Back again, wondering why with my love of baseball, board games and hip-hop Keith Law seems to have stolen my life and made it a-hella-lot more successful than I've managed. Of course, Keith Law is a complete idiot and knows nothing about hip-hop whatsoever for failing to note that The Demon Boyz from the UK initiated the -iggedy style before Das-Efx but that just shows how much he has to learn. Plus, “93 'Til Infinity” is clearly better than number 27 best old-school hip-hop and deserves to be at least number 23. Plus, the fact his list of hip-hop songs is completely awesome and can only be quibbled with in the most minor way is merely proof he's stolen my schtick. Apart from the bit where he comes across as a bit stringent and harsh if you disagree with him. The fool. As everyone knows, you need 100% stringency if you're going to survive so much as a minute in the world of baseball punditry or even in the miles more important universe of fantasy baseball reportage. Of course, all the credibility I've gained discussing 90's hip-hop would be rather undone if I let slip the fact that I'm typing this with one eye on the laptop screen and the other on the TV screen where they're playing Carole King in concert, but I'll keep that quiet. That, and the fact I had my eyeballs surgically replaced by those of a chameleon. On to actual baseball and a week that will live long in the memory. A week where a living legend cemented his relationship with an entire franchise by getting that hit that everyone had been waiting for – a hit that, at times this season, it felt would never come. But enough about Mark Kotsay getting a meaningful hit with his walk-off RBI the other day (ahem), did anyone hear anything about some guy in New York hitting a home run or something?
Week 13 review
Poughkeepsie Footpickers (415) beat Stinky Cheese (206)
There's one guy I think of quite a lot whenever I think about baseball statistics and records and, funnily enough, its not a baseball player at all but a cricketer. When looking at cricket the best statistical record of a player's performance is his batting average, namely how many runs he is likely to score for each time he is out. If in international cricket you can average 40 runs then you are a fairly solid test player. Average up to 45 or above and you're one of the best international players of your age. Get your average up to 50 and you're elite. Average from 55 to 60 and you're joining just over 10 players. Finish your career with an average above 60 and there's only three players who finished their test career there, with South African Graeme Pollock at the top with an average of 60.97. No-one in the whole history of cricket has managed to finish their career with an average higher than Pollock's 60.97. No-one, that is, apart from one Donald Bradman, who didn't merely average above 70 or even 80 but finished his career with a Test batting average of 99.94 and would have averaged over 100 had he not been out for nothing on his final appearance. OK, so in baseball terms we're looking at remarkably small sample sizes (Bradman having only batted 80 times in Test cricket) but, he had a similar average in non-international cricket so its probably fairly representative of his true skill level. If you're looking at sporting outliers Bradman is about the biggest one. The best baseball comparison would be if Ty Cobb had managed to retire from the game with a batting average of about .385. Bradman's performances are that crazy. Whenever I'm tempted to say that someone's outlandish performance suggests that he's on PEDs or suchlike I think of a relatively quiet Australian who began playing international cricket in the 1920s and was about as far removed from anyone's image of a drug-taker as you could possibly be. Of course, this doesn't prove that Jose Bautista or Albert Pujols or anyone doesn't take artificial stimulants and certainly in these cases looking at the statistics in certain ways can be useful in building a case to suggest someone is “using” but they don't necessarily prove anything. Similarly, without knowing the exact details of Pujols' wristbreak and his rehabilitation it is probably premature to suggest that his lightening recovery definitely proves PED usage. Of course, however, in fantasy baseball I'm taking his quick return as very suspect and, as a result, if Poughkeepsie Footpickers goes on to win the title I'm going to stick a very huge asterisk next to his win and demand that he dons sackcloth and ashes and personally asks for forgiveness from all the other owners. Sure, Pujols only scored 18 points this week but he must have passed on some of his illicit drug information to the rest of the team as PF went fairly ballistic on its way to a 45 point week. Main scorers for PF were CC (60), Ellsbury (47), David Hernandez (35), Sandoval, Bonifacio and Harrison (28) while Stinky Cheese could only muster up decent scores from Verlander (36), Masterson (29) and HanRam (28) as his hitters underperformed and some decent pitching scores were outdone by Carrasco (-33), Nicasio (-16) and Arrieta (-13).
MSKM (215) lost to Little Lebowski's Under Achievers (300)
Back when I was a 15 year-old something particularly traumatic happened to me. It was a gloriously hot summer and my friends and I would while away the time kicking footballs around the park, getting up to teenage high-jinks and awaiting the start of the World Cup. We weren't so stupid that we felt that Scotland might actually win the thing but, in common with a few others, the general feeling was that it was possible to qualify from a group that included tournament favourites Brazil but also a sub-par Swedish team and the underdogs from Costa Rica. Of course, personal devastation was ensured when Juan Cayasso knocked the ball past Jim Leighton to clinch a 1-0 win for the “Central American Minnows” (as they were referred to almost constantly) and, despite beating Sweden, a final match 1-0 defeat by Brazil meant Scotland trudged home before the knock-out stages began. Again. Funnily enough, I've always had a soft spot for Costa Rica since then. Partly it was the sun-dappled memories of Italia 90 and their crazy globe-trotting oach Bora Milutinovic but partly it was also finding out that, despite living in an area that faced bitter internecine wars a mere 25 years ago, it has gone without an army since 1948. Now, I've watched enough The Simpsons to know that all it takes for this to go hideously wrong is for a surly bartender to start chasing a large green alien while wielding a board with a nail in it but its still pretty cool. Less I lose any credibility that I may have on this site I do, however, want it strictly on the record that this is not for any hippyish reasons and that, to prove it, myself and my punks friends (note: punk friends exist only in my own mind) will invade Costa Rica some time this year and reduce all its inhabitants to slave-like autonomons who I force to blindly worship at the altar of the Great God Branyan. Certainly, however, it seems like Costa Rica has done better without an army than my team managed without a decent pitching staff at all. Sure, Ubaldo's recovery continued (28) and Baker got his regular good score (19) but I was let down by Floyd (-20) and Westbrook (-14) as my pitching staff only scored 51 points in total. Walker (27), Votto (25) and McCutcheon (21) anchored a solid but unspectacular hitting line-up. LLUA fairly cruised to victory much as the Central American minnows did against Scotland 20 years ago, primarily due to massive scores from Haren (60), Holliday (37) and Trumbo (30).
Chin Music (207) beat The Braun Supremacy (203)
If you're going to fail you might as well make it spectacular. You might as well risk asking out the cute brunette with the endearingly wonky smile even if she laughs at you. Sit in the pocket, risk the sack and go for the Hail Mary. Winning comfortably on opening day? How about tempting Ramon Hernandez with a nice, juicy pitch to hit (errr, perhaps not). Perhaps the finest example of balls-out-fuck-it-I'mma-do-this was the pure, undiluted chaos that was Djamolidine Abdoujaparov. Hailing from Uzebekistan, professional cyclist Abdoujaparov was known as the Tashkent Terror for a reason. When it came to a bunch sprint in the last 300 metres of any major cycling event Abdou would appear out of nowhere, head down, elbows flailing, forcing his bike violently from side to side desperately trying to coax every inch of power from his body. If there were other sprinters in his way it was their job to look out for him. He wasn't there to stare and admire other cyclists, he was there to win. The classic Abdou moment was the final stage of the 1991 Tour, the finish on the Champs Elysees that every cyclist wants to win. Winding up into his sprint he was just hitting top speed when, well, for the best explanation watch this. Not quite the worst Tour crash (for that, watch here, unless you're as squeamish as I am) but definitely up there and it serves as a fitting reminder of the absolute bedlam that was the Uzbek Express. The Braun Supremacy's defeat at the hands of Chin Music was hardly as spectacular a meltdown as Abdou's, but getting edged out by four points after being 80 points down after only two days is pretty hard to take. To be honest, neither team really deserved a win given relatively low scores but CM was fairly consistent, albeit with no-one outscoring Espinosa's 22 points (A-Gon with 21 was the only other to score over 20). Kinsler (30) and Nolasco (29) anchored TBS's efforts but, then again, I'm not sure if he's really taking part at the moment as he hasn't seemed to have made any changes to his team in ages. Perhaps I'm wrong though...
The Team That I Refuse to Name (168) lost to More Than A Feeling (309)
Sometimes the fantasy leagues seem a bit predictable and a bit, well, boring. After a couple of scuffles a few weeks ago More Than A Feeling is back on a winning run and, along with Bumpin' Ugglas, perhaps in the favourites position for the title. However, its probably escaped the notice of MTAF's owner that League Manager rules allow the commish to adopt any particular political philosophy as the overarching framework for a particular week. As many of you can tell, for most of the past weeks I've had a relatively Nihilistic approach and have been happy to let things continue on, sit back, do nothing and let whatever happens happen. Perhaps more of Paul Lafarge's Communist classic “The Right to be Lazy” than Nihilism, but, in true "eh, whatever..." style, I can't be bothered precisely delineating this one. Anyway, this week I'm changing that and going all Proudhon on MTAF. Not so much in the French anarchist thinkers bizarre viewpoint that women were definitely inferior to men (not so uncommon in the early 19th Century, but how many misogynists mathematically quantified men's superiority to women in the form of a 27:8 ratio?) but in his often-repeated quote that “Property is Theft”. OK, so there are numerous faults with Proudhon's statement, not least the fact it internally illogical, but its a good motto to have this week as it allows me to declare that MTAF is nothing but a cheap thief for having Hamels (43), Pedroia (39), Ibanez and Joey Bats (both 37) as his property on his team and therefore demand his expulsion from the league. Despite getting wiped out and being bottom of the Power Rankings TTIRTN is still in the race for automatic promotion but he'll need his luck to continue if he carries on with hardly any players able to make it over the 20 point margin. Weaver (25) and Corey Hart (24) were the only players to manage it for him this week and he'll be needing bigger scores to keep in the race this week.
Harvey's Wallbangers (229) lost to Gold Glove Gamels (297)
If there's one thing that I've learnt from doing these write-ups (and, I will stress heavily, there isn't) its that there is an inordinate amount of interest in my facial hair. True, its not something I've mentioned before and its something that no-one has mentioned in any of the threads but, in my head, there's a lot of interest in my relative hirsuteness and who are any of you to disagree? Anyway, for some strange reason my son keeps demanding that I grow a moustache and, after months of prevaricating, I gave in. Obviously aware that I'll look a complete idiot with just a moustache I've grown a bit of a beard as well and have just recently shaved off the beard part to leave a rather unsuitable moustache which I'll keep for a couple of days to keep my son amused before shaving off. Perhaps I haven't learnt my lesson from three years ago when I grew a massive Wilson-esque beard (resulting in the mainly Muslim kids I worked with at the time alternating between calling me “Wolverine” or, not joking, “Osama”) primarily on the basis that I learnt that my boss hated beards. Only being seven and not quite up with these references my son could only compare my new look to one character so, of course, I've spent the last few hours with him likening me to Hitler. Not, I stress, that my facial hair, looks, attitude or general demeanour have anything in common with the middle-European mass-murderer but, I guess, when you're very young one moustache looks pretty much like any other. Although he did suggest I grow a “Chinese moustache” which I'm taking as special code for “I reckon you're as cool as John Axford”. I might be wrong on that though. Funnily enough, old Adolf hit the news this week when his hometown revoked his honorary citizenship despite the fact he had never actually had it. If I had a Delorean I'd go back in time and warn 1930's Hitler that continuing in his megalomaniacal ways would see him lose an honorary citizenship he never had - I reckon that would be sufficient to see him change his plans dramatically and embrace both peace and, indeed, love. In this spirit, I am completely revoking Yuni's “Best Shortstop Ever” award, Albert's “Most Humble Personality Ever” certification and my own recent designation for concise, to-the-point writing. One thing that definitely seems to have been revoked is GGG's bad luck – with two days to go it looked like he might go down to a characteristically heart-breaking defeat only for him to apply the accelerator and pull away with ease. His victory was due mainly to Garcia (33), Zobrist (28), Youkilis (26) and Casilla (24), while HW's excellent hitting, Hunter (30), Izturis (30), Papi (29), A-Ram (29), was matched by a pitching staff that consisted of K-Rod (26) and not much else.
Never Gonna Give You Upton (201) beat Bringing Home the Bacon (177)
When I was younger I was a big fan of geography. There seemed nothing better to me (apart from either listening to, watching or playing sport) than sitting gazing at an atlas or drawing up made-up maps of archipelagos and then driving my Mum crazy by trying to artificially stain them using used tea bags. This lasted until I actually began to seriously study geography and quickly realised that knowing the capital of Nicaragua (answer: Managua) or the names of the two biggest islands making up Japan (answer: Hokkaido and Honshu) was slightly less important than interminal discussions about glaciation, precipitation and hundreds of other equally boring processes ending in -ation. Having a kid though means you get to relive your interests by forcing your offspring to pay attention to the things you liked when you were young, hence forcing my son to play geography-based card games and do a bit of stamp collecting or coin collecting. Damn, being a geek didn't do me any harm (apart from the constant physical abuse and bullying) and it won't do him any harm either! Its difficult, though, as things never stay the same in the world of physical geography, with this being one of its charms. Who among us of a certain age and with children hasn't spoken to their offspring about how the USSR split up, how Sri Lanka used to be Ceylon or how Canada invaded the USA in the year 2017 as a result of the massive checked lumberjack shirt shortage of that year and forced all Americans into subjection (shit, my clairvoyant made me swear not to reveal that one). The big change, of course, has been Sudan splitting into two over the weekend, with the result that Algeria will now become the biggest country in Africa with DR Congo and Libya in second and third places. Of course, if NGGYU was to split his team in two he'd get rid of the pitching half of it as they only contributed -11 points compared to a healthy 212 from his position players. Cuddyer (30), Rollins (28) and BJ Upton (25) were the top hitters in a line-up where no single position player failed to get into double figures. Sipp (18) and Pavano (16) pitched well but Peavy (-23) and Wolf (-26), errrr, didn't. Still, it was enough to beat the slumping BhtB who had Kelly Johnson (25) and Javier Vazquez (22) as the only players to score over 20.
Social Anxiety All Stars (298) beat Phoenix Fire (219)
Timing is absolutely everything. Whether it is swinging at an Aroldis Chapman fastball, avoiding a Vitali Klitchsko jab or even something as mundane as trying to leg it across a traffic light when it has just moved off red, you need to know when its the right time to do something. Take Robert Nesbitt, for example. You're a diehard Newcastle United supporter and particularly enamoured of star striker Andy Cole. What could possibly go wrong with getting a huge tattoo of said favourite player emblazoned across your right thigh? What could possibly happen to make you regret that? Obviously the correct answer is “loads of things” followed by “you're clearly a complete idiot”. Well, Robert's timing needed a touch of refining as a mere two days after having the relatively hideous tattoo completed Mr Cole decided that Newcastle might not be quite the place for him and that he actually rather fancied playing for Manchester United instead. So now Mr Nesbitt was stuck with the tattoo of a player who was playing up-front for one of Newcastle's major rivals. Oh dear. SAAS's timing was considerably better than Robert Nesbitt's this week as he stayed in contention in the division thanks to a good start to the week. Beltre (37) and Hamilton (29) anchored a good hitting line-up but excellent pitching from almost his entire staff (mainly Salas with 39) made all the difference. Bruce (33) and Valverde (30) were topscorers for PF but he'll need more decent weeks from Dan Uggla (25) to pull out some more wins.
Bumpin' Ugglas (268) beat Craig Counsell's Steakhouse (243)
Once or twice in these write-ups I've touched on scientific subjects (after all, what would fantasy baseball be without examination of scientific theory?) but my scientific knowledge is relatively limited. At school I could just about cope with biology, scraped through chemistry and gave physics up as soon as I possibly could. After all, what use is knowing about chemical reactions or equating forces or such-like when you can instead spent your time understanding the relative importance of Henry VII's usage of the Star Chamber as a means of curbing the power of local nobles? Having kids means that I'm rapidly finding out that the average 10 or 12 year old probably can answer many basic scientific questions that I'd really struggle with but, in complete fairness, neither of my kids would even have the first clue how to answer the most basic baseball questions such as how many outfielders there are, what a “balk” is or why the shortstop is such an important fielding position. Actually, given the Brewers this season I'm not really all that sure about my answer to the latter question but I'd guess the answer would somewhere involve weird rituals or blackmail photos. Saying that, I always knew that I could rely on one of two basic scientific pieces of information to ensure that I appeared a bit less of a dunce about science than might otherwise be the case, with my prime piece of information being the trivia that glass is actually a liquid and not a solid. If it was a solid and couldn't imperceptibly flow downwards then how come so many ancient panes of glass are thicker at the bottom than at the top? Unfortunately I've now also learnt that the Internet sucks all the fun and imagination out of life, and that glass is actually a solid or, more accurately, an amorphous solid. Luckily enough, while I feel a bit of an idiot for having perpetuated this most-geeky of all urban myths I now, thanks to Internet science geeks, have the ability to feel superior to lots of people and bring this piece of information up as often as possible to try and appear super-intellectual. That is until someone asks me to explain why glass is a solid and I'm left waffling on about crystalline structures, supercooling glass melts and glass thermodynamics in a desperate attempt to baffle them by using technical language. Anyway, Bumpin' Ugglas is currently displaying a similar sense of superiority and invincibility to that shown by Internet science geeks as his team continues on its way to the top of the division with a good win over a handy CCS side. BU can thank Tommy Hanson (36), Freeman (31) and Pagan (27) for his win, while CCS can only fondly gaze at Paul Maholm (something he has scheduled into his diary to do every Wednesday evening from 6:30 until 7:15) and his 43 points and wonder about what could have been...
Power Leagues. BhtB continues to slump, MTAF continues to run tings, Poughkeepsie vaults up the rankings, I continue to be unable to format the league correctly...
More Than A Feeling – 880 (12-2, East)
Bumpin' Ugglas – 793 (11-3, South)
Poughkeepsie Footpickers – 793 (7-7, South)
Social Anxiety All Stars – 776 (6-8, North)
MSKM – 758 (8-6, North)
Gold Glove Gamels – 756 (7-7, West)
Little Lebowski – 677 (7-7, East)
Stinky Cheese – 798 (10-4, West)
Craig Counsell's Steakhouse – 655 (2-12, West)
Phoenix Fire – 681 (5-9, East)
Never Gonna Give You Upton – 662 (5-9, South)
Harvey's Wallbangers – 661 (6-8, South)
Chin Music – 660 (6-8, North)
The Braun Supremacy – 577 (5-9, East)
Bringing Home the Bacon – 566 (9-5, West)
The Team I Refuse to Name – 497 (6-8, North)
Next week's match-ups
Stinky Cheese vs MSKM
The Braun Supremacy vs Never Gonna Gve You Upton
Phoenix Fire vs Poughkeepsie Footpickers
More Than A Feeling vs Harvey's Wallbangers
Little Lebowski's Under-Achievers vs Bumpin' Ugglas
Gold Glove Gamels vs Chin Music
Craig Counsell's Steakhouse vs Social Anxiety All Stars
Bringing Home the Bacon vs The Team That I Refuse to Name
Only four weeks to go of the regular season so things should be beginning to get a bit clearer. They're not, but they should be...
MSKM loses and stays on eight wins meaning there's all to play for. Things are tight behind as Chin Music, TTIRTN and Social Anxiety are all grouped together on 6 wins. Realistically MSKM should get there with just two more wins but with everyone in the division having to play against the teams in the West it could still be tight.
Bumpin' Ugglas (11) needs just one more win to be secure of promotion but the battle for second rages on behind him. Poughkeepsie (7) is in prime position after his big win this week but Harvey's Wallbangers (6) are a mere win behind. Never Gonna Give You Upton (5) is still not out of it, but is rapidly running out of time.
More Than A Feeling (12) wrapped up the division win last week and continues his devastating form with another win this week. Little Lebowski's win moves him to 7 overall and a comfortable two win lead over both Phoenix Fire and The Braun Supremacy (both 5). Both are still in with a chance though...
Stinky Cheese (10) gets wiped out by Poughkeepsie this week but maintains his one win lead as Bringing Home the Bacon (9) also loses. Only last week I was mentioning how GGG needs a bit of a miracle to stay in this one but his victory over Harvey's Wallbangers keeps him clinging on at 7 wins. If he wins and BhtB loses next week then things will look really close. CCS continues to put in better performances than his record (2 wins) suggests but, barring a huge and unexpected change in basic mathematics, will fail to make the winning play-offs.