Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Can't Get Enough Of That Wonderful Duff(y)

Smell that? It's the smell of another fantasy baseball draft. Can't smell it? Well, you shouldn't be reading this then.

OK, so as I mentioned before, Game Four has two official fantasy baseball teams. We just drafted our second of the two, which was put together by SportsBlah. I have to say, not much different than the last draft. The team came out a little different, but the draft itself was pretty standard. So this time around I'm not going to dissect our picks by round or tell you why we made them and why they're so great. Instead, I'm going to take the opposite route and tell you why this team is going to end up being so horrible. (Keep in mind we had the 11th overall pick in a 12-team league. The league is hosted on ESPN.com. Roto style. 5x5. Daily line up changes. yada yada yada.) Here goes:

C-Joe Mauer (5th round)
We took a catcher in the 5th round. First mistake. Mike Barrett was picked in the 23rd round! Brian McCann wasn't drafted at all! Sure Mauer could end up being the best catcher in all of fantasy baseball this year, but 5th round?!

1B - Chris Shelton (13th round)
Here is our starting first baseman. A guy playing for the Tigers! I'm excited. We waited until the 13th round to get a 1B. I know it's a deep position but c'mon. Anyone picked in the 13th round isn't going to carry your team.

2B - Chase Utley (2nd round)
Can anyone say fluke? Ya, Utley can't either. Saying anything bad about this is going to be difficult. Maybe would have fallen to 3rd...no, sorry..can't do it. I'm real happy we got him.

3B - Chipper Jones (7th round)
He's 34 years old and playing with little kids in Atlanta. Not sure how many RBI or Runs he's produce or if he'll stay in the field all year. Though with Andy Marte not breathing down his neck he may be alright. Ladies and gentlemen...I give you our starting third baseman.

SS - Jhonny Peralta (4th round)
Who? Where the hell this did this guy come from last year? Possible fluke. Possible next coming of Miguel Tejada. Who knows?

OF - Miguel Cabrera (1st round), Adam Dunn (3rd round), Willy Taveras (9th round), Curtis Granderson (14th round), Chris Duffy (22nd round)
Cabrera gives you everything but stolen bags, but with the adjusted line up in Florida I'm not sure how much his numbers will improve even if his ability goes up. Dunn will single handedly kill the team's average. Taveras makes up for the SB not given to us by Miggy, but adds little to nothing else to the equation. Granderson is risky, may not produce they way we want him to this year (good keeper pick though...too bad it's not a keeper league!), Duffy will probably be cut if he doesn't steal us 10 bags by late May.

2B/SS - Ian Kinsler (15th round)
Rookie. Not known for his power or speed. Could be the next Eric Hinske. I'm excited!

1B/3B - Ryan Zimmerman (19th round)
Rookie. Spent a whole 85 days in the minors. Could be a superstar, just probably not this year.

Util - Dallas McPherson (23rd round)
The guy batted .244 last year. Not too promising. Isn't your UTIL guy supposed to be a really good hitter. Man, what are we thinking?

Bench - Delmon Young (21st Round)
He's not even on an active roster! We drafted a guy that's not even going to be in the majors on opening day? Why not draft Felix Pie and Joel Guzman too?! Ya, we really want to win this huh?

Oh ya, and we drafted Luis Gonzalez from Colorado thinking he was eligible for every position like he is in Yahoo, but instead he was only eligible at 2B. He was quickly dropped from the roster and no one is yet to take his place.


P - Barry Zito (6th round), Josh Beckett (8th round), Danny Haren (10th round), Jose Valverde (11th round), Scott Kazmir (12th round), Justin Verlander (16th round), Chris Ray (17th round), Oliver Perez (18th round), Scot Shields (20th round), Kris Benson (24th round)
IF Zito keeping going with what he was doing in the second half last year. IF Beckett stays healthy. IF Haren keeps it up. IF Valverde keeps his job. IF Kazmir gets some wins. IF Verlander lives up to the hype. IF Ray is as good as BJ Ryan was. IF Perez doesn't get in another fight with a laundry cart. IF K-Rod gets hurt and Shields takes over. IF Benson learns anything from Leo Mazzone. IF all these things happen the staff will actually be ok. Some big IF's in there.


I guess someone forgot to tell us this wasn't a keeper league.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

420 Players Later...

Some think 4 Fantasy Baseball leagues is too many. Some think 1 is too many. Not us though. Here at Game Four, between the 5 contributers, we have at least 10 teams. Now, most of them are private leagues and private teams, some keepers, some one year, some roto, some head to head. Two of these teams are going to be considered the official "Game Four Fantasy Teams". One of leagues recently had their draft. It was put together by BaseballGeeks.com and included 20 teams. It's a roto style with 21 players, normal 5x5 categories. The draft was long and tiresome at point, but man was it fun. Here's a quick recap of my picks and some toils that were hit along the way....

  • Round 1
  • So we've got the 8th overall pick. I've done my research and I've realize who's going to be here by that point. Obviously I've lost out on the big 3 (A-Rod, Pujols, Vladdy) and probably not going to get Santana (though i don't feel you should ever take a SP in the first round, no matter how dominant he is). So I've got a few options, but there's one guy I want and he falls right to #8. Miguel Cabrera. He plays 2 positions (3B, OF) and puts up great numbers for every position except SB. I could have had David Ortiz, who was taken with the next pick, but there's a whole lot of 1B out there and i had my eye on a sleeper later in the draft anyway.

  • Round 2
  • Now the first few rounds should also be for picking up the "best available guy". A lot of position guys had left the board since my last pick so I decided to get my ace now. Rich Harden, hurt last year, but all but guaranteed to put up phenomenal numbers every year was still on the board so we snatched him up. There were still a few stud positional guys out there, but none of which are as valuable to any particular position as Harden would be.

  • Round 3
  • Here's where I made a pick based souly on the fact that I really wanted this guy and was afraid someone else was going to ick him up early. Jhonny Peralta was now my starting SS. If you don't get a good/great 2B or SS you shouldn't panic but you're basically screwed at that position. There's a few at the middle infield that will really help your team. Tejada, Reyes, Young, Rollins were all gone at SS. Peralta looks to take over where Tejada is leaving off anyway. I'm hoping for an even better year than last from Jhonny at a normally weak position.

  • Round 4
  • I'm noticing a trend: All the elite positions are being gobbled up. Not unexpected but frustrating none the less. This is a 20-team league after all. So, if you have to solidify a position, might as well be a position that you can start multiple players at: SP. Andy Pettite was out next pick, joining Harden on our pitching staff.

  • Round 5
  • OK, here's where we decided to get what we could in the pitching categories and try and find ourselves some sleepers on the field. Barry Zito was our next pick. He had a great 2nd half and we're expecting good things from the former Cy Young winner.

  • Round 6
  • Power was pretty much gone. We were going to pick up a questionable Ken Griffey, Jr but he was nabbed 3 picks before us. So we decided to get some cheap runs and SB without hurting our AVG. Willy Taveras was our first OF pick. No one is hoping more than us that Bagwell hangs up the cleats, giving Berkman time at 1B and Willy time in the OF.

  • Round 7
  • Remember that "sleeper" 1B I was talking? It was about time to pick him up. Prince Fielder joined the team and our infield was starting to take shape. We're still missing a catcher and a 2B, but since all the elite players at both of those positions were swiped up already we weren't going to spend too much time worrying about them just yet.

  • Round 8
  • "Let's solidify our pitching staff". Scott Kazmir joined the staff, making him our 4th starter in 7 picks. At this point we may have, arguably, the best staff in the league...but we're only 8 rounds in. And I mean, every team has to have a "best in the league" position right? Why not SP? And since it takes more than just one starter to make up a great staff, as opposed to the positional players, it's not a terrible thing to stock up on them.

  • Round 9
  • And stock up on them we did: Jeremy Bonderman joined the staff in round 9.

  • Round 10
  • Ok, we're starting to realize we've forgot about OF. Well, not forgot, just not willing to pick any of the available guys over the better talent at other positions. So, the only power guy left really was Jermaine Dye, so we picked him up and sat him next to Taveras in our OF. We might regret not picking up Hermida here but this isn't a keeper league (so we say now).

  • Round 11
  • More SP? Don;t mind if we do. Fransisco Liriano, though may not do much for us at first unless he makes the rotation, he's dominant and won't hurt us. Plus, if (once) he breaks the rotation mid-season he'll give us a boost. maybe a bit risky pick I realize, especially with other holes we've got, but could pay off.

  • Round 12
  • There's no closers left. We realized that they'd go quick, even though they only give you one stat really (they can kill or help your ERA/WHIP each outing). But we need someone to fill the RP slots. Scott Linebrink, one of the best set up men in the game joins the team. Hoffman's old. Old people get hurt. That's our main logic behind this one and we're sticking to it.

  • Round 13
  • This one was a bit surprising. I wasn't sure why he dropped so far. Justin Verlander sat on the SP list and now he sat on our roster. Man we still don't have a catcher, 2B, third OF, or Util guy. uh oh.

  • Round 14
  • Util guy, s'util guy. The guy holding Liriano back is still out there so we'll pick him up. Scott Baker makes out growing list of SP's.

  • Round 15
  • OK, time to deal with the whole "lacking hitters" issue. Delmon Young joins the staff. I know he's not going to start. I know he's in the minors...for now. Once he comes up we won't have to worry about fighting over him through the waiver wire. And in such a deep league it doesn't hurt to hold a player with his potential on your bench until he comes up.

  • Round 16
  • C? 2B? OF? What's the next positional player we select? Like I said, with C and 2B unless you get a above average guy you shouldn't worry about them as much. So let's address another issue we have: OF. Matt Murton, who's starting OF with the Cubs this year, makes the squad and will serve as our 3rd OF guys. Glad we didn't miss out on this guy.

  • Round 17
  • Brian McCann comes in as our late catcher pick. He'll put up decent numbers this year and shouldn't hurt our AVG. Could be our best pick based on round and availability.

  • Round 18
  • We need 2B and UTIL. Every other team has a 2B so I think we can wait a round for that and there's one guy left worth drafting. Obviously at the point there's no power left, except for potential power. So what's the category many people seem to ingnore, or at least pass over for power? Speed. Joey Gathright becomes our UTIL player. With the demotion of Delmon Young and the injuries to Rocco Baldelli, Gathright has the inside track to a starting OF position with the Rays. He's nab us a bunch of steal and hopefully get us some runs as well. His AVG might hurt us, but he was still the best available at the positions we needed.

  • Round 19
  • DAMN! Josh Barfield was taken 2 picks after we selected Gathright. Why does a team want/need 2 second basemen? Well, we might as well dump the position all together now. Wait, what if? We draft Carl Pavano, who's going to start the season on the DL. Once he hits the DL we can pick up a 2B. Hope this works.

  • Round 20 + 21
  • We get rookie pitcher Kameron Loe and reliever Joaquin Benoit. We needed one more RP pitcher and Benoit since moving to the pen will help our ERA and is first in line for the TEX closer job in case Cordero goes down *cross your fingers* Loe's not a bad pick in the last 2 rounds.

    So there you have it. Any ideas on how we can get a 2B?

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    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    Home Spring Home

    Spring Training is a completely different experience for baseball fans. The fences are low, the field is close, the stands are smaller, and the players are more relaxed. It's a time where major league games are played in minor league parks, where tickets cost $15 rather than $50. A chance to see your favorite players in a more intimate atmosphere. All told, it's a fun time. Or is it?

    Planning on attending one of the last few Spring Training games this March? Can't get tickets to your team's home park? Are tickets cheaper at a close by stadium where your team will be visiting? Here's a tip: wait for next year.

    I've had the pleasure of attending a few Grapefruit League games this March and just about every time I was half-excited to see the players that showed up. At each game there was always one lineup that stood out much more than the other. There was a common trend throughout: it was always the home team that brought the names. Visiting teams rarely ever brought more than one or 2 of their best players. Even when it's a drive as short as Tampa to Dunedin (20 minutes). Here's a perfect example:

    Boston vs Toronto @ Knology Park in Dunedin, FL (Home of the Blue Jays).

    Here's the starting line up the Red Sox announced before the game:
    C - Ken Huckaby
    1B - J.T. Snow
    2B - Alejandro Machado
    SS - Alex Cora
    3B - Enrique Wilson
    RF - Adam Stern
    CF - Wllie Harris
    LF - Jeff Bailey
    DH - Dustan Mohr
    SP - Lenny DiNardo

    Here's the starting line-up the Red Sox will probably announce before most of their regular season games (according to the team's online depth chart:
    C - Jason Varitek
    1B - Kevin Youkalis/J.T. Snow
    2B - Mark Loretta
    SS - Alex Gonzalez
    3B - Mike Lowell
    RF - Trot Nixon
    CF - Coco Crisp
    RF - Manny Ramirez
    DH - David Ortiz
    SP - Josh Beckett/Curt Schilling/Matt Clement/David Wells

    Ok, fine, David Ortiz had a WBC semi-final game to lose against Cuba today and Jason Varitek just had the pleasure of sitting on the bench for most of the game while the USA lost its chance to play in the semi-finals, but all of the other starters, save Snow (who was actually ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes. A fan close to the field could be overheard yelling, "Hey Snow, shut the f*ck up. It's Spring Training!"), weren't even on the travel roster, nevermind the starting 9.

    This was a sold out crowd at Knology Park. One of the two the Blue Jays have had so far this year (the other being against the Yankees). Some smaller market teams need games like these to help their revenue. Luckily for the Jays, fans didn't realize the fact that there's no guarantee their favorite players will make the trip with them. The Red Sox website doesn't even list stats by starting LF Jeff Bailey, who's spent 3 years worth of Spring Training with the team since spending time with then Montreal Expos.

    So, if you can't catch a Spring Training game at your team's home field, and enjoy watching some of your team's journeymen, non-roster invitees, and AAA prospects, then by all means get tickets to an opponent's stadium when your team makes the trip. Have a good time watching a fun baseball game. Just don't be surprised if even some of the most avid fans don't recognize half of the starting line up.

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    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    World Baseball Classic Game Notes: Round 2

    South Korea has more games to play, thanks to the fact that they're actually really, really good.

    USA is out. Japan is in. All thanks to Mexico.

    Puerto Rico and Venezuela are out, thanks to Cuba and the Dominican Republic, who both advanced.

    A 2-1 loss for the Americans was just one of many situations that could have resulted that would not allow the US to advance.

    I'm with Eric Neel in some respects, perhaps it's best that the US doesn't win the inaugural event.

    I'm not sure what the winner of the WBC gets. Is it a plaque? Medals? Rings? Trophies? Well, South Korea wants to reward their players now, rather than waiting for them to make it to the final round. How kind of them. It just goes to show how professional athletes, no matter what country, and more important than the average person.

    Some tweaks could be made in 2009. Interestingly, Cuba wants to host it next time around. Bud Selig said during the Mexico/USA game that there were a lot of things they had to consider for WBC II.

    The WBC hasn't come cheap.

    So much for lack of injuries in the classic. Johnny Damon, Derrek Lee, and Adrian Beltre are all reporting problems.

    How are your brackets doing?

    Asia vs Caribbean. Who are you rooting for?

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    Shelden Williams: The Ugliest College Basketball Player Ever?

    The NCAA Tournament. A time when Cinderellas battle the cream of the crop. Where stars are born as dreams crumble. But who will come out on top?

    What's that? UConn? Oh, dear reader, you misunderstand. We're talking about the NCAA Tournament for the ugliest player of all-time.

    I've always been partial to Bill Walton, although, being from Boston, I can't count out Indiana State's Larry Bird (here looking like Rutger Hauer at his most rugged). However the last couple of years have seen a new contender rise: Shelden Williams of Duke.

    Shelden has that certain something, that panache, that makes him stand out above the others. Maybe it's his intense determination on the court, or his nose for the ball, or maybe it's even his gigantic forehead that seems to jut out just a little bit too far. Who's to say really? But one thing that can't be questioned is that Shelden Williams is not a good looking man. To be perfectly honest, he looks like he could have challenged for the role of Pluto in the update of The Hills Have Eyes.

    But I don't want to crown Shelden, or Walton, or any other famous ugly NCAA star without having a true contest for it. And that's why I'm asking for your help. In the comments section, give us some more of your picks for ugliest NCAA players of all-time. Then we'll stage our own Tournament and see who comes out on top! Because, as much as I'd love to give it to Shelden, the fact of the matter is, anything can happen in the NCAA Tournament!

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    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    NCAA Bracket Breakdown - First Two Rounds

    Editor's Note: The following is an article written by the newest member of Game Four who goes by the name "Cincy". Not much is known of this fellow, but everything he writes is his own opinion and may or may not reflect the thoughts and opinions of everyone else here at Game Four. We're not sure where he comes from or what he's doing here, but we'll allow it to continue...for now.

    With just over 12 hours until the tournament tips off, offices everywhere are rushing to fill in their last upsets. Look no further than right here my shirt-and-tie-wearing friends. Over the next several minutes, all of the NCAA's secrets will be revealed in front of your very eyes.

  • Atlanta

  • First, let's start in the Atlanta bracket. In my opinion, this bracket will be the most boring and predictable of them all. In my crystal ball I see all top 4 seeds advancing to the Sweet 16, with #1 seed Duke moving onto the Final Four after defeating #2 Texas convincingly.... again.

  • Oakland

  • The Oakland bracket is where I see many upset opportunities. Headlined by Conference USA Champion and #1 seed Memphis, this bracket holds the least amount of power. Memphis will struggle to make it out of the Sweet 16, where I predict they will fall to the Jayhawks of Kansas. The biggest upset of the tournament will also be staged in this bracket when the best player in the country, Adam Morrison, and his Gonzaga Bulldogs get bounced by #14 seed Xavier. Expect to see Xavier escape past Indiana in the second round before finally ending their Cinderella dreams in the Sweet 16. Look for #4 Kansas and #2 UCLA to survive onto the Sweet 16 from this bracket.

  • Washington, D.C.

  • In Washington D.C., three perennial champions will take to the court looking to continue their legacy of excellence. Expect all three (Kentucky, UNC, and UConn) to prevail in the first round. Other first round winners will include surprising #2 seed Tennessee, Michigan State, and Illinois. Expect #12 Utah State and #10 Seton Hall to pull off upsets in their first round matchups.

    The second round in this bracket should prove to be very enticing. I expect UNC and Illinois to move on rather easily, but the other two matchups could be more competitive upon further review than initially meets the eye. Tennessee enters the tournament as losers of 4 of their last 6 games, and often suffer lapses on defense. I expect Seton Hall's senior leaders, Kelly Whitney and Donald Copeland to make it tough for the Vols to put an end to their collegiate careers. In the end I think Coach Bruce Pearl's bright orange suit jacket will prove too much for the Pirates of Seton Hall, and they will be sent home after the second round.

    The final second round match up in this bracket could very well be the most intriguing 1 vs. 8 matchup in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Uconn and Kentucky are two programs rich in tradition but who find themselves in very different roles this season. All season UConn has been picked as possibly the most talented team in the country, while Tubby Smith's boys in Lexington have had to deal with the title of underachiever. Both teams are coming into the tourney following losses in their respective conference tournaments. Kentucky will look to play a new role in the tournament -- spoiler, and also show a nation of critics that this team is as good as its #12 preseason ranking. In the end though, expect to see UConn's considerable size advantage win out. I anticipate a struggle for both teams with UConn coming out on top.

  • Minneapolis

  • In the final bracket to be played out in Minneapolis, don't expect too many upsets in the first two rounds. All top seeds will advance in the first rounds with the exception of Oklahoma and Arizona. #11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee and their in-state neighbor, #9 Wisconsin will be playing the role of upsetters here before being extinguished in the second round. No upsets in the second round of this region though, as I expect all top four seeds to make it to the Semis.

    There you have it, straight from the little crystal ball that came as a prize from the inside of my cereal box. The first two rounds should be very interesting. One things for certain, the tournament is almost impossible to predict, but if you follow my advice you'll be guaranteed not to lose. Well, to me anyway. Because we'll have the same picks. I can't promise anything beyond that. Either way, rush out and get your chips and dip early, the tournament tips off at 12:20 et on CBS.

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    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    In Maryland We Trust

    Three consecutive league titles and one state championship. 26.6 points per game as a four year starter. McDonald’s All-American. 2004 Naismith Award finalist. Drafted 13th overall right out of high school.

    Does that sound like Steve Blake’s backup to you?

    If you missed “Through the Fire,” the documentary of New York basketball star Sebastian Telfair’s final season at Abraham Lincoln High School, you missed one of the best ESPN originals in a long time. You don’t have to be a basketball fan to appreciate the Hollywood-worthy story of a poverty-stricken youth from Coney Island, playing his senior season in the shadow of LeBron James’s $90 million shoe contract. He, along with seven other 2004 high school All-Americans, decided to skip college and go directly to the NBA.

    The movie depicts Telfair’s “struggle” with deciding whether he should attend Louisville, with whom he’d already signed a letter of commitment, or go straight to the NBA. As previously mentioned, the seventeen year old chooses to go pro, but at what cost?

    Even just one year under Head Coach Rick Pitino would have improved Telfair’s game immensely. Not only that, but imagine him on the 2005 Louisville team that advanced to the Final Four, playing alongside Taquan Dean, Francisco Garcia, and Larry O’Bannon. We might not have been able to celebrate North Carolina Coach Roy Williams’s first NCAA Championship, but instead we would have had it gift-wrapped and delivered to Pitino. Instead, the kid from NYC spends most of his time on the bench these days, nibbling at the bits of playing time he can manage to pilfer on a struggling Portland Trail Blazers team (20-42 as of 3/14).

    One thing Sebastian Telfair won’t have to nibble on, however, is food. At least, not until his 6 year, $15 million contract with Adidas runs out. So I'll ask again: Does that sound like Steve Blake’s backup to you? Yeah, me neither.

    And that makes us both very, very wrong.

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    What It All Means

    Quarterback situations are changing all over the NFL. Drew Brees is traveling to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild the New Orleans Saints and getting a boatload of money to do so. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins received a boatload of a different type when they traded for Daunte Culpepper.

    What does this all mean for the teams involved? Let's see...

  • San Diego:
  • They actually get to see Phillip Rivers play. What a concept. Perhaps the 2 years off helped him get ready and wasn't a setback, but any more than that would have hurt the young QB, especially when he's compared to the other first round quarterbacks taken in the 2004 draft (with the notable exception of J.P. Losman). The fact of the matter is, it's tough to measure up to those guys if he doesn't play. It'll be funny to see if he pushes the Chargers back to the playoffs in his first year, but I don't see that happening in the very competitive AFC.

  • Saints:
  • This was probably the best move they could have made. The top of the draft is loaded with top-rated (hyped?) quarterbacks. There are a couple teams that would need a new signal-caller (Raiders? Jets? Titans?) and perhaps they're willing to trade up to the #2 pick to have their choice of Matt Leinart, Vince Young, or the rapidly rising Jay Cutler. If I'm the Saints, I'm definitely trading down in the 1st round and getting another pick along with it to help improve an already fairly solid roster, when taking into account their draft position. The Saints really aren't that awful. They had a horrible year, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that Deuce McCallister was out most of the year. The NFC isn't nearly as competitive as the AFC, so if the Saints make the right moves, it's tough to count them out in the NFC playoff race. Just look at the blueprint their working off of in the Chargers, a team that was expected to be one of the worst teams in the league but instead went 12-4 and won the AFC West.

  • Dolphins:
  • Superbowl contender? Maybe, but it's certainly no guarantee, especially if Culpepper gets hurt again. Howevever, this is a team that was already showing significant improvement by season's end, which means that at the very least they're strong wild card contenders. There's even a possibility they challenge the Patriots for the AFC East crown. The Patriots have a lot of key guys on the Free Agent list including Willie McGinest, David Givens, and Adam Vinatieri. There's mixed reaction around New England concerning the future of their clutch kicker, Given has already accepted a deal with the Titans, and the other most sought-after wideout on the market, Antwaan Randle El has already signed with the the team in the nation's capital. McGinest, thought to be a sure bet to re-up with the Patriots, has plans to visit Browns camp, and you can bet it's for a better reason than just to say "hello" to former New England coach Romeo Crennel.

  • Vikings:
  • Brad Johnson is their starting QB. Do they trade up? Do they draft a QB this year? Next? A lot of uncertainy beyond 2006 for them.

  • Raiders:
  • They don't even have a starting QB according to their own team depth chart. Are Marques Tuiasosopo, Andrew Walter and Reggie Robertson starting material? Some may take the chance and others may even feel they are of decent quality. The Raiders obviosuly don't feel that way sicne they were in the running for Culpepper, but were unwilling to trade away a 2nd round pick. Perhaps they trade up. Then again, the Raiders need a lot more than just a QB at this point and maybe that's why they weren't willing to part ways with a 2nd rounder.

  • Titans:
  • Do they guarantee their choice of one of the top QB's in the draft by trading with the Saints? Or do they take what's left after the Jets pick and hope the Saints pick a defensive powerhouse with the 2nd pick and no other teams beat them to the punch? How much pull will Norm Chow have in the decision-making process?

  • Jets:
  • Nothing really changed for them. The best thing that could happen, if they really are looking at one of the top QB options, is the Saints don't trade their pick, they select D'Brickashaw Ferguson with the 2nd pick, and then the Jets get their choice of Young, Cutler or Leinart. Worst case scenario some other team trades up and picks the QB the Jets really wanted and they're "stuck" with one of those other guys. There's obviosuly no reason they should trade up. Perhaps keeping all their picks and building around those players makes the most sense.

    In any event, a busy day for the NFL QB carousel. It's almost enough to make you forget about college basketball. Almost.

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    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    After Thinking About It...

    I still feel Bob Davidson, the home plate umpire, made the wrong call. The only thing I'm going to change about my opinion is that perhaps they did not over rule it based on Buck Martinez's argument. Perhaps Davidson is just the one who didn't think Tsuyoshi Nishioka waited long enough to tag up. That's how it's being reported anyway. I mean, that's still a bad call, and it's not good for the WBC, but it is much better than having the call changed because a manager argued the fact.

    The problem I have with this is that it seemed like Davidson had plenty of time to overrule the 2nd base umpire Brian Knight's 'safe' call at third base. Perhaps he didn't. I wasn't there. I just watched it live on ESPN2. But Davidson is also the umpire that was fired back in 1999 and wasn't reinstated to MLB until 2004. And his strike zone was all over the place during this particular game. And he doesn't have a great track record. I don't know, but either way it's still not good and I hope it doesn't come back to haunt the WBC later on.

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    Buck Martinez, Your Prescription Is Ready. Which Frames Would You Like?

    Right when I go out and completely praise the World Baseball Classic, something that many aren't doing outside of Bud Selig and a few other blogs, they go an make a incredibly wrong call during the USA/Japan game.

    Basically, there's no reason why the call should have been called back at third base. Tsuyoshi Nishioka left for home to score the go-ahead run. It was contested that he left the bag before Randy Winn caught the ball in shallow left field. Called safe. Argued by Buck Martinez. Overturned. Boneheaded call. This isn't MLB, there should be no reason why they don't use instant replay. WTA is starting to use it. NFL uses it. Why not the WBC? MLB is worried it will slow down an already time-consuming sport. But this is the first WBC. An international tournament that is hoped to spread baseball further than it has already gone around the globe. There's a lot of pressure to make the right calls and to do the right things. This is not a step in the right direction.

    The worst part is, when the call was contested it was originally called "safe". Now, when the USA argued the call, there was discussion and it was overruled. There's no reason why the umpires should have even entertained the argument made by Buck Martinez. There should be no negotiations once they make a call, especially when the original call was the correct one.

    As my roommate just said across the room, "And America wonders why the rest of the world hates us?" Maybe a bit extreme, but this can't look good to anyone except the USA team.

    Yes, the home plate umpire has final call. If the 2nd base umpire didn't see the play perfectly, fine. But that's not the argument here. The fact is that it was the wrong call, and it was wrong by a long shot. You need to give all these players, no matter what country they're from, the benefit of the doubt in those situations in my mind. They know what they're doing. Especially the professionals from Japan. These are players that take sportsmanship to a new level. They even feel sliding in hard to second base to break up a double play is "ungentlemen-like". I feel they know how to tag up, especially against Randy Winn.

    "Make sure you get the call right. 'We will' And thank God he did because he obviously left early," Buck Martinez was quoted to saying after the game on ESPN2. I want to see the look on his face when he sees the replay.

    Editor's Note: After the game, ESPN's first write up on the game doesn't even mention the incident. I think the WBC is lucky in the respect that this happened on the same day the NCAA men's basketball brackets were announced so all the attention will be on that on Monday.

    Editor's Note: Sports Illustrated reported about the incident. They really downplay it, but at least they put some light on it. They either did a great job of downplaying the call, or they did a good job of presenting it in a way where it just isn't as big a deal as it actually could be.

    Editor's Note: I have updated my opinion here.

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    Saturday, March 11, 2006

    The Makings of a Classic

    The first round of the first (of hopefully many) World Baseball Classic has given Bud Selig just about everything it needed to to set a foundation for an incredible international tournament, and nothing it didn't need.

    It has given us upsets, but not to a degree that it would belittle the tournament. Sure, Canada beat the USA. That was exciting. Especially for these fans. But the USA still made it to the next round, something the WBC desperately needed to keep the TV ratings up. The USA doesn't need to win, and perhaps to help the future of the international pull of the tournament itself, the USA shouldn't win the whole thing, but Selig desperately needed the USA to make it to the 2nd round. Another upset was Japan's loss to Korea, who went undefeated in the first round. Ichiro talked some smack about their opponent, and one would think he got the juices flowing for the pair of round two teams from across the Pacific.

    It has given us dominance. On the last day it gave us some blow outs, and true this may have "embarrassed" the teams getting the short end of the stick, but everyone likes seeing highlights of the long ball, and the US of A hit 9 in their game against the South African team. And yes, I am the person who about all the reasons why fans should watch out for South Africa in the WBC, but what can I say? Everyone makes mistakes.

    It has given us the 8 best teams in the second round. Honestly, there's no reason anyone besides the Dominican Republic and Venezuela (the recently crowned Caribbean Series champion) should have made it past Australia and Italy. How is your WBC bracket looking so far?

    It has given us pride and rivalries. The tournament wasn't expected to be a great draw due to the fact that there wasn't much history to it. And there weren't too many rivalries. These rivalries are starting to form. Some had been festering in the Carribean Series and now are able to be put on a world stage. Others are starting to form here. More may rise up in the later rounds. One can only hope. Rivalries drive many sports and many leagues.

    It gave us a NO-HITTER. Well, sort of. Sure it was through 7 innings thanks to the mercy rule, but it's still an incredible feat considering the rules set in place in the WBC. Netherlands' pitcher Shairon Mathis threw exactly 65 pitches, the WBC pitch count limit. It was the 7th inning, the Netherlands were up 10-0 over Panama, which means if Panama doesn't score at least one run by the end of the inning the game's over thanks to the WBC's Mercy Rule of a 10-run difference after 7 innings, and there were still 2 outs with a man on 1st. Mathis had just thrown 64 pitches. His 65th pitch got Cesar Quintero to ground into a double play, ending the game for the teams involved, rather than just himself. Mathis would have been taken out of the game regardless of the outcome of that pitch due to his pitch count and WBC regulations. Another great part of this whole situation for Mathis: He allowed two base runners. One due to an error and one due to a walk. He did not strike out one batter. So respect has to be given to not only Mathis, but the defense of his team behind him. This was a great part of an otherwise meaningless game in the 2006 WBC, since both teams' chances of making the 2nd round were already erased by Cuba and Puerto Rico.

    It has given us controversy. Now, controversy isn't usually a good thing, but for a fledgling tournament like this, any news is good news. The sign held up at the Cuba game that translated to "Down With Castro" gave sports reporters something more to talk about. Cuba didn't even attend the after-game press conference. My thoughts? Yes, it's a free country. Yes, we have freedom of speech. These are great things. But as I'm sure others have discussed, if someone had held up a "Down with Bush" sign, it would have been taken down quicker than the sign put up by Yankees officials apologizing to fans for the lack of superstars at Spring Training games. (Please note how the sign misspells "Yankees" as "Yankess") The Cuban team shouldn't have taken it so personally however. Perhaps political signs don't have a place at sporting events. Sure, there's freedom of speech. But that does that mean you expect to hear "Yankees Suck" chants at a 3 Doors Down concert? Sometimes you do, but it doesn't mean it's right.

    Though it was a major concern before the WCB started, it hasn't given us a major injury (knock on wood). Bud Selig praises the TV ratings and the lack of injuries, the biggest fear of MLB GM's and owners paying many of the WBC participants their multi-million dollar salaries. Injuries kept players out of the WBC, but no MLB players have reported any injuries during the tournament.

    The Baseball Desert likes the WBC as well. They even argue against SI's reasons why the WBC has done things wrong thus far.

    All in all, the World Baseball Classic has delivered thus far. And for the best. Let's just hope the next 3 rounds are just as good, if not better.

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    Friday, March 10, 2006

    We Love T-Shirts

    Game Four is happy to announce its involvement in two blog related Fantasy Baseball leagues. One, organized by BaseballGeeks involves twenty total teams selected by the guys over at baseballgeeks.com and the other, organized by SportsBlah, will be run on ESPN, and it gives us the chance to win a T-shirt! We love T-shirts. Only catch, we only would get one T-shirt to share amoung the entire staff. Perhaps it'll be like the Stanley Cup and we'll be able to take it for an allotted amount of time and do whatever it is we want with it during that time. But maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

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    Another Welcome

    Game Four is also proud to welcome newly acquired writer Jose. Game Four was able to pry Jose away from the EHCC. We're very happy to have him here and look forward to his unique outlook on, well, everything.

    If you are interested in writing for Game Four, please e-mail Conor.GameFour@gmail.com

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    Four Notes To Consider

  • MLS

  • The Sports Law Blog talks about how the Austrian company that makes Red Bull purchased the MLS franchise New York/New Jersey Metrostars. Although I'm a fan of the fact that they got rid of the whole New York/New Jeresy portion of the team name, I'm not sure how I feel about the new name.

  • NFL

  • The Oakland Raiders cut QB Kerry Collins. Now they need a new offensive leader and the rumors have been swirling around a possible Moss-Culpepper reunion. What a bad idea that would be for the franchise, but a great thing it would be for fantasy owners of both Moss and Culpepper next year.

  • NCAA Basketball: Big East

  • Syracuse men just beat Georgetown, becoming the first team to win a game in the Big East tournament after winning their previous game in overtime. The best part of this game was not so much Syracuse's comeback from 15 back earlier in the game, but the fact that Syracuse NEVER had the lead in the game except for the last 5 seconds of play.

  • NBA

  • According to the Boston Globe's Celtics Blog, the team is fun to watch for one simple reason: they aren't very good. I love how people can make being a "not-so-great" team into a good thing for fans. But, as the Sports Guy puts it, the Celtics are actually quite good. The main reason: Paul Pierce having a career year.

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    Grienke Still in the Wrong Spring Training State

    Once referred to as the next Brett Saberhagen, Zack Grienke has decided to take a break instead. Grienke, who is still hanging out in sunny Florida, isn't partaking in the Royals' Spring Training festivities. Mainly because the Royals facility is located across the gulf in Arizona, partly because Grienke is having some, well, personal issues.

    The question here is how dod the Royals not see this coming. Jeffery Flannagan of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals say there's no way they could have seen the problems coming.

    You know what could have been a big part of it? Former KC pitching coach Guy Hansen. For whatever reason Guy thought Grienke should throw a bit harder than what he was used to. According to Zack's official web site, Hansen also tried to move Grienke to the other side of the rubber. Instead of taking a control pitcher like Grienke and molding him into a better version of himself, why not try to change the very aspect of what makes him so good? Great idea! Perhaps that's the biggest reason why Grienke's stats plummeted last year. Perhaps the reason Grienke is reevaluating his place in baseball right now. For a 22 year old kid to be so good and then so terrible for such a terrible team can do a lot for his psyche. A 22 year old kid in the Show needs all the confidence he can get, so when you go and tinker with his mechanics for the worse, it's going to hurt more than just his stats. If you want to draft a fireballing pitcher, draft one. Obviously that's not what the Royals wanted when they drafted Grienke. Hansen should try being what he was paid to be: a pitching coach. Not a magician.

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    Thursday, March 09, 2006


    We here at Game Four would like to welcome our newest writer, JJ, to the Game Four family. We hope our loyal readers will embrace his teachings with open arms and not so much like that of a Kendra Davis reaction to other women drivers.

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    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Godzilla Sighting All Year Round

    Hideki Matsui is so popular he warrants his own Media entourage.

    At today's Blue Jays/Yankees Spring Training game in Dunedin, Florida a group of Japanese cameramen, reporters, and various other media related people were spotted piling into the press box at Knology Park. They were there for one reason, and one reason only: to write down and document every step and every breath the Yankee import made during his time in their view.

    My buddy Brad had some free time and caught up with the media group in an elevator toward the end of the game. He asked them some simple questions.

    "Matsui?" he asked.
    "Ya, ya, Matsui," with much enthusiasm they responded.
    "What about Ichiro?" Brad followed up with.
    "No, no Ichiro!" they scowled.
    "World Baseball Classic?"
    "No, no"
    "Godzilla?" Brad joked
    "YA! Godzilla! Ya" they again responded in an enthusiastic manner.
    "So you guys just follow Hideki around and that's it?" Brad asked
    "Ya. Matsui." they responded and then followed with a question themselves in broken english, "Why does he," referring to the Blue Jays Spring Training PA announcer Ed, "call him 'HEE-deck-EE'. He's 'Hi-dek-EE'"
    Brad laughed and instead of defending the announcer for reasons other than just the fact that he enjoyed talking to this interesting media group, "'Cuz he sucks."
    "Ohhhh", the group understood.

    It's crazy to think that one man can stir up enough newsworthy information for a group of people that he warrants his own private media group that won't even bother covering anything else.

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