Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I'm Going to Nashville!!!

I waited and waited all day... hoping, wishing that I would get the eMail confirming that I was going to be one of the ones picked to go to Carrie Underwood's Fan Club party in Nashville on June 5th. We had been told in advance that May 8th would be the day they picked the people going... The hours passed with no word. By 8pm, I was pretty resigned to the fact that I probably wasn't going to get picked. A little more than 15 minutes later, I was making myself a snack in the kitchen and heard my Yahoo messenger go off letting me know I had an eMail. The message flashed up "from Carrie Underwood: Congratulations!" Needless to say, I checked out that eMail as soon as that popped up and I let out a yell when I saw the text of the mail confirming I was going. I then immediately did what anyone would do... I called my Mom! Soon, I was checking in with my friends to see if they got picked to go. I quickly found that two of my best friends in the fanclub, Lisa and Reggie, also got picked! I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity go to the legendary Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville and meet up with Carrie and fellow fans. Lots of pictures to come!


Time for some sports... Baseball is on my mind - as it usually is this time of year. I was very happy to see that a lot of the pitchers on my fantasy teams turned in quality starts. Ian Snell of the Pirates, Dave Bush of the Brewers and Javier Vazquez of the White Sox all contributed nice outings to multiple teams of mine... with this in mind, it's time to scope out some of the latest Diamonds in the Rough:

1. Dan Johnson (1B - OAK) 35 % owned in CBS Sportsline leagues - Johnson got off to that awful 1 for 37 (.027) start last year and he never fully recovered. Few people know though that he hit a respectable .265 after that with nine homers and 36 RBI's in 249 at bats the rest of the way. With a 34:37 BB/K ratio, Dan's plate discipline remained as good as ever inspite of playing the entire season with eye problems. Those eye problems have been corrected and Dan is off to a hot start this year since coming off the injured list with a .333 BA, 1 HR and 6 RBI in the A's first 11 games and a very impressive 9 walks to give him a .458 OBP. As long as he remains healthy, Johnson is going to produce some very good numbers the rest of the way. Think along the lines of a .290 BA with 20 homers and 80 RBI's. Numbers which will do just fine in your Utility or 1B slots.

2. Shane Victorino (OF - PHI) 69% owned - Do you feel the need for speed? If so, then Victorino (surprisingly) is your man! With only four steals in over 400 at bats last year, few people would have thought that Shane would be running like he has so far in 2007. 13 steals in only 124 at bats paces out to just under 65 for the season. Those are numbers up there with the big guys that get drafted in rounds 5 through 7 (think Juan Pierre and Chone Figgins). Needless to say, if he's out there and you need some steals, go get him!

3. Kelvim Escobar (SP - LAA) 78% owned - Escobar is one of those guys who has been snakebit the past couple of years in every way possible. Poor run support in 2005 and poor defense last year (to the tune of 17 unearned runs allowed) have conspired against him to deflate his win total the past two seasons. We all know the law of averages though and things should even out. So far Escobar is 3-1 this year with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with a solid 2:1 K/BB ratio. Look for his strikeout total to improve and the wins to continue coming. 15 wins and 150 K's with a 3.50 ERA and 1.20 WHIP the best of the way are very reasonable expectations for him.

4. Oliver Perez (SP - NYM) 87% owned - Remember the Oliver Perez that whetted our appetite in 2002 with the San Diego Padres, and then broke out with that amazing 2004 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates? Well, after hugely disappointing 2005 and 2006 seasons, it appears Perez has rediscoved the magical formula... With a better than 3:1 K/BB ratio in 6 starts for the Mets, a 3.48 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, it appears that the guy who fanned 239 batters in 2004 is trying to post something similar this year. 15 wins and 200 K's are definitely within reach for Perez, and with a little luck, perhaps even a Cy Young Award could be in his future!

5. Russ Gload (1B - KC) 10% owned - It's all about opportunity. Anyone who really knows this game knows one thing about Russ Gload: he can hit! With a .321 BA for the White Sox in 2004, a .364 BA while being mired in the minors in 2005, and a .326 BA for the White Sox in 2006, he has more than proven that given a chance to play he will produce. Gload went to the Kansas City Royals this year in hopes of playing more... so far so good as Gload has quietly become one of their best players, putting up a .292 BA with 2 homers and 16 RBI in 86 at bats for the Royals this year. If he continues to play every day or almost every day, he has a legitimate shot at 100 RBI's. A .300+ BA should almost be a given.

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