Friday, March 28, 2008

MLB '08 Season Predictions

It's here! Sweet baby Jesus, it's finally here! The baseball season kicks off this weekend, and we here at Pink Hat Nation have our predictions for how it'll all turn out.

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Brewers
NL West: D Backs
Wild Card: Padres

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Indians
AL West: A's
Wild Card: Those damn Yankees

World Series Matchup: Mets vs. Indians
Winner: Mets

AL East: (damn) Yankees
AL Central: Cleveland
AL West: Anaheim
AL Wild Card: Detroit

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Chicago
NL West: Diamondbacks
Wild Card: Padres

World Series Matchup: Chicago vs. Yankees (aka Good vs. Evil)

Winner: Yankees, in a big reminder to everyone who's forgotten why they hate the pin stripes.

NL East: New York
NL Central: Brewers
NL West: D Backs
Wild Card: Dodgers

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Detroit
AL West: Angels
Wild Card: Indians

World Series Champ: Detroit Tigers

AL MVP: Grady Sizemore
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander

NL MVP: David Wright
NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy

Suck it in Mags, Dave thinks you're a champion.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lights Out gets his wheels torched

Who jacked me? WHO?!?!

"Police are looking for the thief or thieves who stole Chargers' linebacker Shawne Merriman's prized Mercedes Benz and then torched it.

The 2006 sports coupe, valued at more than $180,000, was engulfed in flames when officers discovered it about midnight Thursday in Emerald Hills off Bethune Court, said San Diego police spokesman Gary Hassen. "

It is unclear whether authorities will let Mr. Merriman tackle the perpetrator and perform his "Lights Out" dance upon capture.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

All-Sleeper Fantasy Team

James Loney has a sweet swing.

Too many fantasy columns regarding "sleeper" picks just write about players that everybody else in your league knows as "sleepers," ergo removing their sleeper status.

This is not one of them. From a practical drafting standpoint, these guys can actually be had in the last 2-3 rounds. Behold...

C-JR Towels, Astros

Towels batted .375 in his cup of coffee with Houston last year, even producing a 4-4, 8 RBI performance in a single game. This youngster has speed, toughness and a good contact bat, which should lead to solid fantasy numbers in his rookie year. Think Russell Martin Lite, a .360-range OBP with 10-12 homers and steals, he'll do enough right to make you glad that you didn't reach on a catcher early in the draft.

1B-James Loney, Dodgers

Loney may go earlier than the last 2-3 rounds of your draft, depending on the other owners in your league. But you can wait on drafting a first baseman, and fill out your other positions while the rest of your league are spending high picks on guys like David Ortiz and Prince Fielder. Loney has proved to be a hitter throughout his minor league career with the Dodgers, and didn't disappoint last year batting .331 with 14 homers in less than a full season. His plate discipline also make him a good play in OBP leagues.

2B-Aaron Hill, Blue Jays

Perpetually undrafted, and perpetually added to somebody's team mid season due to injury or an underperforming second baseman, Hill has been solid for two seasons in the majors. Will this be the year he finally breaks the .310, 17 home run mark? He has that potential, but they don't call 'em sleepers for nothing.

3B-Ian Stewart, Rockies

Lodged behind Garrett Atkins, the Rockies have been both dreading and awaiting his arrival to the bigs. With the corner outfield and hot corner currently occupied, the front office is going to have to make a move to make room for the former 10th overall pick. Don't be surprised if Atkins gets traded for pitching, and Stewart take over in the second half. It's far from guaranteed, but a good pick if you have the room on your bench and a bit of patience.

SS-Jason Bartlett, Rays

No longer a spring chicken, Bartlett had to wait until age 28 to lodge his first full season in the bigs, and surprised some with a 20+ steal season, also hitting 7 homers. Now the number 9 hitter for Tampa, his run totals should remain the same or improve with Carl Crawford hitting 2 spots behind him. He won't win you the league, but a good fill-in player or steals specialist with potential for more.

CF-Michael Bourne, Astros

Bourne swiped 18 bases last season, 8 this spring and will bat leadoff ahead of Pence, Berkman and Carlos Lee. What more could you ask for? A great speed guy to have on your bench, and if the guy is on a .350 OBP, 100+ runs, 70 steals pace, who are you to keep him out of the starting lineup? A cinch to surpass Juan Pierre's numbers in 2008.

RF-Travis Buck, Athletics

Another leadoff hitter, but with a lot less speed. While Buck did steal 4 bases last year, it's his plate discipline and power potential that make him intriguing. Although Oakland should, in a word, suck this year, Buck could score 80-90 runs, with 60-70 RBI. Doesn't sound too spectacular, but if he hits with power a move down in the lineup may be warranted. The next Jason Bay could be on the horizon, for whatever that's worth. He's owned in less than 1 percent of Yahoo leaugues, so grabbing him in the final round should prove easy.

LF-Andre Ethier, Dodgers

Simply a good hitter. He'll be asked to make productive out and advance runners in the number two hole this year, but Ethier will be a productive fantasy outfielder. Expect a .360 OBP, 80 runs, 17-20 homers, 75 RBI season, no sweat. And for a guy that is ranked behind even guys like Rocco Baldelli and Coco Crisp, he's a great late round value pick.

SP-Kyle Kendrick, Phillies

During 20 starts last year, Kendrick proved that he has the ability to be an effective control pitchers, he won't miss a ton of bats, and his WHIP won't be stellar, but with a powerful Phillies offense he should win12-15 games and post a sub-4.20 ERA. In today's fantasy pitching landscape, that's someone who should be owned in every league, but is going undrafted in most. Pass on the likes of Jason Schmidt or Kyle Lohse and draft late Kendrick instead.

SP-Joe Saunders, Angels

Another youngster who acquitted himself well last season, Saunders is penciled in as the Halos' number three hurler. Featuring a strong arm and some Southern moxie, Saunders should go for 14+ wins this season and 140+ K's. If his WHIP improves to below the 1.30 level, he'll be a steady starter for your team. A low risk, high reward later round selection.

Closer-Heath Bell, Padres

After last season's playoff run meltdown, it's clear that Trevor Hoffman is on his last legs. But when the organization chooses to replace him or Hoffman decides to retire is anyone's guess. It likely won't be this year, but if they are forced to turn elsewhere at some point, set up man Heath Bell should be more than up to the task. A power arm with stellar stikeout numbers and an admittedly Rod Beck-esque delivery, his time to take over the 9th inning will come at some point. Draft him in the late rounds, and he'll even contribute as an 8th inning man with strikeouts and stellar ERA/WHIP ratios.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Out of Hibernation Links

Honestly, this blogging stuff is hard work. Right up there with folding laundry and holding a conversation with your parents. Thanks to my fellow PHN contributers this blog did not wither, but instead flourished, albeit in a "dry and browning iceplant" kind of way.

But here we are, with baseball season starting again, the NCAA tourney in full swing and the NBA season (mercifully) coming to an end. Crack your knuckles people, it's time to waste some time on the internet!

-Thanks to Bolthype for posting the ESPN "Chargers on the Clock" video.

-Random notes: Chase Headley sent down to AAA and Kyle Frandsen out for the year. The Padres and Giants will now have to wait to find out that these guys suck anyways. Shane Victorino will take Headley's roster spot.

-Frisco loses a draft pick for tampering with free agent Lance Briggs, via Niner Cap Hell.

-The Topps Allen & Ginter baseball card set won't be out until July, but here are some cool photoshopped mock cards for 2008, via Cardboard Junkie.

Peace out, and look forward to our baseball picks.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Play ball! (For two days. At 3 a.m. PST)

The Baseball season technically starts tonight with the Oakland A's and Boston Red Sox duking it out in the Tokyo Dome! Wooooo!



OK, I know: Only Red Sox fans, A's fans and millions of Japanese people care about this. And no one cares about them. So, Pink Hat Nation will be unveiling its picks for division, wild card and eventual World Series winners later in the week, closer to the actual start of the season on Sunday, March 30. (Braves vs. Nationals in an evening game. The Sunday Night game on ESPN. What, you don't count the season until your specific team starts? God. OK, fine: Closer to when the actual season starts on Monday, March 31. Happy?)

Ah, is Matsusakason signing balls? No. Well, did he at least touch this ball? Look at it? Was it in his presence? OK, whatever, just give it to me blond pitcher man.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Toréador, en garde !

Congrats to USD for beating UConn in a huge upset in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament!

Someone from the Toreros...playing someone who's not UConn.

In a thrilling overtime win, the Toreros beat the Huskies 70-69. USD was ahead by as many as 11 points earlier in the game, but UConn closed the gap, eventually pushing it to OT on freethrows.

But five extra minutes was all USD needed. As a 13 seed, USD's win is the biggest upset of the tournament so far. In a crazy twist of fate, it came right after 12 seed Western Kentucky upset Drake with a 3-point buzzer beater, also in overtime. Continuing with the crazy, USD and Western Kentucky play each other in the next round!

Since they're playing a 12 seed, USD actually stands a chance of getting to the Sweet 16. Not bad for a team who's coach even said it would be tough to get out of the first round.

Go Toreros!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Madness Begins

It’s that time of year again: March Madness! When everyone suddenly cares about college basketball. And by “cares about,” I mean gambles on. Seriously, is there any other sports event that proves gambling is at the root of its appeal than this one?

Well, I’m not generally a huge gambler, but I do participate in the annual office March Madness pool. As far as I can tell, there are three ways to make your picks:

1) Watch tons of college basketball throughout the season and analyze the match-ups based on what you’ve seen.

Percentage of people who actually do this: .83

2) Watch and read tons of analysis that others have compiled for you before making you picks.

Percentage of people who do it this way: 27

Pick schools based on completely random factors, such as the viciousness of their mascot, whether or not you know anyone who goes/went there, whether or not any of their athletic programs have been remotely good in the past 30 years, the color of their uniforms, the catchiness of their fight song, etc.

Percentage of people who pick this way: 72.17 percent.

This year, after an inter-office discussion about Kent State making it to the dance, I came up with a fourth method of making picks: tragedy points. If a massacre or some other notorious crime/disaster has occured at the school, that team at least makes it out of the first round. This works for Kent State , Texas and Baylor this year. Other years, it could work for Northern Illinois, Virginia Tech, Seton Hall and probably others I can’t think of. You can't base an entire bracket on this method – and let’s all thank God for that – but it could help you chose some interesting upsets. (And yes, my entire office is scared of me for thinking this up).

What other interesting ways do you fill out your bracket?

Hell no, they won't go!*

Update: *Actually, they will go. Since the original post, a deal was reached and the Sox are playing in Japan. Also, apparently it was MLB that did the reneging, not the Sox brass. Woops.

The Boston Red Sox, like the teams that played in Japan last year, have been whining and moaning about having to go to the Land of the Rising Sun for their home opener since it was announced they’d been selected to go. So when I read a headline this morning that the Sox were considering boycotting the trip, I rolled my eyes and prepared to be embarrassed by the 25 millionaires I root for, suspecting they were boycotting the trip because it’ll interfere with their preparation routine of stretching, running, and shot-gunning Natty Ice.

So I was pleasantly surprised to read that the players are actually boycotting for a really good reason: the team’s management is apparently reneging on a promise to pay coaches and trainers a $40,000 stipend to make the trip.

According to some of the players, the organization promised everyone – including the players – would get this stipend, but it then turned out the coaches and training staff will not. So the Sox have refused to start their final spring training game, and are threatening to boycott the Japan trip.

I’m on the record as having really mixed feelings about the Sox organization – the higher ups in the front office. They brought us two championships so I can’t hate, but they are greedy little stinkers. If they did in fact promise money to coaches and staff and now they’re reneging, that’s pretty low. No matter how much these guys make.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My bad

OK, apparently Scituate High sports aren't as good as I thought. I thought they won the state championships in hockey, but it was the eastern championship, and they sadly fell to Westfield 2-1 in the state finals.

Also, I didn't mention it for fear of jinxing it, but the Scituate High School basketball team was also in the state finals, but also lost, 79-65 to Frontier (whoever that is).

Good try though Sailors! You've still instilled me with a school pride you could never foster when I actually went to school there.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Come sail away!

Congratulations to the Scituate High School Sailors on winning the Division 3 Massachusetts state hockey championship!

I know what you’re thinking: What the hell is hockey? (Ba-zing!) Scituate High School happens to be my alma mater, and while the town has always been mad about hockey, I don’t recall the high school side doing much while I was there. (Of course, school spirit and following athletics weren't really "my thing” in high school, so maybe they were better than I knew). Irregardless, things have apparently changed in these past … I don’t want to say how many years. Because for the second year in a row, Scituate is #1!

This win was particularly poignant for the blue and white because earlier this winter, one of the team’s defensemen was sadly killed in a car accident. So big congrats to the boys for going out there and getting it done.

(It’s pronounced “sitch-oo-it,” by the way).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Brett Favre Retires

I would just like to thank Mr. Favre for a great career, and also for signing his first year Green Bay card through the mail back in '93 or whenever it was.

Also thanks to Mr. Favre for calling it quits and sparing the constant "Will Brett retire?" stories every single year. Cheers to both the grizzly veteran, as well as Mr. Pill-Popping-Beer-Guzzling Falcons backup. Now Aaron Rodgers can get up off of his ass and start earning a paycheck.
And I was also to lazy to preview the entire draft, sorry :(