The Brewers are back in full effect boy, bringing the pain in the last week and removing all those memories of the Astros and Cardinals series last week that had everyone staring into the sun like we were 12-0 down in the bottom of the ninth and our next three batters up were Yuni, Kotsay and Gomez. Well, they were completely out of your memory until I just went and put them back there but that's the type of cruel games that I get to play as commissioner of BCB League III. Well, according to the official league rules the only other game I'm legally allowed to play while typing up this nonsense is petanque and I'd rather not be caught doing that. As everyone knows, anything French is automatically against Freedom, and if there's anything I'm "meh, I suppose it's OK" about it is freedom. That's why, to this day, I refuse to listen to any of my huge collection of Johnny Hallyday CDs, send back any dish in a restaurant if it has been anywhere near so much as half a clove of garlic and, just last Thursday evening, refused yet another dinner invitation from Audrey Tatou. She's tried promising to take on German citizenship but that's a frying pan and fire situation so she'll need to come up with something considerably better...
Anyway, do that jump thing like its 1968, you're in Mexico City and someone's just said to you "fancy a shot at this long jump malarkey, Mr Beamon?"
Weekly review stuff!
Bringing Home the Bacon (246) beat Stinky Cheese (244)
Everyone remembers the Red Sox in 2004 and their amazing come-from-behind-victory to win the ALCS. They're 3-0 down in games and then things go slightly mental: Big Papi homers off Mariano Rivera, Schilling pitches a few guys out while criminally-ignoring the fact his sock-staining is creating extra hassle for the kit man and then they breeze through the clincher 10-3. Or there's the 1999 Champions League Final where Man Utd were 1-0 down to Bayern Munich and scored twice in the last minute or two to win club football's major trophy. Looking back at them its sorta unbelievable that things could have been any different: sure, they would have been fairly memorable sporting events even if the Yankees had won game seven or Man United had only scored once and then lost in extra time but there's seemed to be a cosmic inevitability about the results. That's why we remember and cherish the "come-from-behind-victory" and not the "come-from-behind-and-almost-win-but-don't-defeat" and, unfortunately, Stinky Cheese's result this week falls into the latter category. Sixty points down with only a couple of days left he pulled it back to lose tragically by a mere two points, with Verlander (26), Arrieta and Maybin (both 25), Fielder and Bernadina (both 22) scoring heavily but ultimately the power of BHtB's Romero (28), Edwin Jackson (23) and Tulo (22) coupled with strong performances across the board saw him through. Just.
Little Lebowski Under Achievers (75) lost to The Braun Supremacy (251)
When pasty-faced, fey, indie wastrels Belle and Sebastian sat down to pen a baseball-related song there's a good reason why they came up with "Piazza, New York Catcher". Leaving aside the question of whether any members of the Glasgow-based whimsical, contemplative pop collective would actually dare ask Piazza "are you straight or are you gay?" there's a few good reasons why Piazza was chosen as the subject of their addition to the Official Soundtrack for Juno. Firstly, anyone who has such a superlative career after being picked in the 62nd round of the draft is either a genius or has sold his soul in a Robert Johnson-esque pact with Beelzebub himself and is thereby worth of being remembered in musical form. Secondly, "Piazza" and "catcher" kinda rhyme (which tends to be a plus in songs) although, it must be stated, that the high levels of alcoholism that have influenced the Glasgwegian accent tend to make any two words chosen at random sound like parts of an ideal rhyming couplet. Thirdly, despite his superlative week for The Braun Supremacy with 42 points "Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers Designated Hitter and occasional Catcher" just doesn't sound right. Off the top of my head even "Jon Lucroy, Catcher, Polymath, Intellectual, Bringer of Joy" is better (despite being at very least 50% a lie) although I'd put money on my seven year old coming up with something better within a mere 180 seconds providing I'd force-fed him Haribo, Red Bull and a copy of Roget's Thesaurus. TBS couldn't really lose this one with Martinez himself scoring more than half the total that LLUA managed across his entire team, but had good performances also from Prado (37), Stubbs (28), Cain (20) and Kinsler (19). LLUA put up a shocking pitching performance (-35) thanks to Brandon League's repeat meltdowns (-35) and Kevin Correia (-26) and his hitting was almost solely down to Adam Jones (27) and Michael Brantley (21). Looking at that he was lucky to get 75...
Harvey's Wallbangers (245) beat Poughkeepsie Footpickers (210)
There's only one thing really really worth noting on this one and that's the strange, strange fact that the top scorer across the entire week for Poughkeepsie was Corey Patterson (28). How could you forget Corey Patterson? For those of you who are new to the Crew or, more likely, have undergone voluntary lobotomisation using only a small pack of analgesics and a rusty screwdriver in order to remove all memory of the 2009 season, Patterson was basically Carlos Gomez-lite. And that's not a good thing. Speedy outfielder who could chalk up the stolen bases, not a bad fielder but poor OBP and no power (apart from a 24 HR season for the 04 Cubs) and is best known for managing to coax repeated MLB contracts from clubs still looking at the 2000 potential rather than the 2011 reality. Suffice it to say that if Corey Patterson is your top player you've normally put together a team that would be settling down for a long season at the bottom of the power rankings with only the Astros near them to provide solace. And, let's face it, a few months in the company of Clint Barmes and JR Towles doesn't really sound like anyone's idea of fun. Despite that, PF ran things close with Todd Helton (26) and Asdrubal (23) adding some nice points. HW was solid throughout, with K-Rod (28), Papi (25), Granderson (22) and Axford (21) doing enough to keep him comfortably ahead almost the entire week.
More Than A Feeling (338) beat Phoenix Fire (223)
Little-known 19th Century German relief pitcher and knuckleballer-extraordinaire Karl Marx began "Das Kapital", his seminal German-language study of baseball in Washington, with the words "A spectre in haunting the BCB League III fantasy baseball league - the spectre of More Than A Feeling". Hell, if you really really want to you can spend aeons debating and undermining his theories regarding the decomposition of capitalism, the labour theory of value and the transformative power of the working-class but you've got to admit that when it came to predicting 21st Century leisure activities based on the selection of baseball players his prediction of glory for MTAF proves old Charlie definitely knew a thing or two. Interestingly, however, MTAF has spectacularly ignored many of Marx's teachings to lead his team to its present 6-0 grandeur. Firstly, Marx's view that the value of both sides of any commodity exchange are equivalent was shown to be bunkum by MTAF managing to somehow get Longoria and Bumgarner while giving up dross like Crisp, Marquis and Gaby Sanchez. And Josh Beckett, but he seems not too bad this year. Secondly, while value can be destroyed Marx did not believe in the concept of negative value thereby making him entirely unable to account for the performance of MTAF's Ivan Nova (-17. In only 3 innings). Finally, the determinism seen by many to be a self-evident part of Marx's historical materialism has been refuted by the fact that the repeatedly predicted suggestions of regression for Jose Bautista (50 points!) have failed to occur and, instead, he marches on to his glorious future with the same fortitude and certainty of success and world domination as USSR troops stationed in East Berlin in 1990. Or something like that. Not that I've entirely bastardised the theory of historical materialism at all. With Bautista's performances supplemented by 40 from Ian Kennedy and 30 from Anibal Sanchez there wasn't a lot that PF could do, despite putting up a reasonable score thanks to Valverde (27), Kuroda (26), Konerko (23) and Yadier Molina (22).
Next week I use Mussolini's "The Doctine of Fascism" to examine the recent troubles of NGGYU, before ascertaining the likely future performance of John Lackey using solely the splenetic ramblings of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Craig Counsell's Steakhouse (191) lost to Gold Glove Gamels (257)
There’s very few groups who have based significant proportions of their career upon creating perfectly-crafted songs based on baseball. And there’s even fewer who have done it so subtly that few people notice. And perhaps only Devo have ever done it so subtly that absolutely no-one has understood the sabermetric-nature of their songs. No-one apart from me, that is. It’s a little-known fact, but Mark Mothersbaugh wrote “Whip it” as a critical commentary on Frank Tanana's 1976 league leading rate of 0.99 walks and hits allowed per nine innings. “Working in a Coal Mine” was originally entitled “Working on Bill James’s Gold Mine” due to the many hours the group spent providing nuggets of information for James’s seminal publication and "Are You Experienced?" was a subtle commentary on the difficulty of correctly ascertaining the level of production expected from a replacement level player. CCS, however, have taken things one step further and are attempting to demonstrate the validity of Devo’s theory of “de-evolution” (that human civilisation has ceased to progress and is now moving backwards) through putting together a stunning run of devastating defeats that mirror the pointlessness of current "society". What other explanation could there be for continuing to trot out the likes of Hinske and Laynce Nix (0 and 3 respectively). Lucroy (31) and Kershaw (30) did reasonable imitations of decent baseball players however. GGG, meanwhile, won this one fairly easily, almost not needing the decent pitching performances of Greinke (30), Hellickson (26) and Price (24). Anyway, if we're still talking about Devo my "Gut Feeling" is that GGG have now emerged from their "Deep Sleep" and may well, if results go their way, make their owner a "Happy Guy".
PS My utmost apologies to all those under the age of 35 to whom the above paragraph must seem to contain even more than the regulation quota of complete gibberish.
Bumpin' Ugglas (285) beat Never Gonna Give You Upton (211)
If there’s one thing as mind-numbingly consistent as a Carlos Gomez base-running error, the Crew beating the Pirates or, errr, these interminable fantasy baseball write-ups it’s the downright shoddy performance of NGGYU. Week in, week out his team underperforms spectacularly and fails to meet expectations. In fact, they’re so bad they’re shoddy twice – firstly in its original sense as the badly-made material US Civil War uniforms were made of that resulted in them disintegrating quickly and secondly in its modern-day adjectival usage. Yes, instead of boring you rigid with instantly forgettable references to Scottish culture (if such a thing, indeed, exists) I’m taking the different tack of boring you rigid with instantly forgettable etymological references to the US Civil War. Indeed, I’m personally suggesting that the handlebar moustache now be renamed the “fordax” in reference to our current closer in much the same way as the term “sideburn” originated due to the whiskers fashioned by US Civil War soldier General Ambrose Burnside. In fact, I would say that NGGYU were crap apart from the fact that the excellent story that the modern toilet was invented by Thomas Crapper is, unfortunately, an urban myth. As everyone who has taken seriously their study of sanitary hardware should know, it was actually first patented by the 16th Century Newcastle-born author and bon-vivante Sir David Bogshite. Anyway, if NGGYU was a baseball player he'd be Jorge Posada and refusing to take part but he's made of sterner stuff and doesn't roll that way. Especially as his pitching had some decent parts last week, with Beckett (37), Travis Wood (36), Marquis (27) and Cueto (25) making up for none of his hitters scoring over 20. BU had CrGo hitting 29 and Starlin Castro a mere 27, with good pitching from Jurrjens (23), Cordero and Britton (both 20)
The Team I Refuse to Name (175) beat MSKM (162)
Last week I dredged up from the dark, dark recesses of my memory the devastating 0.3 loss defeat I suffered at the hands of TTIRTN and I vowed that revenge would be mine. Well, this week I failed completely to live up to my word, having a relatively nice (but insecure) lead in the middle of the week only to see the most inept pitching week in the whole history of fantasy pitching (either baseball or the recently instituted Yahoo Fantasy Horseshoe Pitching League) complete a pathetic showing. Do you remember when you were in school and, in a fatal moment of weakness, you admitted to that jock guy who was point guard for your year that you quite fancied the really attractive blonde girl in the year above who, if rumours were to be believed, would put out with anyone? And remember then how, to your complete dismay, he didn't just tell her but made sure everyone in your class knew? You swore your revenge and, merely two years later, when he did slightly worse in his exams than he thought he would and had to settle for a marginally-less prestigious university to study politics you convinced yourself that karma had come back with a vengeance. Of course, it was complete bollocks as, last you heard, he had graduated easily with honours and is now packing a $200,000 salary in the boardroom of the multi-national company his Uncle runs. The bastard. Yeah, the dismal truth I have to accept is that a bit of schadenfreude and a brief fantasy lead on Wednesday means absolutely nothing when the points are counted on Sunday night. The fact that TTIRTN only managed a desultory 175 points (mainly helped by Alexei Ramirez with 26 and Vogelsong with 21) just makes it seem even worse. I had Madson (26), Yunel Escobar (23), Votto (22), Brandon Phillips and Andrew McCutchen (both 21) doing reasonably but the rest might have just as well been a bunch of middle-aged insurance salesmen from Des Moines with beer guts and strange facial hair who had been put onto the Florida Marlins roster in a foolishly transparent attempt to save cash money. They'd still probably do a better imitation of a major league pitcher than Ubaldo Jimenez (-14) or Gavin Floyd (-13) though as my pitching staff struggled through 30 innings to score exactly no points. Cheers guys!
Social Anxiety All Stars (195) lost to Chin Music (230)
One thing that really riles me is the assumption that you can only get a good sporting night out by watching teams that are supposedly "elite". You can go to Old Trafford and watch Manchester United bore Chelsea to death in a 1-0 win and sit munching your prawn sandwiches while mentally ticking off various names from the list of "star players" you've seen, but wouldn't you rather be sat at Spotland, engrossed in a 7-goal thriller between Rochdale and Walsall? Now, I know very little about American football, but I am confident in saying the equivalent is the fact that watching a dull football match between [insert good team here] and [another good team] is not half as worthwhile as watching [insert very bad team] beat [another very bad team] with a last second field goal [or is it free-throw? Check this one so you don't look as much of an idiot as normal]. Well, if they made proverbs about really exciting fantasy baseball matches this would be the proverbial classic version involving two poor sides. SAAS were up by about 40 after the first three days before CM pulled it back to 168-166 with a day to go and then racked up 64 points in the final day to make it look easy. When you've got Adrian Gonzales and Ryan Braun (39) you're always in with a chance, with CM also having Venters (25) and Ryan Dempster (22!) scoring nicely. Bartlett (24), A-Jax and Clay Buchholz (both 21) put up decent totals but the absence of a single big scorer for SAAS made a lot of difference.
Power Rankings: In case any of you are one of the 0.2% of the world's population who do not understand basic numeracy and rankings but do have an in-depth knowledge of the various works of the most legendary UK punk band (The Clash) I've devised a special name for each league to help you from Spanish Bombs (excellent) to Should I Stay (over-rated and tripe).
League 1 (Spanish Bombs)
1) More Than A Feeling - 602 points (6-0 East)
2) Bumpin' Ugglas - 537 (5-1 South)
3) Gold Glove Gamels - 530 (4-2 West)
League 2 (Rock The Casbah)
4) MSKM - 524 (3-3 North)
5) Stinky Cheese - 490 (4-2 West)
6) Phoenix Fire - 479 (2-4 East)
League 3 (Stay Free)
7) The Braun Supremacy - 470 (2-4 East)
8) Harvey's Wallbangers - 467 (4-2 South)
9) Little Lebowski Under Achievers - 460 (2-4 East)
League 4 (English Civil War)
10) Bringing Home the Bacon - 458 (4-2 West)
11) Social Anxiety All Stars - 407 (1-5 North)
12) Poughkeepsie Footpickers - 396 (2-4 South)
League 5 (Should I Stay or Should I Go?)
13) The Team I Refuse to Name - 374 (5-1 North)
14) Craig Counsell's Steakhouse - 345 (0-6 West)
15) Never Gonna Give You Up - 337 (1-5 South)
16) Chin Music - 325 (3-3 North)
Incredibly lucky teams: TTIRTN, CM, Poughkeepsie
Incredibly unlucky teams: MSKM, Phoenix, TBS, LLUA, SAAS
Next Week's Match-Ups (interleague play, baby!)
MSKM vs Never Gonna Give You Upton
The Braun Supremacy vs Stinky Cheese
Phoenix Fire vs Gold Glove Gamels
More Than A Feeling vs Craig Counsell's Steakhouse
Little Lebowski Under Achievers vs Bringing Home The Bacon
Chin Music vs Poughkeepsie Footpickers
Social Anxiety All Stars vs Harvey's Wallbangers
The Team I Refuse to Name vs Bumpin' Ugglas
Match-up of the Week: Phoenix Fire vs Gold Glove Gamels
Potentially a bit of a classic to start of interleague play with 6th in the power rankings playing 3rd. Phoenix Fire has Uggla, Halladay, Jay Bruce and Yuni Betancourt (spot the imposter) up against a sick looking pitching line-up of Greinke, Lee, Price and some decent relievers. Plus he's got the rejuvenated Lance Berkman so I'm making GGG the slight favourites in this one.