What is happening in your area everybody? I feel like I need a warm-up for my fantasy football guide (which I'll start to work feverishly on pretty soon). Also, as the title of this column suggests, I think we need something else to pontificate about other than...you know...
Stuff Happening In The G.B.: As horrible as this sounds, I was not at all surprised that Adam Scott blew his load on the back 9 on Sunday. It's unfortunate, but you can do really well in the regular season, and then just not show up when it matters (I'm looking at you Vancouver). The guy is a hell of a talent, but his time simply isn't now...he definitely has the ability to overcome this. Hopefully he takes this all as motivation...he's not like Van de Velde...the guy will be back.
Big Ern is once again above the law. Four birdies on the back 9, shooting mid 60s when everyone else was going mid 70s. Also, he has one of the more appropriate nicknames of all time...let me see if I can turn this into a list...
The Top 10 Most Appropriate Sports Nicknames...We'll Say Of The Past Like Twenty To Thirty Years:
- "Primetime" - Deion Sanders: As far as I'm concerned, this will never be topped...ever.
- "Showtime" - Lakers: Yes, I'm including teams...this way there will be less names of individuals that I'll leave out because while attempting to do the best I can, I'll probably leave someone out...anywho...with Magic running the show, everyone in Hollywood had to be there...but much like many of the celebrities that go to Fenway, they were really into the shit...they weren't "pink-hatting" it as we like to say (that is a common misconception...that celebrities want to be there because it's the place to be...not really...the pink hats are the ones who want to go a game because it's the thing to do...you look at people like Affleck and Eliza Dushku (beyond strikingly beautiful), they actually know their shit...it's like Jack and Whoopi back in the day in LA).
- "The Great One" - Wayne Gretzky: He is and will always be the greatest ever.
- "The Bad Boys" - Pistons: When you watch the film of these guys, it reminds you that there was a time when you could get away with some wild shit in the NBA.
- "The Human Highlight Reel" - Dominique Wilkins: There is the possibility that because 'Nique had some "average" years at the end of his career, he is not as highly regarded as he should be. His numbers are amazing, and he is the only guy who could ever take Jordan when he was in his prime.
- "The Big Easy" - Ernie Els: Luke Donald is attempting to take Els off of the throne of "best mechanical, powerful, and yet extremely effortless looking swings" platform, but after this stunning comeback and a fourth major, the Big Easy is back.
- "Big Papi" - David Ortiz: Call me a homer, but you look at the guy...I mean who even calls him David Ortiz anymore? I go for Papi or Big Papi like every time.
- "White Chocolate"/"The Professor" - Jason Williams/Grayson Boucher: I had to get an And 1 Mixtape reference in here somehow...why ESPN2 decided to stop running those in the afternoon I'll never know. Anyway, what you have is the exact same player, except one was in the NBA, and one was on the playground...and when they were both on, they were electric.
- "Megatron" - Calvin Johnson: In spoiling my fantasy preview a little bit, receivers and, yes, tight ends are going higher in fantasy drafts than we have ever seen...it speaks to how much elite pass-catchers are regarded.
- "The Wizard" - Ozzie Smith: You have to give it up for this one. First off, Ozzie Smith was a literal wizard in the field...probably the slickest defensive shortstop to ever live. Then, when you factor in that you can combo it into "The Wizard of Oz," that puts it over the top in my opinion.
Honorable Mentions: "The Truth" - Paul Pierce, "The Answer" - Allen Iverson, "The Mailman" - Karl Malone, "The Excellence of Execution"/"The Best There Is, The Best There Was, And The Best There Ever Will Be" - Bret Hart, "The Big Ticket" - Kevin Garnett, "Playmaker" - Michael Irvin, "Joey Bats" - Jose Bautista...and all the other cool ones I'm missing.
So the Open Championship is over, now it's time for the Olympics. I'm really surprised how intrigued people have been about the U.S. Olympic tryouts. I'm at parties on a Saturday night and seeing people huddled around a TV watching swimming and track and field, barber shops full of guys watching the men's gymnastic qualifiers...it's fascinating...but in a good way.
I will say this: I don't know a whole lot about many of the athletes in it, but I will say that there is an interesting occurrence happening with Michael Phelps, in that the story of Ryan Lochte is trumping him...and I don't think anyone ever thought Phelps would ever be topped, but don't you find yourself secretly hoping that Lochte breaks out this year? Other than that, I'm hoping the US does well, and if they lose, its because some guy/girl/team from some other country did some crazy good shit to win.
Why The Red Sox Are Not Doing Well: I understand that the locker room is bad...I get that, but the game is not played in the locker room. Baseball is the most 1-on-1 of all the major sports if you think about it, and while team chemistry and feeling good about your teammates is important, it's not going to necessarily mean that you can't win games. Let's do a short analysis here...
- You Still Know Exactly When They Are Going To Blow A Game: The new look Sox that were winning championships were winning games we have never seen the Red Sox win (most notably Games 4 and 5 of the '04 ALCS and Game 6 of the '07 ALCS...I know those were a little more important than the regular season, but it's always a good time to bring them up). So if you're sitting at home, and you know they're going to blow it, you can probably imagine the guys in the dugout know too.
- They Have Tons Of Talent, But They Can't Seem To Catch Fire At The Same Time: This was also the case last year outside of one month give or take.
- Consistent Starting Pitching: Could you even imagine if John Lackey was healthy how much more obvious this section would be?
- Trading Josh Reddick and Letting Jonathan Papelbon Go: While Cody Ross has been brilliant as of late, the fact remains that Reddick would have brought some stability to a position that has been a revolving door that has included the likes of Adrian Gonzalez. Then there's Papelbon...the fact that they just f___ed with him one too many times and he was not about to let the team run him (this is now being referred to as getting Ray Allen'd). While Aceves has been great now, the fact remains that because they let Pap go, they felt compelled to trade for Andrew Bailey, and thus, trading Reddick (and we come full circle).
- Lack Of Pitching Coming Through The Minors: This is tough because I feel like it's tougher to make the transition from minor league pitcher to major league than it is hitting-wise (just ask Trevor Bauer), but even so, the last guy to really break through was Clay Buchholz and he debuted like five years ago (you may recall Felix Doubront actually debuted before Clay and he is just coming on now). Hopefully Matt Barnes will be ready to see some action next year as he is by far and away the best we have right now with Anthony Ranaudo coming undone in AA (he's actually now on the DL with a "dead arm"...no good).
- The Media Pounds The Shit Out Of This Team Like It's Their Job: It seems like now these guys are looking for something, anything totally negative to talk about all the time. We're not talking about Will Middlebrooks breaking out, or Jacoby Ellsbury returning to the lineup a year removed from being 2nd in the MVP vote, the fact that Scott Atchinson has been brilliant after being the "dude we bring in to eat up innings in a blowout" guy last year...no...we just hear the clubhouse sucks and no one's happy...and you wonder why they're not happy? These guys are well compensated yes, but there is also the emotional element of the job. I know personally, I have been in positions when working when I felt like there was absolutely no way of pleasing my superiors and was almost under the impression that they were rooting against me...I bet like a few of these guys are feeling the same way right about now.
- Health: Pedroia and Ellsbury have been the big ones, but we would have really liked to see Carl Crawford and Andrew Bailey because in both cases, the return has yet to be seen, and while Crawford played for us last year, he only showed flashes of what he brings to the table. Bailey is likely the eighth inning guy that we have been lacking now that Aceves has blossomed into a closer this year.
- Daniel Bard: Speaking of eighth inning guys, Bard's present career has tanked due to his and the team's indecisiveness on how to use him. He wanted to be a starter, but I think what he failed to realize is that on this team, his best use was a set-up man, so in putting his personal aspirations of starting ahead of the team, he probably cost himself this season and the Sox 8-10 games because of it. While I get why he wants to do it (you make more money and he apparently is more comfortable doing it), he picked the wrong time to do it (he was very effective, then became very shaky at the end of last season...unless someone is proving they should be given a promotion, you can't let them call the shots like that).
So, there's basically what I think of that. They actually have a chance to make the postseason based on the personnel, but I would really expect them to go after a good set-up man (Aaron Crow from the Royals comes to mind), because that's the last of the chinks in the armor that can be fixed (no one is trading for Jon Lester and especially Josh Beckett unless they get them for nothing, and right now, you're going to have to trade big pieces of the future to get a Cole Hamels or a Zack Greinke, so forget about fixing the pitching staff, which is the only other thing they need).
Fantasy Baseball In The Second Half: For all those who had Mike Trout from Day 1 (which includes me in my Lynchburg league), congratulations...you're probably at least close to the top just because of that. If not, here are some things to watch out for in the coming months:
- Wil Myers: What I am learning: The youth movement has been pushed by hitters, and not pitchers. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper...yes...Trevor Bauer?...not so much. So, the next big thing is Myers, who should be in KC already if they weren't paying Francoeur so much money (sorry Jeff, you were recruited to be a QB at Clemson...I'm not the most sympathetic guy when it comes to those in the orange and purple). In Yahoo, he's eligible at catcher...so when he finally does come up, he will be eligible at catcher AND outfield, a combo that to my knowledge has never been seen before. There is going to be a literal mutiny in and around Kaufman Stadium if he's not out there soon.
- Trade Deadline: What this mostly means is tracking closers. We just had a deal that shifted Francisco Cordero from a set-up man in Toronto to a closer in Houston, and Brett Myers moved to Chicago to be their set-up man after a sub-par first half closing for the 'Stros. Other deals could include Jonathan Broxton and J.J. Putz, so look out for Greg Holland in KC and David Hernandez in 'Zona if any deals with those guys go down.
- The Slow Starting Bunch: Albert Pujols is the pied-piper here, and others to follow will include Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Upton, and Tim Lincecum. All of these guys are too good to keep down, and if there was ever a time to buy low on them, it's now.
- If You Have R.A. Dickey or Yu Darvish, Trade Them Now: It would take something historic for them to match their first half against anything they could do in the second half, so I'm banking against that happening.
If I think of anything else, I'll let you know. Mock draft rooms are in my future for the rest of the day as I'm spending my last day of vacation once again being as unproductive to the "real world" as possible. Take care everyone. Good to be back. Peace.