Sunday, April 02, 2006

THE PASTIME by wikkidpissah


April, the cruelest month. The lines have already been drawn for March – it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. The month of showers & mud, however, is more elusive. Some say it comes in like the Easter Bunny and goes out like a barbeque apron. For others, it comes in like a mission accomplished and goes out like a civil war. There are those who think April comes in like a supermodel and goes out like an E-felony. I met a person on the street once who thought it came in like a nail gun and out like a pomegranate. Many believe our fourth month to come in like a messiah and out like a Mini-Cooper, and some say in like a wet spot and out like a resolution. Readers of this column probably think it comes in like a thirty-year-old Saturday Night Live sketch and goes out like a fun new game for the entire family. For the record, my own personal belief is that it comes in like a mantra and out like a wolverine. Nufced.

For the fantasy sports fan, April can be the busiest month. My six fantasy basketball H2H teams are all in the playoffs (and, for the first time, I lead by a mile in a roto league, a format which used to murder me….my ESPN daily cap team is presently 9th in the NATION, out of about 25,000) and, yesterday, I drafted my ninth baseball squad for ’06 (BTW: the only player I drafted on every non-keeper was Joe Mauer). So, getting a feel for one’s new teams in one sport while making injury adjustments & lineup choices for the playoffs (someday I must explain to Creek what that’s like) keep the fantasy mind pointed in more directions than at any other time of the year. Let’s see of what we can make sense…

I haven’t really decided what form this Monday column should take and what readers we have are welcome to help me choose. If you want lineup advice to set your rosters (the Monday column usually comes out Sunday evening so there’s time), make sure to let LOCKERROOM know (or email me at Should you prefer more analysis of the week just past, we want to hear that, too. Or, if your preference is for more general observations about trends I pick up, send word. Hopefully, there will be a little of each every week, but I also would like to shape this space to suit as many tastes as possible. For this week, I’m just going to breeze thru each division and tell you what I’m seeing and thinking so far. Here goes:

AL East – Got a feeling this is the last year of the two behemoths dominating this division. With the age of the Sox and, especially, the Yankees, the new commitment of Toronto to being a true national team, Baltimore’s live young arms now being guided by the greatest specialty coach in sports & Tampa Bay assembling the best group of young talent since the 90’s Marlins and Indians, the East has potential to be an unprecedented powerhouse…With their similarities in stuff & general makeup, I really believe Beckett & Schilling will feed off each other and become to pitching what Papi & ManRam are to hitting…the soft underbelly for the BoSox is that the bottom of their batting order could be the worst it's been in forty years…the top eight in the Yankees lineup average 34 years of age, their two aces are 42 & 37 and their redoubtable closer is 36. Is this the year the rocking chair breaks?…the average fastball speed of the Oriole starters is 96 mph. Can Mazzone harness the stuff of these Nuke LaLooshes?...This season’s five-tool player to put it all together in ’06 (a la GSizemore last season) – Alexis Rios…I really, reeeally hope the Rays’ management stops their practice of frustating potential trading partners with outrageous price tags so they can may the adjustments (pitching?) to make this the exciting young team it should be.

AL Central – Can Ozzie Guillen’s oddball style keep this team of perfectly ordinary players running uphill now that they are champs? One big factor in his favor: when Javier Vasquez is your 5th starter (and my favorite young ace, BMcCarthy in the wings) slumps are going to be hard to come by….I love the Indians lineup (and am hoping Eduardo Perez, the best unknown stick in ball, gets out of the platoon at 1st) , but can a team whose staff is led by two lefties stay pointed in the right direction?…Baseball is healthiest when at least one rust belt team is contending, so I’ve rooted for the Tigers comeback since that awwwful season they had. They’re halfway, so was there a stupider way to spend that put-us-over-the-top money than KRogers? Yes, Todd Jones….Even if JMauer is the stud I think he’ll be, this is one shabby-ass Twin offense - especially for a team pretending to contend. Forget Tony Batista – Rondell White at cleanup? Really?!...Why is going to Royals Stadium a waste of an afternoon? Because, in most fantasy drafts, the first 20 rounds go by without a SINGLE Royal taken (Sweeney/Burgos tie for most fantasy value).

AL West – On the other side of evaluating real teams by fantasy drafts, can the Angels contend with only two members of their batting order (Vlad, Fig) regularly being chosen in the top 15-20 rounds? Their solid five-deep starting staff will be the key to their success, too …No starter-closer combo throws as much absolute filth as Harden-Street do. Will that be enough to carry an outfield of Bradley-Kotsay-Swisher?...VPadilla has a chance to be Comeback Player of the Year (yes, even in that ballpark) but, even if he does, AEaton’s injury leaves the 3-4-5 spots in the staff manned by guys named Loe, Dickey & Koronka…Didn’t like Cleveland being led by two lefty starters, so how would I feel about Moyer, Hernandez, Washburn in Seattle? Now that baseball is so slugger-oriented, exciting young hurlers are more rare & exciting than hitters, so I’m hoping Fe-nom lives up to it. Though I believe you should have to overcome something besides previous sucking to qualify for the CPoY award, ABeltre is a strong candidate.

NL East – Won’t be long before CUtley & RHoward are the biggest one-two punch in the NL. If Abreu & Burrell stay viable until that occurs, big things could happen in Philly…I’ve mentioned others already, but the Smoltz-Hudson will be the best 1-2 starters in the game. Will the rest of the pitchers lose ground without Mazzone, however? And, will that cause them to lose their 1st division title since 1934?...I'm usually excited when a team makes those few ideal-seeming moves to put their team over the top. Then why am I just waiting for the other shoe to drop at Shea?...How can getting one of the most talented players in baseball for virtually nothing turn your team into total shit just like that? Soriano will show the Nats how…Y’all are too young to remember when Commissioner Kuhn (who ever thought I be nostalgic about ol’ Boring Bowie) would step in to stop Charlie Finley’s fire sales of Oakland As. Florida’s 2nd such sale in five years borders on fraudulant business practice and should have been intervened upon for the good of the game, especially when it leaves the games two most exciting young talents stranded in an Everglade of incompetence. Gator alert!

NL Central – If I didn’t like North Siders so much (as the NL equivalent of Fenway fans), this Prior/Wood thing would be hilarious….the double play combo of RWeeks & JJHardy will lead the BrewCrew to a 90-win season (if Sheets gets 30+ starts) and a challenge of the Cards. Hardy is easily the best player nobody is drafting…I don’t care how bad the rest of your division is – if your teams have LF manned by a platoon of Bigbie/Taguchi and 2B by Miles/Spivey, you ain't no cinch. I am starting to think JMarquis just might be the greatest beneficiery of the Age 27 Syndrome, though…It should be illegal to charge money for tickets to see teams with Tony Womack playing 2B. I really hope BArroyo shows the Sox they made a huge mistake trading him for Wily Mo. He has the stuff & temperament to do so, even in that launching pad….No pitching staff has equal chances to be really, really good or really, really bad like the Pirates’. Are Casey-Burnitz-Randa the most exciting offseason moves EVER?!

NL West – The thing obscured by all the controversy is that, during the juice period, Barry Bonds learned how to be the best hitter who ever lived. He’s become sooo unbelievable that, if his knees hold up early and he isn’t suspended so long that he can’t qualify, my money says he’ll play a little joke on baseball by forgetting the fences in order to hit .400. Should he try that, Ty Cobb’s .426 is in jeopardy…Are the Dodgers the most boring team ever assembled? Perfectly suits those fans…the Padres are the Twins West – a seriously shabby lineup for a team with post-season ambitions…does anyone else think that the home-road Jekyll & Hyde act that elevation issues have caused the Rockies to irrevocably become is as bad for the game as Marlin fire sales?...Could he NL West be the first division nobody wins?

The most important thing fantasy sports has done for me is to once again bring this game back to the pastime it was for me before I moved away from living in major league cities. So streaming results aren’t hot dogs & foul balls – let’s still play two. May your spring hopes find the promise of endless summers and bring bountiful fall harvests. Play hard -

1 comment:

Professor Ellis D Trails said...

march goes in like a lion and out like a lamb, hence the april showers begin, the april showers bring may flowers, well what do may flowers bring? my little nephew told me this