Friday, May 25, 2007

Playin' Hardball...

I have to admit to a rare case of insomnia last night...while channel surfing just before 1 a.m PT, I happened upon MSNBC and Chris Matthews' Hardball - a show that I've watched on and off for many years... In case you've never seen the show, Matthews often uses it as a forum to discuss political issues and will grill his guests with his questions. Matthews recently garnered a lot of controversy with the questions he asked some of the competitors as a judge in the 2007 Miss America pageant. Some examples: “Why did Mississippi seem to do a better job than Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina?"... “Faulkner never used commas when he wrote. Why is that?”... and the topper, "Where is Osama bin Laden now?"

Clearly, Matthews was out of his element as a judge at the pageant... however, he does a fine job most of the time on Hardball and on the Chris Matthews Show. And sometimes, you do happen to see the "kinder, gentler" side of Matthews - last night was one of those nights as he interviewed Ron Jr. and Nancy Reagan during the final 15 minutes of his show... Nancy recently decided to publish the daily diaries that her late husband Ronald Reagan during his eight years in office. Of all of our nation's leaders during my lifetime, there probably isn't one I admired and respected more than Reagan... Reagan was very "old school" in his writings which kept with his image - very "polite and clean" as Matthews put it... The book on our 40th President is simply entitled The Reagan Diaries and is on sale now.


"Hardball" is the theme for the day... this is the time of year in fantasy leagues where you have to start playing "hardball" with your fellow fantasy leaguers... The season is nearing 1/3 over, and if your team is more than say 15 points out of first, well then you more than likely have some work to do. Now's the time where you sell high on the overachievers, and you buy the underachievers at a discount... I'll make a few quick "Buy Low, Sell High" recommendations here...


1. Albert Pujols (1B-STL) - Pujols is perennially near the top of the fantasy (and real) world most years, but 2007 has been different so far. With only a .275 BA, 7 homers and 25 RBI's through 44 games there is some concern that he may be hiding an injury. ESPN recently did a piece though which shows the true culprit to his slow start may be a different batting stance that he has this year - one in which there are more moving parts... Expect Pujols to put it all together soon. I doubt you ever have a chance to get him cheaper than now.

2. Andruw Jones (OF-ATL) - Jones is hitting an embarrassing .213 at the moment with only 6 homers and a tolerable 31 RBI's to this point. Jones tallied 92 homers and 257 RBI's to go with a .262 BA over the past two years for the Braves... This past Sunday, he reached the ultimate low, striking out five times in five at bats!!! Jones is too good of a hitter to continue hitting like this. Look for him to regain his plate patience and start hitting like the guy we all have come to draft as a cornerstone of our teams the past few years.

3. Ryan Howard (1B-PHI) - Howard put up an amazing 58 homers and 149 RBI's last year for the Phillies... injuries and a slow start have contributed to a GREAT buying opportunity as he only hit 6 homers and driven in 23 in 29 games before going on the disabled list on May 10th... I have Howard in a keeper league and have recived several lowball offers over the past couple of weeks... Rule one of thumb in being successful in fantasy is to never sell low... take advantage of this buying opportunity if you can!!!


1. Torii Hunter (OF-MIN) - Hunter is a very good hitter, but he's not a .315 hitter. Always an injury risk, Hunter has also posted 16 doubles, 11 homers, 40 RBI's and 8 steals so far in 2007... While on the surface those numbers look great, a red flag goes up when you discover that he's only walked 8 times, while striking out 32 so far this year... That's only a 0.25 batting eye - prior to this year his batting eye was 0.36 for his career, so he's clearly regressed in that regard. This can only mean one thing - that .315 batting average is due for a BIG fall! A career .271 hitter, it's going to be hard for Hunter to keep his BA over that mark as long as he continues to strike out so much. I recently sold him for Rafael Furcal in a league. Yes, that was GREAT value! Get as much for him as you can NOW, before the numbers start to tumble and/or he gets injured.

2. Magglio Ordonez (OF-DET) - Ordonez has got to be one of 2007's biggest "feel good" stories so far, putting up a .361 BA with 23 doubles, 12 homers and 45 RBI's through the Tigers first 45 games. From 1999 thru 2003, "Maggs" was one of baseball's most consistently reliable power hitters, averaging 32 homers, 118 RBI's and a .310 BA... Injuries limited him to only 17 homers and 134 games total between 2004 and 2005. Last year, Maggs played the entire season, but his numbers weren't up to par with what he did prior to the injury - a 24 homers, 104 RBI's and a .298 BA. A career .307 hitter, you just now that his .361 BA will fall. If you've owned him and enjoyed the ride until now, it would be a good idea to move him. The injury risk is always there, and he's on a VERY unsustainable pace...


Lastly, I'll just make a comment on the NBA playoffs - I'll play some "hardball" with the officials here... if you didn't see what went on between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Detroit Pistons last night, it's probably best that you don't watch any highlights - particularly if you're a Cavs fan. Like with the Georgetown-Ohio State game in the NCAA tournament, the players weren't the ones deciding the game - it was the referees!!! Several HORRIBLE calls in the closing seconds last night (all going against the Cavaliers), along with several instances where the referees conveniently didn't blow their whistles when they should have for fouls on Detroit players turned the game into something that looked strangely familiar... A foul is a foul, whether it's 24 seconds into a game or with 24 seconds left to go... it's sad that the referees made so many mistakes last night. One can only hope that the Cavs can rebound from the defeat and that the players will decide the remaining games...


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