Thursday, March 31, 2011

Loving the Phillies in Giants country

I grew up watching sports peripherally at best. My dad worked out of state and overseas for a good portion of my childhood. I had a short love affair with the 49ers in middle school (the end of the Niner dynasty) that fizzled out when I started high school and had more important things to worry about. Namely making the volleyball team. I was plain old too busy to pay attention to sports on TV or go to games, despite having six major teams in my backyard (49ers, Raiders, Giants, A's, Warriors and Sharks. All within an hour). My high school boyfriend was an A's fan. Over the 4 years we dated I watched a handful of games, usually under protest. My biggest contribution to the games we watched was usually "I like the Giants colors much better. It reminds me of Halloween" (yup, I was That Girlfriend -- and I still really like things that remind me of Halloween).

I became a "real" sports fan in my early 20's. I lived in LA for a year and spent that year dating a Philadelphia transplant. I became a Philly fan by default (the only team I've retained any local loyalty to are the Warriors). I got my first Eagles and Phillies gear for Hanukkah that year, we watched games nightly, including the last game ever played at The Vet. Somehow I'd become a real fan in the few weeks we'd been dating and I cried like a baby. We had plans to go back east and go to a game at Citizens Bank Park but the relationship ended when I moved back to the San Francisco area.

Since my lone Philadelphian I've dated half a dozen guys who have been as different as could be, except one thing. Every single one of them have been Giants fans. Every single one of them have given me shit over it, mostly good naturedly. I don't hate the Giants, I really don't (I may harbor a not-so-secret crush on Brian Wilson. And maybe one on Buster Posey. I can neither confirm nor deny). I might go so far as to say they're my NL west team. But I fell in love with the Philadelphia Phillies of Philadelphia and they've been good to me. I come across a lot of people who think that I'm not a real fan because I didn't grow up bleeding red and white, because I'm not from Philly, because I've never been to a game (yeah, yeah, I know. It's changing this season, I swear), because I have the Giants and the A's in my backyard and why not them?

Because. Because a sweet boy spent his afternoons and evenings teaching me about baseball, and the NL vs the AL (and like any good NL fan I think the designated hitter is crap), and that the Phils are the oldest one-name, one-city franchise in all of American pro sports. Because of Hamels, Lidge, Howard, Utley (OH, CHASE), Halladay (and his PERFECT GAME IN MAY), Oswalt, Victorino, their 4 consecutive NL East titles, because the entire team is in the middle of an eternal love affair with the fans and the city of Philadelphia. Oh, and that little thing that happened on December 15, 2010 when that beautiful blue eyed Clifton Phifer Lee turned down more money from the Yankees (can we all agree they're the Devil?) to come home to Philadelphia saying "I never wanted to leave in the first place." Cliff, it was mutual. I have never been as excited for baseball as I am this year. I believe Zoo With Roy probably said it best with their OMG! Ask me about our pitching staff t-shirt.

I'm not one for making predictions, but this feels like our year. Just saying.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Team #2

Second fantasy baseball draft was last night. Another H2H, ten-team league. Categories a little different, as well as positions.

Hitting categories:
  • Runs
  • RBIs
  • Home runs
  • Stolen bases
  • Batting average

Pitching categories:
  • Wins
  • Saves
  • Strikeouts
  • ERA
  • WHIP

I ended up with the 10th pick in the snake draft, which is okay, because I got bookends! The thing about the people in this league--they draft a little crazy. People reach like crazy for some strange players. Also, I've noticed that pitchers always go pretty quickly. This season, I think they may have gone more quickly than ever. For example, I was intending to draft Roy Halladay with my first or second pick. I knew it was a reach, but he wasn't coming back to me and I wanted to own him. Instead, someone took him with the 7th pick. Jesus. The end result of pitchers going so quickly was that someone like Brian Roberts was available in the last round (or close to the last round). Hitters are on FA that kinda have no business being there. Ah, well. Someone's gotta drop a great pitcher some time, right? Right?

Anyway, my team.

Catcher: Geovany Soto (I came so, so close to landing McCann, but apparently that was the round people decided they wanted hitters. The person who has McCann is starting him in the utility spot.)
First base: Miguel Cabrera
Second base: Ian Kinsler
Third base: David Wright
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
Outfielders: Justin Upton, Colby Rasmus, Dexter Fowler, Angel Pagan, Vladimir Guerrero, Nick Markakis
Starting pitchers: Yovanni Gallardo, Dan Haren, Trevor Cahill, Jorge de la Rosa, Jaime Garcia, Brandon Morrow, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Webb
Relief pitchers: Neftali Feliz, Francisco Cordero, Kevin Gregg

I feel like this always happens in this league, but I'm just not really feeling my team. For one thing, I have a lot of overlap with my other fantasy team in terms of players and they're generally not players I wanted to own in both leagues (like Pagan, Vlad, de la Rosa). Also, I really kinda hate that I own Derek Jeter. He was the best available and shortstops kinda fell off a cliff in terms of value after him, but still. I don't like that I own him. At least I have Upton, Gallardo, and Haren, three players I really like. Guess we'll see how this goes.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Team #1

Did my first fantasy draft of the season on Friday night for a league in which I am the defending champion. (Last time I was defending champ in this league, I fell to dead last the next season. Here's hoping that doesn't happen this time around.) Ten team head-to-head league, with the following categories.

  • Runs
  • RBIs
  • Stolen bases
  • Walks
  • Strikeouts
  • Total bases

  • Wins
  • Saves
  • Walks
  • Strikeouts
  • ERA
  • WHIP

By some miracle, I ended up with the first pick in the snake draft. (I shudder to think of what karma has in store for me in my next draft on Tuesday.) You know what that means. PUJOLS, BABY, PUJOLS.

This is my team:

Catcher: Carlos Santana (no, not that Carlos Santana, this Carlos Santana)
First base: Albert Pujols
Second base: Brandon Phillips
Third base: Casey McGehee
Shortstop: Starlin Castro
Outfielders (including a center fielder position): Nick Swisher, Josh Hamilton, Jason Heyward, Brett Gardner, Dexter Fowler, Vladimir Guerrero, and Angel Pagan.
Starting pitchers: Tim Lincecum, David Price, Jorge De la Rosa, Ian Kennedy, Mat Latos, Trevor Cahill, and Johan Santana (who will obviously be stashed on the DL until he comes back)
Relief pitchers: Brian Wilson, Jose Valverde, Matt Capps, and Brian Fuentes.

There's a total of five bench positions--in my case, two bench hitters and three bench pitchers--and two DL spots.

This is an interesting team that I think has a lot of upside, but also some risk. There are some young players on my team, some of whom are proven (Lincecum, Price) and some who are not (Castro, Santana). I have a bit of a hole when it comes to third base. I currently have my eye on Michael Moustaka, of the Royals, but he won't be up before June, due to arbitration, etc. I also have a problem at closer--right now, I own two and two-half closers. Andrew Bailey will probably be shelved for a couple of weeks at the start of the season, so Fuentes will probably get some saves (along with Grant Balfour), but if Bailey's healthy, he's the closer. Capps is, of course, backing up Joe Nathan in Minnesota. He'll get some saves while Nathan is getting back to form, but like the situation in Oakland, once Nathan's back, the job is his. I'll have to keep an eye on the closers thread at FBC, which is always annoying because you have to sift through stupid comments to get to things of substance. Sigh.

Overall, I like my team, but it's a different sort of team than I've owned in the past, so we'll see how it works out.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kim Ng leaving Dodgers to become MLB's senior VP of baseball operations

Big news! Kim Ng, the (now former) vice president and assistant GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is leaving her current position to become the senior vice president of baseball operations for MLB, rejoining former Dodgers manager Joe Torre.

It's a bit of an unexpected step for Ng, who hopes to become the first female GM in the league and whose name has been listed as a candidate for the position in the past with at least three teams. Still, it's a great opportunity and I hope her path eventually takes her where she wants to go. It would be fantastic to see a female GM in the league. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Good resources for you fantasy baseball managers out there

Baseball Prospectus 2011. Good in-depth analysis of teams and players, including previous stats, projected stats, chances of breakout/improvement/collapse, and comparisons to other players. Includes a smaller section on minor league players. This book was invaluable to me when I was first starting out as a fantasy baseball manager--I'm pretty sure I cross-referenced every player I thought about drafting in this book. A new edition is published every year, released around February, just in time for spring training. Pick one up (and do it at Amazon, so much cheaper than B&N or other bookstores).

Also a resource I use a lot: Fantasy Baseball Cafe. It has articles, mock drafts, podcasts, rankings, and, most useful, user forums. You'll have to create an account and log in in order to be able to post to the forums. One thread that is very popular (and thus peppered with more useless posts than most others) is the closers thread that keeps managers up to date with who's closing where, including a very helpful first page that keeps track of who the primary closer is, what their grip on the job is, and who's lurking to take over. There's also a Cafe for fantasy football, basketball, and hockey.