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  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.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

WHY I LOVE DAILY FANTASY BASEBALL? - tips and strategies for one of the coolest games out there

I'm sitting at a Passover Seder the other night and the curiosity is killing me.  We've reached the midway point of most West Coast games, and the outcomes of those contests will have a direct impact on me tonight.  But most importantly, after 10 home runs in just six innings of play the Pirates/Reds game has been delayed by rain and I have Russell Martin and Andrew McCutchen going up against a guy they've had good experience against -- Homer Bailey.  With balls leaving the ballpark every other minute, I pray this one isn't stopped until the next day.  I have $5 in a triple up contest - the contest I have to place in.  I have $1 and $2 in bigger contests, that don't matter as much, but have the possibility of much bigger winnings.

This is why I love daily fantasy baseball.  I'm not the best math guy in the world.  Admittedly, numbers to me can be fascinating and boring at the same time.  And baseball, for the most part is about numbers.  But unlike yearly fantasy baseball (which I do compete in - won my first 4X4 keeper league last year) where the research is an immense hill to climb before every season, daily fantasy is about making things smaller, more concise and playing smart strategy.  Better still, payout is immediate. 

Is it risk free?  No.  There's no doubt this is gambling on a human element, an element as unpredictable as the winds.  But, much like poker, it is a thinking man's gamble.  I should tell you I don't bet on games or spreads hardly at all.  Besides a football pool here and there, I find that kind of gambling absurd.  I'm terrible at it.  I hear the radio shows now early Sunday mornings with guys pimping their "lock" of the weekend and secretly giggle to myself. 

So why on earth would I play fantasy baseball in a daily format for $$?:

1) Because, first off, it's fun.

2) it can be cheap fun.  $1 here or there.  How many times do you waste that dollar on a lotto ticket, and I mean waste?  $1 turned into $40 for me  last week.  Not too shabby.

3) research isn't exhaustive.  Sure, it helps to have an inner working knowledge of baseball and some of the players, but the good thing about baseball is even though there's a team out there, it's based a lot on individuals.  And much like a personality, once you know an individual's style of play, they generally stay that style of player.  Is he a base-stealer?  Does he contact the ball well?  Is he a power guy? 
These answers stay constant through most of each player's careers.

4) you can grow your funds like an investment by being smart and using some basic strategy.

So what is fantasy baseball and what is daily fantasy baseball?  Fantasy baseball involves putting together a team full of real players and using how they perform on the field (their statistics) as the scoring mechanism.  In a fantasy baseball league, you do much what a GM would do -- you draft your team alongside your opponents and attempt to put together the best lineup each week to get the best stats.  You drop and add players, pick up free agents and make trades. 

Daily Fantasy involves simply culling together a lineup of the best players for that given day within in a defined budget.  Each player has a 'salary' and that salary corresponds to their perceived value on that given day.

So what kind of strategies can you employ to take a small amount of $$ and grow it?  Well here are some strategies I've employed that have worked for me.


Probably the single most important choice you make is where to put your money.  The small bet, big payoff contests are long-shots, and require that you take chances in your lineup to find those diamonds in the rough on a given particular day.  I've probably do one of these any time I play and out of the 20 or so I've been in my best finish is 7th out of 4468 entries. 

The contests that have the least risk payout less but they're the most important ones to play.  In order to make money regularly, the 50/50 contests, double ups and triple ups offer a chance to return smaller amounts for a small investment and keep your account growing.  These contests require a different strategy -- using the most consistent players you can find.  It means choosing your investments a little wiser because you're going to spend more on the consistent players and you need to do a little more research on the match ups to make sure that player is a good bet for a good return.

Another thing to watch is how many entrants are in the competition.  Most big tournaments cap how many entrants they'll have for their big payout.  But if the number of entrants is deflated, the payout stays the same and your odds of taking home bigger earnings just went up.


As mentioned above, choosing the right players is what it's all about, but to do so you must first understand the scoring system employed by that particular site/contest.  I tend to use right now, but have used as well.

For instance, in FanDuel's game, ers get one point for a 1B, two for a 2B, three for a 3B and four for a HR.  They get a point for each RBI and each run scored.  Walks and HBP are as good as a single and a SB gets you two points.  And any out you lose .25 points.  Thus, pitchers are going to make up a chunk of your scoring and how you invest that money is probably going to determine your outcome.

Most importantly, rain outs and lineup changes are killer and any player in a lineup when a rain out happens is lost.  Best thing is to try to follow a teams TWITTER feed during the day to get the starting lineup and occasionally check the weather, particularly back east and u north.


Pitchers - I often check the opponents team Batting Stats and Strikeout rates.  Naturally, a free swinging team that has a low on base percentage and OPS (on base plus slugging) is probably struggling to score runs and is probably a good match up.  Often, I'm looking to find a cheaper pitcher that won't deliver a disaster.  Thus I generally avoid rookies or unknowns and prefer veteran arms with a decent track record, especially recently.
ther key in finding a good deal is if a really great pitcher has just come off a disastrous outing.  Say that Johnny Cueto just had a really bad outing five days ago and was shelled for six runs in just a few innings of work.  You might find Cueto's price deflated for that particular day and considering how often he strikes batters 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) but at a 10.5 so far this season, he's likely to be a bargain. 

Rookies are a true risk.  Often newer guys have less tape available for hitters to study and know their tendencies.  Thus, a rookie facing a new opponent may steal the show.  However, a young rookie could easily get rattled if things don't go well early on, or he could have his innings limited in his first few starts and that means less points for you the buyer. 

Hitters - I generally like to check match up history of batter/pitcher.  Some don't agree it matters.  I think it does only if the sample size is good enough.  And for me, that's at least 10-15 ABs.  That's at least three times at minimum.  Why?  Well remember what I said about players staying generally the same most of their careers?  So how many pitchers add a whole new slew of pitches or change their deliveries.  Not that many. They may add a new pitch or tweak their style, but once a major-leaguer has seen their pitching style and pitches and also has studied tape, they know this guy.  They know his pitches.  And either they see him well or not.  They hit him well or they don't.  Giancarlo Stanton for some reason rips Stephen Strasburg.  Some will say you need a much larger sample size for the numbers to play out.  I don't agree. 

As for other factors like ballpark, hitters career splits (batting well LHP vs RHP or HOME/ROAD), I occasionally check those but I look for their career.  One season isn't necessarily enough to show much.  Minimum of three years could give you a decent picture.  But a career number of more than that is pretty much a full painting.

Guys who are reportedly fighting a "sore shoulder" or a "quad injury" and are back in the lineup aren't usually in mine.  MLB teams are infamous for making injuries sound less than they are.  Choose health over everything else when buying a player. The combinations are endless, but many lineups offer a possible cash out.  The key is to experiment often, hedge your bets with smaller competitions and lighter payouts to keep your account moving forward, and throw a dart at a long-shot every so often. 

If you're tired of the investment required in a season-long fantasy baseball effort but have some knowledge and understanding, daily fantasy is a fun game with new possibilities every day.  Enjoy!