Saturday, October 30, 2010

Let's Talk Tennis: Who Is the Greatest?

A big thank you to Adrian Robertson for sending me the following link: It is an interactive tool at which compares the credentials of 23 male tennis players of the modern era to determine who, in fact, is the greatest of all time. Only those players who have won at least one major and been ranked World #1 are included. Thus, Rod Laver is excluded. He retired before the ATP rankings existed.

Five criteria are considered, I'm assuming in equal measure: weeks at #1, majors won, overall titles, career win/loss record and head-to-head record. With pull down menus, one can pit any two players against one another (John Newcombe vs. Rafael Nadal, for instance) with any or all of the above criteria and see who comes out on top (Nadal in the Newcombe match). I'm not sure all five measures can truly be considered equal but I will accept that each is objective.

Going through all of the match ups - and yes, I went through all of them - Federer comes out on top, beating everyone. No big surprise there. Sampras is second, losing only to Fed. Again, no shock.

Photo via

The interest begins with the rankings from 3 to 6: Lendl, Connors, McEnroe and Borg. Picking Lendl over Jimbo and Johnny Mac is no stretch. Ivan's head-to-head record against each is decisive: 22-13 versus Connors and 21-15 versus McEnroe. The much bigger surprise is that all three rate above Borg. In the more subjective discussions of historical tennis prowess, Borg nearly always falls in just behind Fed, Sampras and Laver, though Lendl has his supporters (myself included). As it turns out, though, Lendl, Connors and McEnroe all hold significant edges over Borg in both total career titles and weeks with the top ranking.

No one gets shut out. In fact, of all the 23, no one has fewer than two wins against the others. Juan Carlos Ferrero tops both Carlos Moya and Patrick Rafter. Moya beats both Rafter and Marat Safin. There are a few surprise results along the way: Safin over Boris Becker, for example. In this case, the fact that Safin won their only head-to-head match is critical. Take away that one match and the tables turn.

The youngest on the list is Nadal and he is likely the only one with a chance to improve his credentials significantly. He ranks just behind Borg at #7. At present, he trails Bjorn by two majors, 21 career titles and 51 weeks at #1. I'm assuming the stats will update automatically but I'll check in on Monday to be sure.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Football Fantasy: A Close Shave

College League: Squid loses, 75.89-75.67 (2-5 overall record)
Vermont League: Squid wins, 89.68-74.06 (3-4)
My MVP: Chad Ochocinco (Wide Receiver, Bengals) with 108 receiving yards and 1 touchdown

Photo via Media Zombies

My matchup in the college league was particularly exciting, as reflected in the score. I went into the Monday night game 16.8 points behind but with three players still to go, whereas my opponent (aka Special Dinner) had none. I needed only mediocre games from three Cowboys: Miles Austin (Wide Receiver), Felix Jones (Running Back) and Bradie James (Linebacker). James held up his end of the deal with a great game: 6 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. Austin and Jones? Not so much. Alas, I fell just short.

I am now two games out of the playoffs in the college league - not too good but I'm trying to stay positive. I feel a lot better about the Vermont league. I now have the same win-loss record as the sixth-place team but am behind in total points.

Ochocinco is my first return honoree in this space. I did have him in both leagues but, unfortunately, just let him go this week in the college one. Don't second-guess decisions, don't second-guess decisions...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October Baseball: The Stage Is Set

On the one side, we have the Texas Rangers, a team that has never won the World Series in its 49 previous seasons. In fact, they'd never even won a postseason series before this year. On the other, we have the San Francisco Giants, a team that hasn't won the World Series since before the Rangers even existed as a franchise, since they made their home in New York and their star center fielder Willie Mays made the defensive play of the century. In short, it should be a great series and long-suffering fans will get to celebrate in one city or another.

This is no small matter in either city. Of all metro areas which host franchises for all four major professional leagues, the San Francisco Bay Area and Dallas-Fort Worth Area have the longest title droughts. The 49ers won the last title in the Bay Area with the 1994 Super Bowl. The Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999, the last major title for the Dallas-Fort Worth sports community.

I'm sticking with the Rangers for the World Series. I am particularly pleased by Josh Hamilton's MVP performance in the American League Championship Series. To be completely honest, I'm naturally biased towards whichever team takes out the Yankees.

The Long Trail Project: Prospect Rock Redux

We closed the hiking season in the same place where we started it: Prospect Rock. Above is the spectacular view from the top. Below is the link to My Wife's post on the subject:

Hike #7 - Prospect Rock Redux

If you have an interest in knitting projects, she also has a recent post on that subject:

Other Life List Items: Knit a Sweater

In addition to yesterday's hike, I went on a long walk in our neighborhood yesterday, my first in a while. Walking is nice in the fall: cooler and no bugs. I happily watched a hairy woodpecker for quite a while. I'm looking forward to putting up the bird feeders soon: November 1st.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Men with Brooms: Quitting Time

So, where is the show headed at this point? Are we in for a prolonged romantic chase between Gary and April? Will it be a Seinfeldesque show about nothing?

Three episodes in, I can say that there is almost certainly a psychology major on the writing staff. Last week's primary storyline vaguely followed a stages of grief track and this week's focused on addiction issues. What's next? Dream analysis?

The characters and their relationships are starting to come into sharper focus but I'd say there's still work to do. Unfortunately, I don't find Gary particularly likable. He is portrayed as both insecure and manipulative - not inspiring qualities for a leading man. Matt actually comes across much better in this week's "Diet Pop Withdrawal" saga. Not that likability is everything. If Mad Men has proven anything, it's that one can build a compelling show around utterly detestable characters. But Don Draper, Sam Malone and other flawed leading men like them occasionally have heroic moments which preserve them in our esteem enough to care about what happens to them. I have yet to see that in Gary. Plus, he really only has developed relationships with two of the other characters: April and Matt.

The female characters could use some development as well. Despite her female lead status, we don't know a whole lot about April yet. She's an accountant. She's from Edmonton. She's addicted to caffeine. I think more interactions with the other female characters would help to develop her more. Furthermore, Tannis and Rani are portrayed as little more than nags.

I am more comfortable with where the other three characters seem to have settled. Matt is the goofy yet dependable confidant. Pramesh is the lovable nerd. Bill is the dumb slob.

I was pleased to see more curling in this episode. Pramesh, ice shy from his fall in the "Yurk!" story with Bill, is replaced for the game by Stevie, performed by Benjamin Beauchemin who definitely has a Daniel Radcliffe quality to him. I would have to say, however, that Gary's shoddy treatment of Stevie before he got his diet pop fix fell short of the Spirit of Curling.

Canadian English lesson: it seems they say pop in Canada rather than soda. Or at least they do in Winnipeg, where the show is filmed. I suppose it's not surprising that midwestern Canada would have some of the same lingo as the midwestern US.

The Link

Episode 3 - Quitting Time (viewable only in Canada)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Football Fantasy: Individual Defensive Players

College League: Squid loses, 79.52-65.65 (2-4 overall record)
Vermont League: Squid loses, 95.00-66.04 (2-4)
My MVP: E.J. Henderson (Linebacker, Vikings) with 2 interceptions, 2 passes defended, 4 solo tackles and 5 assisted tackles

Photo via Vikings Gab

My opponent in the college league this week shall go by the name of Wild Turkey. She is the wife of last year's commissioner or, just as accurately, last year's commissioner is Wild Turkey's husband. I consider both of them to be among my favorite people in the whole world and it is my good fortune, as well as theirs, that they are married and we get to see them as a package deal. As I wrote in a post last year, they introduced me to My Wife. 'Nuff said.

My overall records in both leagues are somewhat discouraging. However, I am still just one game out of a playoff spot in both cases so I am not losing hope yet. I'm feeling optimistic about the upcoming weekend.

E.J. Henderson is my second individual defensive player (IDP) to be featured in this space. He is also my first Maryland Terrapin of the season. I really like having IDPs on the fantasy roster. The IDPs in our college league are not position-specific but I am already giving thought to other arrangements for future leagues. One could have a full roster league with 2 DEs, 1 DT, 3 LBs, 2 CBs, 2 Ss and one flex on defense plus 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR flex, 1 RB/WR/TE flex and 1 K on offense: 19 total starters. Or why not a defense-only league, completely turning the fantasy football concept on its head?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Favorite Athlete: Soccer, Year 1

Our Girl's soccer season is over. The final record: 2 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss. Officially, it was a winning season. Good job, kids! They're still in the everyone-gets-a-trophy stage. Here it is:

I did ask if she wants to play again and she says she wants to play every year. I figure it's worth doing for as long as she continues to enjoy it. One parent tried to recruit her for hockey this winter. I'm not too sure about that one. It would be kind of cool to have a hockey-playing daughter but she just hasn't expressed much interest in the idea.

The big excitement for Our Girl this weekend was her personal makeover: a new, very cute haircut and (drum roll) getting her ears pierced. While my natural inclination is to discourage her from attaching too much importance to physical appearance, particularly her own, I do recognize that it's a big deal for a girl to start making her own decisions on such matters. Both of this weekend's big changes were her idea and the results are quite lovely.

Right after she got the ears done, she was admiring herself in the mirror as "True Colors" came on the sound system. Proud Papa just about lost it right there in the middle of Claire's. Fortunately for me, we were on our way out of the store.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Baseball: Go, Rangers!

With the Reds out of the playoffs, I am in search of a new rooting interest. Fortunately, I didn't have to look very far. Rangers all the way!

Not many will expect Texas to stand a chance at taking out the Bronx Bombers but I say all the more reason to pull for them. As everyone who followed the last round knows, the Rangers had never before won so much as a postseason series, let alone a league pennant. 49 years is plenty long enough to wait.

It would also be wonderful to see the story of Josh Hamilton's season last just a little bit longer. The team's ginger ale tribute to him after the ALDS win was just way cool. He did not have the best series at the plate: 2 for 18, a .111 batting average. Boy, it would be great to watch him and his teammates take out the mighty Yanks!

Men with Brooms: Death of the Birth Tree

First, a Canadian English lesson...

A twoney is a two-dollar coin.

One advantage of an ensemble cast is the fact that within a 22-minute show, it is possible to have 2 or more relatively simple story lines going on at once. It also provides an opportunity to group characters in different configurations in order to develop one-to-one relationships.

The primary storyline in "Death of the Birth Tree" is a character-development tale for the protagonist - standard stuff for a second episode. In this week's story, Gary must come to terms with the fact that various symbols of his youth are vanishing one by one, particularly a tree in the front yard of his childhood home. This sense of loss inspires great sympathy in new love interest, April. I have to admit that I was a little worried at first that the story would follow the use-sympathy-to-gain-personal-advantage angle to the end. That's a plot straight out of Situation Comedy Writing for Dummies. The chosen path was less predictable and I like that.

The second storyline to be introduced was the "Luck Sponge" tale between Tannis and Alex. This story wasn't as well-developed as the rest of the show (more on that in a bit) but I suspect it served mostly to establish a secondary love-interest possibility for the series.

The third storyline was the most fun: "Smugglers Kablam" as played out by Pramesh and Bill. This is not unusual for sit-coms. Go back and watch Friends now that you know how Ross/Rachel and Monica/Chandler ultimately work out. You know what were the funniest stories on that show? The Phoebe and Joey stories - almost invariably.

The story between Pramesh and Bill this time is a great one - the cool guy and the nerd find common ground over a ridiculously complicated board game. My first laugh of the episode was Pramesh's complaint that the Mouse Trap game set at the club contained only a real mouse trap. I love epic board games and was admittedly a sucker for this one. I didn't clock it but I'm guessing that in the end, this third story got more air time than the "Luck Sponge" saga. No doubt, it was an editing decision after filming but I'd say a great one. I hinted at this last week: Pramesh has that certain something. If there's a second season, I'll bet he gets a more prominent role.

Rani got short shrift in this episode, playing only supporting roles in two of the stories: Matt's confidant in Luck Sponge and twist-provider for Smugglers Kablam. Seven's an awkward number for an ensemble cast, I think. Most don't go above six and there's good reason for that. Let's hope she gets a more prominent story role in the near future.

I have a complaint about this episode: no curling! Yes, the club provides the main setting but I'm looking for more. It looks like the boys will be back on the ice next week.

The Links

Episode 2: Death of the Birth Tree (viewable only in Canada)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Football Fantasy: Time to Worry?

College League: Squid loses, 92.76-66.62 (2-3 overall record)
Vermont League: Squid loses, 120.52-65.08 (2-3)
My MVP: Miles Austin (Wide Receiver, Cowboys) with 9 receptions for 166 yards and 1 touchdown, 1 rush attempt for 4 yards and 1 solo tackle

Photo by crazylilsportslady

On the one hand, I now have a losing record in both leagues. On the other hand, I'm only one game out of a playoff spot in each. I'm not ready to panic just yet but wins this week sure would make me feel better.

An important part of being a Redskins fan is, of course, hating the Cowboys. I do. But there's no denying that Austin is one of the great stories in the NFL right now. He went undrafted in 2006 but has risen to elite status among league receivers in a very short time. As his fantasy football owner (college league), I am grateful for the big game he had this weekend. As a Skins fan, I'm glad Dallas lost anyway.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Update: Youth Soccer and So Long, Reds

Family Adventures: Soccer

Our Girl's team won its game yesterday, 1-0. I missed my chance at coaching last week as Wednesday's practice was canceled due to rain. I have to admit to being somewhat relieved. I'm sure I'll get another chance at some point.

Our Girl certainly enjoys playing but I have noticed that she tends to shy away from the ball when the crowd closes in around her. I asked her about it after the game and she admitted that she gets nervous. I reassured her that it should be easier as she gets older - kids won't clump around the ball quite as much. I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have been the same way. I never took the I-have-to-be-the-one-to-get-to-the-ball-first approach to soccer. Maybe that's why I liked playing goalie. Just keep the other team from scoring: I was comfortable with that mindset.

One moment really made me proud of her. At one point, she fell down - a genuine face plant. But she didn't hesitate for even a moment to jump back up and keep running. She didn't even do that little kid thing of looking around to see if anyone had seen her fall. I figure that's an attitude that will serve her well in life, whether she sticks with soccer or not.

One more week to go - practice Wednesday, last game on Sunday.

Bold Proposal

The Reds are out of the playoffs so the bold proposal shall live to see another year. I expect that whoever comes out of the Rangers-Rays series will become my new rooting interest for the playoffs.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Men with Brooms: Pilot

Photo via TV, eh?

Let me begin by saying that I believe the TV show works better than the film did, much as I expected. I think the 22-minute format is better suited for the concept. As I said in my review of the film, I felt that the story was trying to be too many things at once. The show, at least with one episode to judge thus far, seems to have settled on a more basic idea: quirky romantic comedy with a bit of curling thrown in for extra quirk. Start simple, then build. That's the path to success for every sitcom ever that was any good.

All shows take a while to find themselves. It takes time to establish characters, relationships, story lines and so forth. The first episode of Cheers ("Give Me a Ring Sometime") is just about as tidy as one could possibly hope for a half-hour show to be and yet even it is rough around the edges compared to later installments. In the MwB pilot, we meet all of the principals: the four members of the rink (all male), their main supporters (all female) and the narrator, Paul Gross, who also makes an on-screen cameo reprising his role from the film. The men are all rather clumsy and insecure whereas the women are more capable - not to mention far more attractive. As is often the case in a show's premier, a budding romance is introduced between protagonist Gary (played by Brendan Gall) and new-to-town April (Siobhan Murphy - I love the name Siobhan). So far, pretty standard stuff.

The show is genuinely funny, always a good sign for a situation comedy. My first out-loud guffaw came as Gary's ex lit up a blow torch. I watched the show twice and actually found it funnier the second time - definitely a positive.

I will be very interested to see to what extent curling plays a meaningful role in the show. In "Pilot," it provides a context for a first date. The club provides the primary setting. The men's interest and the women's indifference helps to establish the tension in their relationships. Right off the bat, there's an attempt to cast the game as metaphor for life. The writers have found clever and subtle ways to acquaint the uninitiated with the rules, culture and jargon of the game. In particular, I'll be watching for how well the show lives up to The Spirit of Curling...


I find the fact that the rink decides to throw the game in the "meatspiel" a bit disappointing - falling a bit short of The Spirit. However, I really like the fact that the rink that beat them shared some of the spoils - very much in The Spirit. Net zero - the jury's still out.


Generally, I am encouraged by the show's first offering. The concept has promise. The writing is good but as yet uneven, not unlike the film. That is certainly not unusual for a pilot and I hope future installments will flow better. The acting is generally strong, though someone needs to tell Aliyah O'Brien (the stunning actress who plays Tannis) that she could stand to speak a bit more slowly. Anand Rajaram (Pramesh) seems destined to become a fan favorite. His performance in "Pilot" is a little over the top but he obviously has show-stealing capability and could ultimately become the face of the show, I think.

The Links

Episode 1 - Pilot (only accessible in Canada)

Some of the CBC extras are accessible State-side:

Webisode 1 - The Crushers

Episode 2 promo - Death of the Birth Tree

Episode 1 Trivia (I scored 10/10)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Football Fantasy: Roppongi Moose Rampage

College League: Squid loses, 103.47-73.13 (2-2 overall record)
Vermont League: Squid loses, 77.64-72.04 (2-2)
My MVP: Jerod Mayo (Linebacker, Patriots) with 14 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles and 1 pass defended

Photo from

My opponent in the college league this week was Roppongi Moose, my fellow diplobrat. He was 0-3 coming into the week and none-too-happy about his team. They came through for him, though, especially his IDPs. I'm happy for him to finally get a win - I guess...

I am delighted to feature an IDP myself this week. Mayo, unlike my previous MVPs, is not Florida-born. He's from Hampton, Virginia. He was a tackling machine against the Dolphins last night.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Baseball Fantasy: Triumph

I won! It was close, though. I beat the runner-up by just two points. So, I'll finally get a trophy icon on my Yahoo! fantasy profile.

My Stalwarts

I finished the year with just nine of my 23 original draft picks: Matt Kemp (OF), Ryan Zimmerman (3B), Brian McCann (C), Shin-Soo Choo (OF), Dan Haren (SP), Josh Hamilton (OF), Heath Bell (RP), Rickie Weeks (2B) and Billy Wagner (RP). All but Haren and Wagner have been featured as either my player of the week, my player of the month or both. Haren had a disappointing year but the fact that I haven't acknowledged Wagner before this is shocking. He was the best reliever in fantasy baseball this year: 7 wins, 37 saves, 104 strikeouts, a 1.43 ERA and an 0.87 WHIP.


Photo via News Around the Globe

Player: Josh Hamilton
Position: Left Fielder/Center Fielder
Team: Texas Rangers
Stats for the Year: 32 home runs, 100 RBI, 95 runs, 8 stolen bases and a .359 batting average

Hamilton probably lost his shot at the American League MVP award by missing most of September due to injury. But then again, maybe not. He still won the league batting title and is the first batting champion to also record at least 30 homers and 100 RBI since Manny Ramirez in 2002. Plus, he's an outstanding fielder and the Rangers probably wouldn't have won their division without him. I certainly wouldn't have won the fantasy league without him so he deserves major kudos here.

Before this year, Hamilton was famous for all of the wrong reasons. The first overall draft pick in the 1999 draft, Hamilton has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for years. He has suffered through suspensions, rehabs and relapses and was out of the sport entirely for three seasons. With all of the attention paid to steroids over the past few years, it's easy to forget that baseball still struggles with broader substance abuse issues. Perhaps the cocaine troubles are not what they were in the '70s and '80s but cases such as Hamilton's serve as a reminder that there are great perils in the life of a star athlete: pressure, expectations, attention and far too much money at far too young an age. Even with all of the cautionary tales - Len Bias, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, etc. - too many young people fall prey to addiction.

There is, of course, a very big difference between addiction and abuse. Abuse is a choice. But addiction is a disease and should be acknowledged as such. Cocaine is the headline grabber but alcohol and nicotine are far and away the most prevalent drug addictions in the United States. Alcoholism has always been a part of sports - for fans and athletes alike. It is a problem which will always haunt Hamilton. All of the press regarding the Rangers' post-game celebration of their division title focused on Hamilton's self-imposed absence due to his addiction. Most praised him for his responsible choice and that is as it should be.

None of this should diminish Hamilton's accomplishments on the field. Indeed, the fact that he has managed to come back and be a productive player and also be open and honest about his personal struggle is all to the good. The sports world, indeed the world at large, is filled with stories of those who never made it back.

Thoughts for Next Year

I thoroughly enjoyed the season. However, as much as I like the Rotisserie format, the consensus in the league seems to be that a head-to-head set up would be preferred in the future. To me, planning week to week as opposed to day to day seems a little contrived for baseball. But then, what aspect of fantasy sports is NOT completely contrived? Furthermore, I think it is probably a more sociable set up and also helps keep everyone engaged through the whole season. Also, a head-to-head league allows for playoffs at the end of the season. Realism isn't really the point. Everyone enjoying the league is far more important. So, I expect we'll make the switch.

For the record, that's two changes to remember for next time:
- no league review for trades
- head-to-head format

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Let's Talk Baseball: Bold Proposal Final Standings

Following are the final standings for my bold proposal for baseball realignment. The basic idea is two divisions, upper and lower, determined by last year's final standings. The bottom three of the First Division are relegated for next year. The top two of the Second are promoted, along with the winner of a playoff between the next four.

First Division

1. Phillies (+4 from August)
2. Rays (unchanged)
3. Yankees (-2)
4. Twins (unchanged)

5. Giants (+3)
6. Braves (-3)
7. Rangers (-2)
8. Red Sox (-3)

9. Cardinals (unchanged)
10. Rockies (unchanged)
11. Tigers (+2)
12. Marlins (unchanged)
12. Angels (+2)
12. Dodgers (-1)

15. Cubs (unchanged)
16. Mariners (unchanged)

Second Division

1. Reds (unchanged)
2. Padres (unchanged)

3. White Sox (unchanged)
4. Blue Jays (unchanged)
5. A's (unchanged)

6. Mets (unchanged)

7. Brewers (unchanged)
8. Astros (unchanged)
9. Nationals (unchanged)
9. Indians (+3)
11. Royals (-1)
12. Orioles (+1)
13. Diamondbacks (-2)
14. Pirates (unchanged)

Biggest rise: Phillies

Greatest falls: Braves and Red Sox

And so...

- The top eight teams in the First Division would make the playoffs, the only difference from the real world being that the Red Sox are in (you're welcome) and the Reds are out (don't hate me just yet). My first playoff round: Phillies-Red Sox, Rays-Rangers, Yankees-Braves and Twins-Giants.

- The bottom three in the First Division would be demoted for the following year, so Cubs and Mariners both go down. The Angels, Marlins and Dodgers all finished with identical records so I'm going to head-to-head to make the call. Dodgers had losing records against both the Angels and Marlins this year and the other two never played each other. So, the Dodgers go down, too.

- The top two in the Second Division are automatically promoted so Reds and Padres move up. The next four would enter a playoff to determine the third promotion. That playoff's first round would be White Sox-Mets and Blue Jays-A's. The winners would then play each other. I'll give the White Sox the benefit of the doubt on this one and say they'd make it through.

After all that, next year's divisions would be as follows:

First Division


Red Sox


White Sox

Second Division

Blue Jays



The Reds, of course, have the opportunity to upset the apple cart on all of this. If they should win the World Series, I'll abandon the whole idea. Please understand, though, I want them to win (I did tell you not to hate me yet). I want to be proven wrong. I want to believe that more than just an elite group of teams have a shot at winning the World Series each year.

So, as the playoffs begin later this week, I will be watching the Reds with great interest.

Orioles Sign Off for 2010

This year was such a disaster two months ago. At the point when Buck Showalter took over as manager, the Orioles were on pace to lose 113 games. That they only lost 96 in the end is nothing short of extraordinary. How good has the brief Showalter Era been for the O's? Their winning percentage with two months under their new manager is .596. Extrapolate for the season and that would have been good enough for the best record in the American League.

For the first time in ages, the Orioles should head into next season with high hopes. The beauty of the strong end to the season is the fact that this is still a very young team, especially the pitching staff. If Showalter can work even a fraction of the same magic he brought this season, substantial improvement next year is a very reasonable expectation.

The off-season will be busy. Starting pitcher Kevin Millwood is likely finished as an Oriole, relieving the team of one of its biggest current contracts. Ty Wiggington is also a free agent now and one would hope that his re-signing would be a high priority. If they're to go shopping for new faces, I think offense should be the higher priority, though I hope the team won't crowd out the young talent which has come on so strong at the finish.

Perhaps the best thing for a strong team in 2011 would be a healthy Brian Roberts. Perhaps they could look for someone who could fill in adequately as the leadoff man, just in case.

Family Adventures: Soccer Parents

It's been a busy week for Our Girl's soccer team. They won a game on Wednesday and drew today. Today's was actually a pretty exciting game. There were actual some discernible passes between players and some strong, aggressive defense. Great to see!

We are quickly learning that the most frustrating aspect of youth soccer is the parents. Most are very nice and are happy and amused to just sit and watch. Some, however, cannot help but complain. Homer (our coach) is very good at handling it, though. One of the mother's gave him a hard time about making the field big enough. I guess her daughter had complained about it after the last game. His response was awesome: "This is how you open the conversation with me? Not thanks for coaching my kid? Not congratulations on your first win this week? Let's start again and pretend that didn't just happen." It was wonderful. I was proud of him.

I complimented him on his handling and of the situation later and he assured me that he gets loads of practice handling parents with the varsity girls team at the high school.

I will get my first taste of coaching at practice on Wednesday. Homer has a high school game so his assistant recruited me to help her out. The main challenge at this age is the kid wrangling. We'll see how it goes.

My Baseball Fantasy: The Day of Reckoning

Week: September 26-October 2
Current Standing: 1st out of 12
My Player of the Week: Carlos Marmol (Relief Pitcher, Cubs) with 4 saves, 7 strikeouts, a 0.00 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP

I am delighted to feature finally feature a Cub this season! I added Marmol to my roster when Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers) was demoted. He's finishing the year strong.

So, this is it. Today is the last day of the season. My lead is even slimmer than it was a week ago: 1.5 points. No night games today so we should know the outcome early. Of course, there's also the Giants/Padres/Braves saga to follow today. I'm pulling for the Padres.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Baseball Fantasy: September Player of the Month

Photo via PRO Rumors

Player: Shin-Soo Choo
Position: Right Fielder
Team: Cleveland Indians
Stats for the Month: 6 home runs, 25 RBI, 18 runs, 7 stolen bases and a .333 batting average