Tuesday, October 6, 2015


I was a fantasy football addict.

I was.  I was in eight leagues at times, while writing analysis for pennies on the dollar, if that, while podcasting about the next great waiver wire pickup and telling you who to sit on your bench.  That was then.

I was a fantasy football addict: writer, analyst, podcaster et al.

Over time, the realization that fantasy football was less a game of skill then it was a game of fastest fingers happened almost overnight.  First, I can't tell you how beneficial it was to live on the east coast when the waiver wire come alive.  People would just get there first and boom, any chance at picking up someone was gone most times.

But this was further evidenced when I was asked to put together the internal RotoExperts Fantasy Football League.  The draft would be covered by one of our younger guys and would, of course, give insight to our fan base of just what picks were coveted and what ones were tremendous gaffes.

As Commissioner, the responsibility was mine to set the rules.  Immediately, I knew what rule I would implement: limited waiver wire pickups.  Why?  Because what does a draft matter if you can have your entire lineup replaced over and over.  Since we weren't an auction league (the best kind of league if you ask me) this was going to be my brainchild.  The league owners would still be allowed three pickups per week with an overall maximum of like forty-five for the year. Now we'd see whose research was really solid; who really knew how to draft for value, right?

Wrong.  I was immediately slammed by Ben Ice, the founder of the site, for placing rules that weren't in the spirit of the game. Of course, Ben didn't much care for any kind of editing, particularly copy.  So I wasn't too surprised, but his wasn't the only voice of dissent. Others chimed in and if memory serves, we settled on five pickups per week and something like eighty for the year (16 X 5).  Needless to say, my experiment failed.

Nowadays, who could envision such limitations on your team(s)?  We're just four weeks into the season, and the list of injuries is mind-boggling.  This doesn't even take into account the players that went down in the pre-season:

Kelvin Benjamin - torn ACL (IR)
Jorday Nelson - torn ACL (IR)
Julius Thomas - fractured hand
Matt Elam - torn bicep (IR)
Kevin White - stress fracture - Week 8 return possible
Michael Floyd - dislocated fingers - returned
Phil Loadholdt - torn Achilles (IR)
Shaun Suisham - torn ACL (IR)
Terrell Suggs - torn Achilles (IR)

Then we get into the regular season:

Dez Bryant - broken foot
Tony Romo- broken collarbone
Marshawn Lynch - hamstring and calf problems, his backup Fred Jackson now has an ankle issue
Arian Foster - torn groin - expected back Thursday
Drew Brees - shoulder issue
Andrew Luck - shoulder issue
Devin Hester - toe (IR)
Jordan Reed - (another) concussion
Rashad Greene- thumb (IR)
Joique Bell - ankle
LeSean McCoy - hamstring - no timetable
Luke Kuechly - concussion
Ben Roethlisberger - knee - out 4-6 weeks
Does Mychal Rivera even know where he is?
Ryan Clady - knee (IR)
Josh McCown - concussion - returned

These are just the names that are pretty recognizable to most football fans, and most are important to fantasy rosters.  For those that drafted many of the names above, their season is in flux or on the verge of being lost.  Yet Jonathan Stewart is actually healthy -- go figure!

In essence, the draft this year for most was costly or a ritual at best, and the days of your draft really figuring in to your outcome is the same as your bank roll increasing at a craps table.  Survive the season with minimal injuries, you win.  Lose two of your top draft picks like Dez Bryant or Jordy Nelson -- see ya.

This is just a reflection of the greater problem at large, that of football itself.  The sport I once idolized and played pretty well has become nearly unrecognizable.  The speed at which 300-plus pound men track down their speedier 210-pound counterparts is dizzying.  The collisions can be felt through the television set.  I once saw New Orleans Defensive End Will Smith track down Quarterback Michael Vick from behind.  That was the exact moment I got worried about the future of the NFL.
Bennet Omalu discovered what he dubbed CTE,
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Recently, Yahoo! published an article that claimed of all the brains examined by doctors of former NFL players, ninety-six percent of them tested positive for CTE.  That's not a typo.  Ninety-six percent (96%).  That's an astounding number and not in a good way.  The movie Concussion is set to debut Christmas Day, the story of Bennett Omalu's discovery of brain deterioration that pertains to repeated head traumas, and the subsequent quashing of such information by the NFL.

The NFL may be thriving now as America's sport, but its days are numbered.  With players such as Brett Favre, Jermichael Finley and Troy Aikman stating outright they won't let their own children participate in the sport that gave them such financial freedom and status; with the early retirements of greats like Patrick Willis and his cohort Chris Borland; with  the number of stars going down to season-ending injuries every year, one has to wonder how long the NFL will maintain the throne over other sports.

There are a few ways the NFL could save itself.  They've started by almost removing the kickoff return from the game entirely.  Almost every NFL kicker booting a ball from the thirty-five yard line can easily send the ball out of the end zone if they desire.

But a few other things that would move the NFL into safer territory would be to take a tip from the arena leagues:

-  Shorten the field.  If the field were only eighty yards long and twenty yards wide, the amount of speed any one player could attain would be dramatically lessened.  Thus, the impacts could be toned down quite a bit.

-  Impose a weight limit on the players.  Anyone weighing more than 280 pounds should not be allowed on the field.

 - Engage a study on impacts and the differences weight and speed plays in actual traumas to the body.  We already know the toll on the head and neck is extensive, and the pain many players suffer post career remains until their dying day.  However, based on the increasing speed and weight, one can assume that those pains, even with better treatment and technology, will be much worse now and for future generations if nothing is done.

- Shorten the quarters back to the good ole days of college football to twelve minutes.

Of course, there will still be a lot of non-contact, season-ending injuries like ACL and Achilles Tendon tears, but that can also be assisted by removing non-grass surfaces altogether.  

I still love the sport of American Football.  When played by the best it is a beautiful thing to watch.  But it's impossible for me to sit and watch the catastrophic hits that dislocate and separate appendages and muscles from bones. They are no longer pleasant to watch as they once were.

I was a football addict.  Now, it's more like I'm a casual fan.  And in ten to fifteen years, I'd be surprised if it's anything more than a casual observer of what becomes a poor man's game of survival for those born into severe inequality of opportunity.

Monday, February 2, 2015


I'll admit it.  I'm a hater.

I hate the Patriots.

There, I said it.  So you know that for me to be writing about this, particularly after having taken a break for awhile to continue my other forms of writing, it comes from a place of an anti-Patriots agenda.

All that said, give Bill Belichick props.
"Hoodie" might be one of the best coaches of all time.
My body cringes as I write that.  The man has been caught cheating in the NFL, twice.  In the same league where players gouge eyes under tackle piles, step on players and just get fined, hit women and originally get a few games suspension until the fans reprimand the commissioner, Belichick has been actually caught cheating.  And any words to the effect that he didn't know about it makes me say he should have, and if he did, well, then there are no more words.

Forget about the blundered call, assuming you believe that's what it was.  Forget about the fact the Patriots had two timeouts in the bank when Jermaine Kearse somehow caught the pass at the four yard line with approximately forty seconds remaining, and forget about the fact that Malcolm Butler made the defensive plays of all defensive plays....

Belichick refused to follow the stupid, 'odds-driven' mantra of let them score.  He could have.  He could have called his defense to back off, let the Seahawks get into the end zone quickly and give Super Tom his chance to get a tying field goal with thirty ticks and two timeouts left.  People in the living room I visited were saying it.  You know most Patriots fans, if not saying it out loud, were thinking it.  Belichick just isn't built that way.

He won't tell his defense they can't.

He won't give away the lead under any circumstance.  You'll have to earn it.

And he prepares his team for exactly these split-second moments.

An undrafted rookie from West Alabama, a Division II school, stepped up after being on the losing end of Kearse's improbable catch, to make the kind of play most coaches expect only veterans to make.  He was that prepared.  A rookie.

Tom Brady didn't win this team Super Bowl XLIX.  Julian Edelman didn't.  Neither did Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich or Vince Wilfork.  Malcolm Butler from Vicksburg Mississippi, a Community College player who fought through a drug problem and was frying chicken at Popeye's restaurant just a few years ago, was the guy Bill Belichick coached into history.

Think about all of the Hall-of-Famers that four time winners Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw played with to win that many titlles.  Now think about this team and Tom Brady.  Is there anyone we'll be calling to the Hall besides Tom?

Why Bill Belichick hasn't had enough trust in himself to build his teams and win his titles without overstepping the NFL rules is something only Bill Belichick can answer (and no doubt, he won't).  But if you can't look at what happened last night and see that whether you love him or despise him, the man has made the Patriots a franchise that few will equal in history, then you're just not thinking deeply enough on the subject yet.

I hate the Patriots.

I hate Bill Belichick.

But that's in part because he's just too good.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


My blog a few days after Sterling's private conversation was released was in effect exactly what this column by Jason Whitlock at ESPN says perfectly.  Spot on....


Marc Randazza further clarifies the issue.... no one thinks Sterling isn't a bigot.  But those that applauded what happened even made journalist Jemele Hill speak about how she couldn't be elated, mainly because the statements that were made in the public forum, the lawsuits and discriminatory actions that were of public record as regarded Donald Sterling were simply ignored. 

With that I give you another take on the dangerous precedent set by Sterling's mistress.  V. Stiviano.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Leave it to one of the greatest athletes in a century to say it even better than I could, and make the point I was discussing with Doug Anderson in my comments.  Kudos Kareem!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE? - Donald Sterling and other bad conversations

Those of you who have read my work and/or followed this blog know that I am not at a loss for opinions on things.  Some are solid opinions, sometimes I've been too quick to the trigger and sometimes there's just way too much to say to even comment on it.

This feels like the latter to me.

First off, before I begin, let me start by telling you what I think of TMZ and TMZ.com.  This is a site not out there to protect the real news as they would have you believe.  To me, these people and this organization are about ruining other people.  They publish things often before they're confirmed.  False photos, stories released that were just untrue.. this is just as terrible an organization as all the other petty gossip sites.  So before I can even address their release of Donald Sterling's conversation, I feel obligated to do something the phonies on sports talk radio won't do --decry the fact that TMZ released  a conversation recorded IN PRIVATE.  All of us, no matter who we are, have said things in private we would never want our employer or employees to hear.  And if you think I'm wrong, when's the last time you told an offensive religious joke, or a joke that picked on the polish people (which Americans do relentlessly)?  TMZ is not a respectable newsgroup.  They're a bunch of hacks who love to create media firestorms and sit back and watch the explosions go off.

So the first question I had was how they obtained this recording? (I have since heard that Sterling's twenty-something girlfriend is in a lawsuit with him and may have released this -- lovely, he's eighty and married --maybe with an arrangement-- and she's in her twenties.... the whole thing wreaks of a lover's quarrel now turned ugly, but she's pretty classless to take a trusted conversation and release it to the public).  Leave it to TMZ to do whatever causes the most issues.

Before any of you have misgivings about my feelings about Sterling's comments, let me tell you they were and are horrendous.  Considering we also had the rantings of Cliven Bundy grace the New York Times pages, racial issues are once again at the center of everyone's mind this week.  And why shouldn't they be?  It's  been 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed he had a dream and over 150 years since the Gettysburg, and yet we're still not past the racial inequalities and ugliness in this country's past, nor can we seem to deal with it in the present.

Which brings me to the real point of this blog.  Today on talk radio everyone who was anyone took to the airwaves to lambaste Donald Sterling.  Some went so far to say he should even be arrested.  Others simply want his entire career derailed.  And while Sterling's comments are despicable and have no place in basketball, I want to point out he wasn't making them as a basketball owner.  He wasn't extolling the virtues of racism as a matter of policy, or a matter or his hiring practices.  He was having a conversation that was never supposed to be heard by the public, expressing sentiments he was most likely raised with.

That leads me to really one of the things that is never discussed: We say in this country we want racism out in the open.  We want it to be done with.  Well America, welcome to what is the only way to stamp out racism: it's to bring those awful thoughts and biases out into the open.  I mean, wouldn't we rather know what someone really believes then find out who we think they are in a drunken rage like we did with Mel Gibson?

Which is it America?

What Donald Sterling said didn't even touch on some of the more awful things we've heard from larger and more prominent bigots than he.  Because if we want bigots to change, if you really want to see the world transformed to one that is colorblind, you had better accept there are still a whole lot of white people, particularly of the older generation, who were raised with the N-word as part of their regular vocabulary.  And it isn't just White America either.  Plenty of Americans have biases that are rooted in prejudice.  Yet here are Americans leaping on this bandwagon and saying that Donald Sterling should be arrested or kicked out of the NBA for sharing his thoughts privately with someone he was dating.

Arrested?  Really America?

Kicked out of the NBA?

Has he discriminated against his employees?  And with the answer being yes, where was all the protesting and screaming about this man then?  I hate to be the one to spout it, but what he said was awful, not illegal.  And look, I get this is an emotionally charged subject, and I get as angry as anyone over bigots and racism.  But I get equally incited about hypocrisy.  And every single talk show host today made me nauseous.  They of the high and mighty, judging and yelling from their moral thrones that Sterling should be booted from owning a team while these guys in private have undoubtedly said something they probably would want to take back at one point in their lives or another.

I hate what Donald Sterling said, but I also can understand that even a big jackass has a right to have private conversations that don't see the light of day. He also has the right to feel a certain way even if that way is outdated and wrong.  And instead of the entire world casting him aside and dishing out punishment to a man who will learn nothing from it, we instead might want to consider approaching this from the responsibility we have to show him where he is wrong.  He should be brought into the same conversation that we all claim to want to have, that of where racial thoughts of inequality begin and how they're reinforced.  Because sending Sterling away by making him sell his NBA team now valued at hundreds of millions of dollars simply hides he and his thoughts in a closet.  It removes him from the conversation by putting a scarlet letter on his chest and proclaiming he's a bad man.  Which solves absolutely nothing.

You want to really discuss race?  Then let's have a frank conversation, allowing all of us who have been brought up with some sort of racial prejudice whether it be a statement we heard from our father or grandfather, witnessed from a teacher or an employer (and I say us because even I've heard racially charged jokes in my time and said nothing about it -- there's a lot of us out there), and let's talk about it.  Let's embrace those who were less fortunate to have grown up in intolerant families who sought to segregate differences instead of recognizing and respecting them.  Let's have that talk without declaring people who have horrible thoughts need to be chastised and cast out.

Because if you expect racism to disappear without being willing to hear the awful things ignorant people are brought up to believe it is my estimation you are doing progress a great disservice.  You can't sweep dirt under a rug and call a room clean.  You can't kill a few termites and expect the problem won't come back.  To exterminate racism the likes of which Donald Sterling has inbred, you need to be willing to hear it.

To listen to it.

To tolerate the intolerable.

And then bring that person into a fold where the racial differences between cultures is embraced and teach them a world that is wholly new to them; one where all folks, no matter what they look like, believe, or whatever sexuality they practice, are equal.

Then and only then will you see racism dissipate and the carpet will be clean.

You may judge Donald Sterling from where you sit.  You have that privilege.  Heck you may even judge me, thinking that somehow I'm misinformed about how to deal with such things.  And for that I have an amazing story for you....

One of my best friends, also Jewish, went to the public schools I avoided and got picked on because he was a Jew.  He was called names, taunted and even roughed up a bit from what I understand.  And he addressed the issue by having the perpetrators over to his house to join our weekly all-day Saturday basketball games with all his other Jewish friends.  Never did he mention to us that these guys were victimizing him on the bus.  Had he, me and the others would have pushed them away too.  Instead, through our weekly game, all but one of these kids changed their minds for the better about Jews.  One even dated his sister for awhile. He was wise beyond his years.  He changed almost all of those boys, not by indicting them with us, but instead inviting them to join us.

Yes, what Donald Sterling thinks and says is horrible.  But if you keep sweeping he and his ilk under the carpet, the room will never be clean.  The problem will continue to fester in private.

I, for one, think it's time we clean the room for good.  What about you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Brandon Belt was one of the guys I targeted late last year in my dynasty 4X4 league.  I picked him up off the waiver wire in September for $3, knowing that with inflation he'd cost $6 this year, and would likely bring good value based on the way he finished the 2013 season.

I first saw Belt at the Arizona Fall League showcase.  I had scouted baseball hardly at all and knew really almost nothing (sometimes still do).... but I noticed Belt right away.  He was 20 years old.  He was composed.  He was patient.  And his swing was a thing of beauty.  No real hitches from what I could tell.  Nothing like the kind of issue scouts spoke of Ike Davis, who had a long load and a slight hitch in the beginning of his swing. 

As a guy who has touted Belt and owns him, I thought I'd examine his numbers.  I wasn't as happy as I wanted to be.

Belt's been on a HR tear
Belt has started the 2014 campaign auspiciously to say the least.  In 2013, of his 17 home runs, only six came at home and only three came against LHPs.  Already in 2014, Belt has pounded seven home runs, six have come on the road, one at home and two against LHPs.  With a .305 batting average to boot, it would seem Belt is about to surpass his career totals. Not so fast.  While he may surpass 17 home runs, his numbers will need to improve vastly in some areas for this 'breakout' season to continue.

His seven home runs in MAR/APR is a career high, and the first number that jumps out at you is Belt's HR/FB which is 24 percent (that number climbed to 27 percent today with his seventh) -- it's simply unsustainable, especially when you notice he's hitting just 35 percent of his balls in the air (FB%).  He's still primarily a ground ball hitter, putting nearly 41 percent of the balls he puts in play on the ground.  His contact rate is down almost six percent from last year.  He's swinging at more pitches outside the zone and contacting them less, and his swinging strike percentage is up four percent.  He's also traded some line drives for more ground balls, which works well for his BABIP, which is currently spot on with his career rate of .339.  One other thing to note, almost all of his other hits have been singles, and many of them on the ground.

The future face of Belt and owners if things don't change.
None of these numbers bode well for him to continue at this prodigious rate for power.

It's still early enough for these numbers to shift a little bit in his favor in terms of FB rate, contact and the amount he swings and misses.  However, without a trend that way, expect Belt's power numbers to start plummeting back to earth soon. 

This doesn't mean you should sell just yet, but he is certainly starting to look like a sell-high candidate in the near future.