of piece of sports memorabilia like this? Lots of folks would either bribe Jeter to get it back or maybe put it on Ebay. Minimum would be several thousand dollars, probably waaay more than that. Christian however, when asked what he wanted for the ball “a chance to meet Jeter”. That’s it, and “Mr. Jeter deserved this, it’s all his”.

The Yankees rewarded Christian with box seats for the rest of the 2011 season and a set of behind the plate seats for Sunday’s game. Unfortunately he can’t use them, “I have to work on Sunday”.

Good for Derek Jeter and good for Christian, nice to see greed set aside for once.

 

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Eat’n With The Fat Man, with a side of Idiot

 Here’s why I keep up this blog thing in the face of declining readership, angry family, bad writing and poor reviews.

Monday night I had the distinct pleasure of meeting yet another blog personality; Mark, the writer and creative department over at The Idiot Speaketh. The Idiot Speaketh is a hilarious piece of work that was recommended to me by yet another blogger friend, Eric over at Eric Has Issues. Alas E.H.I. is no longer active, but his online introduction to Mark, aka the Idiot was a great one, we have some very similar tastes in humor and women. Mark and son are currently on their annual summer baseball tour which this year included the Twin Cities. Mark (I can’t call a guy an idiot who is anything but) reached out a few weeks ago and let me know he was going to be coming and asked about a ball game and dinner.

I was stoked to think that I’d get another Face to Face meet. Just so you know, at the Bat Mitzvah there was an entire table of people I met through this blog, or rather through lazylightning.org, details.

Figuring that Mark and kiddo had had a decent tour of swanky Minneapolis and probably Grand Ave in St. Paul I figured what could be better than a trip to the culinary capital of the Twin Cities Hamburger scene, The Nook.

Bill over at Lazylightning, by coincidence or maybe by reading my blog notes while bored at the daughters Bat Mitzvah a few weeks ago just scooped me on a Nook review, and since he writes a helluva lot better than I do, you can go read the review there.

When we got to the Nook we were seated in the bowling ally below the restaurant, the old Ran-Ham lanes, one of the Twin Cities low-brow gems. And you KNOW how much I love me some low-brow. Ran-Ham is 5 lanes of OOOOOLD School bowling pleasure. The décor and equipment haven’t changed in 60+ years. No computerized scoring down there, just a few lanes, some cup holders, and one of the coolest beer bars in town.

Turns out the bowling alley is now owned by the Nook, which is directly upstairs. A pairing this good hasn’t been made since back in 1985 when I met my first wife, the current Mrs. Sankary at the alter in Saratoga California. Rumor is they’re still finding the occasional pieces of tuxedo and ripped up parking tickets in the redwood forest 26 years later.

Mark and son met us in the bowling ally for dinner. You sort of never know exactly how these first meetings with people you only know online are going to go, but I’m very happy to say we all seemed to hit it off right after “hello”. Turns out he was just as nervous about meeting a serial killer as I was.

Dinner was up to the usual high Nook standards. Juicy Lucy for my kids and the visitors. Rave reviews. I had the hamburgesa, and will reiterate that the “new” Nook (they had a big fire there a few months ago and just re-opened) are just as good as I remember. Fries and onion rings, worth the future angioplasty.

We had a great conversation with or new friends about their trip, the twin cities, my connection to Ft. Worth Texas, where they live, hot weather, long drives and the Dallas Mavericks. It was a most pleasant evening.

After dinner we headed over to Midway stadium for one of my other favorite low-brow entertainment options, The St. Paul Saints. Old Sank is a big Saints fan despite being able to rarely name one of the lads, and since this was the first game of the season, I was blanked. I was a little sad to see that Saints attendance seems to have dropped off a bit over the years, but then again a Monday night is a tough sell. Pitching in the independent minor leagues is uh.. well lets just say that while the boys can bring it, sometimes into the 90’s, what separates these guys from Major League pitching- CONTROL.

But lack of control can mean more hitting and we got to see a very exciting 4 run 2 out rally in the 3rd inning, with lots of errors, forced by aggressive base running. It was quite fun. Highlight of the game, when Eric one a burrito supreme by texting something before a opposing player struck out. Love minors.

The game and the company were a blast UNITL-

Daughter.

Claimed to have a stomach ache. I’ve seen this before, play the sick card when she doesn’t want to be somewhere. I was ignoring her, and here three trips to the bathroom when Mrs S intervened on her behalf. “Do you think you could get a ride with Mark to the hotel and I’ll pick you up there.”  I negotiated one more inning so we could catch another Saints at bat and watch the karaoke by a “real Japanese guy” thing they do there. Saints went down in order, but the Japanese guy sang a very interesting version of a Back Street Boys song.

By then it was 9:30ish. Down side is after a two and half hours the game was only in the 5th inning. This was going to be a late night. This time of year I get a little thrown off in my time estimates because it’s still light out at 9:30. So, we made our goodbyes and headed home after a great evening. The Daughter was later found eating a Good Humor Bar in her room, which put me about as over edge and explained the concept of selfish, faking and bullshit to her in one line. Which, of course brought on the waterworks and yet another intervention from Mrs S.

This morning I read in the paper that the Saints carried their lead into the 9th inning where their relievers gave up like 7 runs and the wound up losing 7-9 or something. Maybe I was glad I missed that.

This morning Mrs S and the kids headed to the Lake for a few days R&R, so I will be enjoying a quiet house this week.

Mark, if you read this, come back and see us real soon and drive safe, it was a pleasure.

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Futility in fantasies

Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I, am stupid. Doubt me? Ask my wife. She might temper the characterization by simply calling me “dumb”.

She’s loving that way.

Sooo, once again the rite of spring, I start researching like a fool, buy myself a magazine or two, download stats for over 650 different players and begin the arduous task of setting up my Fantasy Baseball Team(s).

Fact is I really suck at this. Which mike make one wonder why every year I say I’m not doing it, and every year I wind up in more than one league. This year I accepted an invite from an old friend who setup a league with most of the fellows from the league I “used” to manage. A couple guys in that league are semi-pro’s and one in particular, the same fellow who write Saturday’s post.. encyclopedic disorder when it comes to ball stats. And, he knows how to play the game.

I have a couple other good friends from the blog world and at the work place who I’m interested in playing with, some of whom were in the other league last year. So, I set up another friendly league for that crew, and no I have two different chance to end in the bottom of a league.

Years ago, the best part of any fantasy league was the draft. Back in the day we did the draft live, and we did it in a local establishment. I used to get a massive draft board and set of stickers with every player in the Majors on it. We draft and put the stickers on the board. The process would take 3-4 hours, the whole time we’d be munching and drinking and having a good time.

Now, in the hightech online environment we gather around our PC’s at the appointed time and do the draft on line. Good news is, we can engage more players form around the country, and as friends have left the area,we can stay connected. bad news is, we miss the banter and commentary, ribbing and camaraderie that was part of the draft.  That draft party, one of the highlights of my year and I miss it. The cold impersonal draft certainly goes alot faster but somehow, it’s just not as fun as it used to be.

But here we go. I can’t say no to fantasy sports. I love the excuse to read all about baseball players, to analyze stats and immerse myself in the game.

BTW the way, if in reading this you think you might be interested in playing, let me know, we might a spot for you to manage.

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Baseball- A Twins Preview

Today I have a guest post from a close family friend. Jeff, knows more about baseball than most of the sports writers in this town combined. He breathes it, literally I think. His knowledge of the game and it’s players is incredible. And while I find that Jeff is a little misguided about the Yankee’s, I can’t argue with his logic. Today I’m featuring a guest piece that Jeff recently sent out to his friends. It was so well written and to the point that I had to post it.

Spring Training Edition

The harbingers of spring are all around us.  Spring Training in Florida and Arizona while warmer weather is finally hitting the northern tundra and our armour of snow and ice is starting to melt away.  Thank you!  With that, I am compelled to comment on one of the finer things on this planet…of course you know who/what that is, the TWINS. Ta Da!

With spring comes eternal optimism.  When we left off last Fall, the Twins had impressively made the playoffs despite the loss of Justin Morneau.  Subsequently, they laid down like frightened lambs to the hated NY Yankees; but of course, that is in the past and we return to optimism.  Speaking of the Yankees, it says here they will finish no better than 3rd in the always brutal AL East and possibly lower.  They are getting old (ok, Cano is an MVP candidate) and their starting pitching SUCKS, and I mean that. But lets not dwell on the dark, we shall speak of the good!

Over the winter, the Twins had 3 priorities:
1.  Sign Nishioka from the Japan league.  Check
2.  Resign Pavano.  Check  He took a discount to stay here.
3.  Resign Thome.  Check  He took a massive discount to stay here.

To pay for this, the Twins had to let much of their excellent middle relief pitching go.  4 guys who each got multi year contracts at 3 to 5 million each annually.  By the way, baseball is crazy.  You don’t pay middle guys that much..you just don’t. The Twins know it and believe the farm can back fill these guys…for the most part.  While we are on the subject of relief pitching.  Joe Nathan is BACK after missing all of last year with the dreaded Tommy John surgery.  He is pitching pain free and with greater velocity than usual for this time of year.  Excellent news.  (by the way, does Mariano Rivera EVER get old?  I might be obsessed with the fricking pinstripes…)  Enough about relief pitching.  Most experts are worried about this area for the Twins.  I’m not.  I like the guys they have brought in AND the Twins have never been afraid to pick up the right guys at midseason for a bargain from teams that are bleeding and having fire sales.

Last year, the Twins were 6th in baseball in runs scored.  Let’s review why this will be significantly better this year, shall we!  Morneau was lost just before the all star break having an MVP season.  He is back and playing and while he might not perform at that level (and why not?), but we should have him for the full year.  That’s an improvement.  Span regressed last year; Kubel had a down year, Cuddyer had a down year (possibly from playing out of position to cover for Morneau) and believe it or not, despite hitting .327 last year, Mauer had a down year (odown year for Superman).  All of these guys have done things to return to their previous productivity including adjusting to Target Field.

The Twins only had two hitters who had great years; Thome & Delmon Young.  What can be said about Thome; he was a godsend last year and likely won’t duplicate his .283 average and 25 dingers in less than 300 at bats?  Delmon Young stepped up last year and had his best year as a professional.  Now many would say he won’t duplicate that. I say, lets take a walk through the facts.  Delmon turns 26 this year.  That’s right, he’s been around forever and people have moaned about how he hasn’t fullfilled his promised stardom; he is ONLY 26!  These are the, statistically proven, golden years for a hitter with 27 as the pinnacle.  It says here that Delmon matches last year with a decrease in RBI’s because Morneau will be cleaning some of that up in front of him.

The Twins have upgraded at 2nd base with Nishioka.  Why all the changes in the middle infield?  Because Target field is death to power hitters.  The Twins needed to upgrade their speed and Nishioka is a speedster who knows how to handle the bat and has a slick glove. The biggest question for the Twins this year is at shortstop where they have handed the job to the mercurial Alexi Casilla.  He is also quite fast, but a most inconsistent major leaguer.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see something change here.

Starting pitching.  Ok, short of the Phillies, no one has more depth and quality at starting pitching than the Twins.  It’s true; they don’t have an Ace.  Liriano has the talent to be an Ace but is…how you say…dumber than a box of rocks!  But consider this:  they have 6 proven starters and they are all pitching well in spring training and were pitching well at the end of the year.  Slowey didn’t make the post season roster for god’s sake and he is a perenial 14 game winner with an ERA in the 4.5 range.  We also have excellent prospects down on the farm.  The Twins will likely make a move with their 6th starter.  The smart money says they will trade for a proven middle relief pitcher, but I’m hoping otherwise.  For a proven starting pitcher, the Twins should get no less than a quality shortstop!

So, am I picking the Twins to win it all?  No way Jose.  It’s tough to imagine any team in the World Series besides the Phillies and the Red Sox.  The White Sox have improved immensely this off season and I think the wild card comes form, dare I say it, the AL central!  I heard that Ebmeier…if you’re still reading!  :)

For the Twins; it all rests on Morneau because as we all know:  “it don’t mean a thing, if we ain’t got his swing”!

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