Friday, April 28, 2006

Stuff on Fantasy Baseball, the Draft, and Idol

If you play any kind of online rotisserie or fantasy sports, you should be paying attention to the latest fuck-ups by MLB. Seems that MLB wants to get a piece of the financial pie that online services have been reaping for running fantasy baseball leagues, so they’re extorting money from these online sites to cover “licensing” of player names. See, the MLBPA gave up the rights to the players’ names in exchange for the toothless piss-in-a-cup policy, and the suits at MLB threatened every online site that sells or hosts fantasy leagues for profit with a lawsuit if they didn’t cough up roughly $1-3M (varies by site) for the rights to use the names of the ballplayers.

Only three major sites paid up: ESPN, CBS Sportsline, and Yahoo. That’s why you’re not seeing or or anyone running fantasy leagues like they used to. (one of my admitted money drains) also refused to pay, so now when we search the database of historical players for our sim teams, we have BOS OF 1946 and SF OF 2001 instead of Ted Williams or Barry Bonds. It’s totally fucking ludicrous that the shitbrains at MLB don’t realize that fantasy sports HELP the bottom line of MLB by increasing interest in otherwise meaningless games (say, a September Tampa/KC game) and probably sell more than a few PPV Season Ticket packages.

In other words, ANY fantasy or rotisserie baseball league that uses ANY income-generating website is potential lawsuit fodder for the greedy fun-suckers at MLB. So if you’re using your blog to track MLB fantasy baseball and you use the players’ names and you have any affiliate deals or banner ads, you might be next on the litigation list. There is already a counter suit from CDM [details here], but it hasn’t been decided in the 15 months since it was filed. This is the equivalent of the NCAA coming out and claiming that they own all of the college basketball teams in the Tourney, and that anyone setting up an office pool owes them licensing fees. I hate Bud Selig and Donald Fehr.

Quick draft prediction:

Houston picks Bush. Ooooh, he got freebies from an agent. Isn’t he horrible? The funny thing is that I saw an article that said “Does this revelation hurt Bush’s draft status?” Oh, please. Like the NFL now has people checking character…
New Orleans picks Mario Williams. A couple of possibilities here for trade. The teams picking four through eight might be looking to move up, almost all for different people. The Niners have been talking up Vernon Davis at six [and he’ll be there], but really should be looking at Williams, Ferguson, or AJ Hawk, all of whom are likely to be gone by their pick. The Raiders are always capable of doing something incredibly stupid, like trading up to get Vince Young or Vernon Davis.
Tennessee picks Matt Leinart. All that shit about Vince Young is a smokescreen. Norm Chow coached him, Jeff Fisher is a USC alum. Leinart will be in Tennessee powder blue next year, assuming the Jets don’t trade up to take him.
This is the swing pick. The entire draft hinges here. If status quo reins, Ferguson goes here. Don’t be surprised to see the Jets fielding phone calls right here (or at least pretending to). If I were the Jets, I’d be telling the Raiders that I’ve been getting calls from Arizona and Detroit about moving up to take VY. If the Raiders package their 1st this year with someone/something else, they might move into this slot. They might also take Vernon Davis because their old fart QBs (Feely, Pennington) like throwing to the tight end. If the Jets move down, it’s to take Cutler, who won’t be as overrated as the 7th pick (and 3rd QB) or Davis. That’s where it’s a poker game.
Green Bay might also be ready to deal. If they don’t, they’ll probably take AJ Hawk. They should be looking at Chad Jackson, who’s a reach at 5, but would fit perfectly with Favre/Rodgers and the offense.
The Niners need Hawk and/or Ferguson. But they have too many gaps to fill, so they shouldn’t trade picks to move up. Worst case scenario, they take Vernon Davis and get a tight end who can’t block, essentially a faster version of Dwight Clark. Possible scenario, they take a DT like Ngata or Bunkley and have Bryant Young teach them the ropes. Best case scenario, the Jets take a QB (Cutler or VY) and Hawk/Ferguson drop to the Niners.
Interesting scenarios abound here. The Raidahs should hold their ground and wait for VY to drop to them, then trade back for more picks and let someone else (Arizona) deal with Wunderlich Boy. Aaron Brooks is signed for two years, Andrew Walter is waiting in the wings, they don’t need a QB. They’re better off taking a DB like Michael Huff.

After the top seven, all of the intrigue is gone, unless VY/Cutler freefall like Aaron Rodgers did last year.

Quick hits:

- Ran my TPTK into a slowplayed overpair again. Oh well. Some of you might call it a “leak”. I just don’t give enough people credit for slowplaying.

- Bye-bye Pickler. I think she kept getting votes just because she’s the type of girl that guys could get drunk and bang in college, and then tell them that nothing happened.

- How wasted is Paula each week? I think her pharmacist keeps upping the dosage on her meds each week just for giggles. P.S. It’s working because I’m endlessly entertained by her almost frightening mood swings and crying jags.

- Final two are McPhee and Daughtry. You know it. I know it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Moderately profitable poker night while watching the Sharks dismantle the Predators in a battle of the best new nicknames in sports. I’m still deciding whether the best way to play SnGs is by watching sports and playing by the numbers, or focusing on the table and taking copious notes and basing plays on trends. By the way, “moderate” is defined as around $50-75 profit; yesterday it was $66 (2nd in a $30+3, and 3rd in a $25+2). No fancy plays, no special hands, although I lost with AJs to QQ that hit quad queens.

Anyway, the opening sentence makes me think about something that I’ve wanted to opine about for a long time. Franchise nicknames. Without being asked, here are my top five franchise nicknames in sports, bonus points for originality and applicability with minus points for repetitiveness (Tigers being the most omnipresent).

1. Sharks – The logo is great, the home arena (“Shark Tank”) is aptly nicknamed, it lends itself to a mascot that isn’t excessively cute or cuddly: IMHO, the perfect type of franchise name.

2. Predators – Cool logo, though essentially a saber-tooth tiger (arrgh, not another tiger!), it inspires the right kind of power and aggression. And bonus points for originality.

3. Raiders – An entire persona has been built around the “Silver and Black”, more mystique than all other nicknames combined. ‘Nuff said.

4. Pistons – Think about it, they pound up and down, they’re always pumping, they might not be anthropomorphic, but the name conveys an ethos that carries to the team.

5. Steelers – Seriously, can you think of a team name that is less transportable than this? OK, so the Utah Jazz kept the name (wrongly), but can you imagine any other city hosting the Steelers?

Almost made its: Panthers (minus points for Carolina/Florida picking the name around the same time), Jaguars, Cowboys (I just hate them), Astros and Supersonics (for their regrettable uniforms in the 80’s), Bulls

And of course, the worst team nicknames currently in operation. Teams with a historical purpose for their names (Yankees, Dodgers) and/or ethnic identifiers (most NHL teams, Celtics, Knickerbockers, etc.) are exempt from inclusion.

1. Columbus Blue Jackets – Who the hell thought of this one? “Hey, check in the closet, we might get inspiration from something hanging there… It’s.. a… blue jacket! Let’s run with it.”

2. New Orleans Saints – Hmmm, we have a team in the NFL, we need to think of a nickname that inspires fear and trepidation… I know, let’s pick some old religious guys!

3. San Diego Padres – See #2, not quite as bad because, well, there are padres in San Diego, but there sure as hell ain’t no saints in New Orleans.

4. The Mighty Ducks – No comment needed

5. Atlanta Thrashers – Might as well call them the Atlanta Epileptics or Spazzes. Thrashing is just about the last thing I want to do on ice. It’s a shame because other Atlanta teams have relatively cool names (Hawks and Falcons, Braves are a borrowed name)

6. Any team named for a disaster – Avalanche, Hurricane, Heat, Lightning, Earthquakes… Sheesh, have a little bit of sensitivity to people that have loved ones actually DIE from this shit. You don’t have teams called the Tower Snipers or the Suicide Bombers, do you? I suppose sharks and predators eat people too, but at least they make cute mascots.

Almost made its: teams who have moved but kept the geographical identifiable nickname like the Lakers (“Yeah, I was just sailing out on Lake Wilshire Blvd”) and Jazz, teams that kept the sponsors name (Red Wings, Packers)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Back from vacation

One week. Zero poker. First time in over two years I can say that.

Just haven’t felt the itch recently to poke around in the FTP Horse rooms or the PokerStars Turbo rooms. I’ve spent (wasted) a lot of time fiddling around in WhatIfSports baseball leagues. I have ten active teams right now and a couple that I’ve committed to that are awaiting a few more entries before they fly.

I was in Phoenix for a few days with the family, escaping from the Seattle-like rain that has drenched the Bay Area for the last couple of months. Played tourist around the area, going to a tourist trap ghost town (that the kids loved), hung around the hotel pools [note: the Pointe Tapatio Cliffs has a waterslide, eight swimming pools, five Jacuzzis, and way too many underage girls], played some tennis, went to see some greyhound racing, and saw the Giants play the Diamondbacks at the renamed BOB. It was a full four day trip. And tons of fun.

Chase Field (nee BOB) is a gorgeous field set in downtown Phoenix, if only half full. The fans there were one blip away from being catatonic and I’m pretty sure I was the loudest person in the park (my wife agrees). The Giants jumped out to a 7-0 lead while the DBacks were looking like Tanner and Lupus and Ahmed before Kelly Leak showed up. When the DBacks got to the Giants pen, carnage ensued and they quickly leapfrogged into a 9-7 lead going into the eighth. After a walk to Vizquel, the DBacks went to their closer.

Now it got funny. They blasted loud salsa music through the speakers, put virtual flames on every square inch of scoreboard, and pulsed “Papa Grande” on the Jumbotron in twenty foot letters to announce their closer, Jose Valverde. You’d have thought that he was some bullfighter coming in for the kill or something. Well, his third pitch got hammered about 450 feet by platoon player Mark Sweeney to tie the score. I was laughing and screaming so hard, I’m sure the fans in their cars on the way home could hear my cackling. The game-winning RBI in the ninth was almost anti-climactic after such a resounding crash from “Papa Grande”.

Anyway, the park gets a 9+ from me for looks and comfort, and about a 2 for ambiance. A gorgeous facility to see, but an absolutely DEAD crowd and the organist/scoreboard combination is constantly trying to defibrillate the audience. Fenway gets a 6 for looks and comfort and a 9 for ambiance. Walking next to the Monster is amazing and the sausages outside of center field are the best I’ve ever had. Dogger Stadium gets 4 for looks and comfort and 4 for ambiance. It’s looks old in person and the fans are more concerned with beach balls than the game. PacBell/SBC/ATT park gets an 8 for looks and comfort and 7 for ambiance. The views and sight lines are great and the fans are there for the game, not the pyrotechnics. The Oakland Coliseum gets 3 for looks and comfort and 3 for ambiance. It’s basically a shithole.

My entire family gives a big thumbs up to greyhound racing. Believe it or not, it’s completely free to watch. You can walk right into the facility and see some exciting racing. Of course, you’ll want to bet, so you’ll buy a program for $1.50. Betting is standard with WPS, quiniella, exactas, trifectas, superfectas, and a lot of other fectas to waste your money. So you’ll notice that I said that I hadn’t played any poker, and I didn’t say “no gambling”. Well, I suck rocks at picking dogs and dropped about $30 over the eight or nine races we watched. Predictably, my ten-year old daughter picked the first two winners (but wouldn’t let me bet on them). For the third race, I overruled her and placed a bet on her favorite who promptly came in last. Sigh. I didn’t have a single winning bet. Not one. But everyone had a great time, so my $30 was well spent.

I totally recommend Phoenix as a destination for a long weekend. I probably could’ve snuck out for some casino poker, but was pretty wiped out from staying out all day in the bright sunlight and 85 degree temps. We flew in Saturday afternoon and stayed until Tuesday night, and managed to do a ton of fun stuff and still left some on the table. Greyhound racing is a fun and cheap diversion, especially since they run about every 15 minutes and isn’t like horse racing and their interminable 30-minute breaks. Chase Field is a must for a baseball fan, especially during the mild spring days. I don’t think it would’ve been as fun in the summer in the 100+ degree heat.

I’ll probably be back online tonight, getting back into the HORSE saddle. I wish the $20 or $30 HORSE tables would fill, I could use the work. My last $10 Horse tourney, I busted out early when I got burned in Razz with a made 76 on fifth street against a runner-runner 75. Eh. Que sera sera.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

OK Thursday before Good Friday

I’ve been slacking off poker-wise recently. Not sure why, my balances online are still healthy, my play has been decent, I’m just in a motivational lull right now. Kind of a palate cleansing perhaps, preparatory to the WSOP feast that sure to come.

Won another HORSE SnG on Monday. Seriously, these things are good poker calisthenics for me. It enables me to do the online equivalent of push-ups, jumping jacks, pull-ups, etc., with no real skill development. The play is uniformly horrible, all it takes is a little patience, a lot of paying attention, and about an hour of my time. The DonkeyPuncher sweated me for a little bit and suggested that I move up from the $10+1 wading pools to the $30+3 shark tanks. But why? After all, I’m WINNING about 40% of these and placing/showing in 40% more. While I won’t be buying a Jaguar with my winnings, I can build my poker bankroll quite easily this way, thank you. And it doesn’t seem like work. $30+3? Sounds like work to me…

My brother-in-law asked me if I wanted to play in a local (underground) tournament in a couple of weeks here in the bay area. Apparently, he had won a couple of satellites and had an extra seat to a $300+ buy-in tourney run out of some local warehouse. It was really tempting, but the Boy has baseball, and I’m committed to coaching his team. The depressing thing is that my bro-in-law is a really bad poker player. Really. Really. Bad. As in, I would stake Trevor against him in a freezeout h2h. And he won TWO seats to this thing. God only knows how bad the play would be… Anyway, I asked him to hang on to the seat as long as possible just in case, but I doubt he will.

I’ll be sunning in Phoenix over the Easter weekend with wifey and kids. Since we’ve literally had three solid months of rain, it’ll be nice to get to the desert. Of course, we’ll immediately find some water to play in, but it’s the principle that matters. This way, it’ll be voluntary. It’ll be kayaks and cannonballs, sunscreen and mai-tais, not raincoats and sandbags. Have a good Easter everyone!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Nothing in life is free...

Here’s something that counts as a bit of a free roll. If you have a spam-able email address (and I know you do), you can register at to win a million bucks! All you have to do is guess the EXACT order of every division in MLB this year, along with getting each playoff series right, and you can win ONE. MILLION. DOLLARS.

Oh sure the odds are astronomical, but given that it’s FREE, your EV is, oh, about .0003 cents, which is infinitesimal, but at least it’s positive. Remember, use your seventeenth email address or you'll probably get slammed by the spambots.

Here’s the link. . Good luck!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Baseball Preview

OK, this is cheating a tiny bit [since the season started a couple of days ago], but here are my predictions for the upcoming baseball season.

NL MVP – Poo-holes – Best player on the best team rule. Barring injury, he’ll have an MVP run like Bonds’. Sleeper choice – Lance Berkman

AL MVP – Lots of contenders here. If the Angels win the West, it’s Vlad. If the Red Sox win, it’ll be Papi. Since neither of those teams are picked, I’m going with… Gay-Rod. He’ll put up 45 HRs, 130 RBIs and the numbers are too big to ignore. Sleeper choice – Eric Chavez

NL Cy Young – Roy Oswalt – Always good for 18-20 wins. Nasty pitching motion. If Houston wins the wild card, he’ll be in the top three voting guaranteed. Sleeper choice – Jake Peavy

AL Cy Young – Rich Harden – He’s ready. He’s already better than the much ballyhooed Hudson/Zito/Mulder troika . I see 22-6, 2.80 ERA as a real possibility. Sleeper choice – Josh Beckett

AL East
The Wankees will reign supreme. Money talks. George is already targeting who he’s gonna buy off during the midseason fire-sales. I don’t see the Red Sox contending for the division, though the wild card remains a hope. The last three [Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Toronto]… well, who cares, though I think Tampa has a good base of young talent.

AL Central
The White Sox pitching is tough to overcome, especially now that they’ve added Thome. The Indians are the trendy pick will their young stars (Hafner, Peralta, VMart), but their year will be next year. Minnesota will be .500 again. Detroit will be within 6 games of .500, but Kansas City has already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs… Until 2010.

AL West
The A’s and the Angels will be fighting this one out, with the A’s likely prevailing with greater depth and Vlad being so fragile. The wild card battle between the Angels, Indians, and Red Sox will be the most exciting race in the AL this year. Seattle is just like Minnesota, and Texas is just like… well, Texas.

AL Playoffs
White Sox vs. Red Sox/Angels – Either way, pitching talks, and the White Sox roll.
A’s vs. Wankees – Another tough series of experience vs. youth. Cy Young winner Rich Harden will pitch and win the decider.

White Sox vs A’s – White Sox win this one partially because the previous series will wipe out the A’s starters. White Sox repeat as AL Champs.

NL East
Atlanta will win the division. This is a recording. For 194,092 straight years, the Braves have won this division, I ain’t betting against them doing it again. The Mets are improved, but still dependent on the 72-year old Glavine and the 53-year old Pedro. The Phillies, Marlins, and Nats will all be around .500. just like last year.

NL Central
Uh, the Cards are the best team in baseball. And I hate the effing Cards! Houston will contend for the wild card, as will…. Milwaukee. Look for the Brew Crew to be in the thick of it in September. Pittsburgh is improving, now they only suck a little bit. And the Cubs have asked Fergie Jenkins to come back so Dusty can eff up his arm too.

NL West
The Giants are the best team out west… if Barry plays. Here’s a formula to try out. Take 60 games as the bare minimum this team wins. Multiple the number of games Barry starts by 0.3 and add them (e.g. if he starts 120 games, multiplying that by 0.3 = 36 games). That makes 96 games, enough to win easily. The Dodgers will be a close second, followed by the Padres, DBacks, and horrible Rocks.

NL Playoffs -
Cards over Giants – Not much to say to this other than… I hate the effing Cards!
Astros over Braves – Oswalt and Pettite vs. Smoltz and… er, some other guy.

Cards over Astros – Replay of last years’ NLCS

World Series
Cards over White Sox.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Effing rain...

BONUS ENTRY - OK, since everyone is on the Poker Champ gravy train, here's my two cents. It probably isn't someone who's been actively blogging about poker. There's just too much damn content. The guy is articulate, uses correct punctuation, uses verbs consistently without mixing tenses, and writes bad prose deliberately (a pretty tough skill). There are a couple of possible identities, several have mentioned Daddy. To be honest, the prose is too measured for Daddy, his version of Poker Champ would've been much more profane and more of a caricature. No, my best guess is a name that's been missing from the poker world for a while now... The Fat Guy. The writing skills are there, the lack of poker blogging, the knowledge of the poker blogging community, the knowledge of the vernacular, as well as the skill to use to effectively. Nope, gotta be the Fat Guy. Unless I'm wrong, then it's him

- Welcome to effing Seattle South. It’s rained 35 out of the last 40 days here. My son’s baseball team has had seven games rained out already. Yesterday, they were scheduled to play an international exhibition game against a team from Lithuania and got rained out, so the league had a pizza party for them. I told the league director we should’ve had t-shirts printed that said “I went 6000 miles to play ball, and all I got was pizza and a t-shirt”. She didn’t think it was funny.

- My daughter hasn’t even played a freakin’ game yet, so she technically hasn’t made her softball debut. In other disturbing news (for a father), my wife told me that my daughter is wearing a training bra now. Sigh. Time to sharpen my samurai sword.

- Mrs. Commish is out of town for the week, taking a training class in Chicago. I suggested that I could ask DP for some good restaurants around her hotel, but she just said, “Why the hell would I want to go to a strip club?” Smart lady.

- Did anyone even watch the Florida-UCLA game last night? Once I got word that I cashed in Pauly’s pool, I stopped caring. I got a glimpse of the game while I was flipping between the Giants opener and the Sharks game. I would’ve been much more interested to see the two cheerleading squads mudwrestle for the title. Thank god it wasn’t Duke vs. Stanford. Those SATs really ugly up a cheerleading squad.

- No more Dick Vitale. Thank god.

- Some schmuck threw a syringe at Barry Bonds yesterday. Don’t they know that the cream and the clear aren’t injected? One is a topical balm, the other is absorbed under the tongue. Hecklers need to do more research. If you really want to bug him, wave signs about his first wife or his alcoholic father. Now I’ve seen him get REALLY pissed about those subjects.

- Brett Favre, Roger Clemens. Quit. Now.

- With the Mrs. out of town, you’d think that I’d be playing more poker. Well, that was the plan. I played a $25+2 two-tabler at RiverStars and after being shortstacked after losing consecutive AK vs. pocket pair races, fought my way back to the final five. I played a hand exactly right and lost. I picked up pocket tens in BB, one limper UTG and SB completed. I kicked to 4xBB to isolate and the limper pushed. Right here I’m pretty sure he has a small-to-medium pocket pair and he thinks he’s racing against a big Ace. SB folded, and I have to decide if the pusher would limp with JJ or higher. I guess right and call his pocket fours. Flop is blank, turn is blank, river is… FOUR. Instead of a HUGE chip lead in the final four, I’m forced to push from SB with 63s. I’m tilting big time (plus the Sharks are in overtime), so I swear off poker for the night.

- What’s with all of these obscure poker sites running televised poker tournaments? Are there really enough lousy poker players to keep these sites going? Is it worth buying the airtime to televise some nobodies playing bad poker? Does it really increase their deposits? Why am I asking so many rhetorical questions?

- Is anyone planning to watch the Barry Bonds reality show? I’m a freakin’ Giants fan, and I have no interest. I can’t imagine the disinterest in the rest of the country.

- Rain rain go away. Come again... NEVAH!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Does this mean I'm a shark?

OK, if I'm reading this right, it means I played 155 SnG tournaments in the sample period (no idea when they started counting). I've made a profit of almost $900 in that time, which puts my ROI around 43%. Hmmm, I think that's pretty good, and roughly about what I would've guessed.

This screen shot courtesy of (with footnote to Nerd for pointing it out)