3rd Stone from the Sun

You just got lesson number 1, Don’t think….

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It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

A. Bartlett Giamatti

The cruelty of February has been on display.  In one week we lost a ‘Dean’, and a ‘Shark’, sprinkled in between some other strange things afoot.  Word is Boston has put out an A.P.B. on a precocious princess who doesn’t understand “when”.  The sports-media continuously acts like a co-dependent spouse in an abusive relationship – still trying to make up for getting picked last, only to wait for another sip of jock-strap tea.

Do we really need hand-writing analysis of A-(f)Rod’s apologetic letter, is there an outcry for more articles of how he spends his day and the troubles of being A-(f)Rod?  I’m pretty sure we get who he is and every athlete like him – like in any relationship, we want trust.

If given the chance to increase your earning potential tenfold, are you sure you would avoid a magic-pill that promised you wealth and fame – with the only downside being what people think of you on twitter/FirstTake as you do whatever, whenever, however you want?

Not one of the millions of wrestling fans complain about HGH/PED’s/Steroids et al – No one cries out in disgust when an actor does it playing an action hero. Remember when you saw Rocky IV, and after seeing Rocky run in the billowy snow, lifting wagons full of boulders and people, chopping wood etc – remember how big you thought Rocky was, how ripped – there is no way he looks like that cross-country-skiing – and whats worse is he was twice that size in the last Expendables movie – and Stallone is 69 – So why is A-(f)Rod always singled out as a bad guy for whatever it was he did, (#TheTruthIsOutThere).  Besides we were told by Nike: “Chicks dig the long ball“, so what were we gonna expect?

It’s because it’s baseball.  Baseball is what we are, Football is what we have become.  Baseball is a church.  It’s playing catch with your Dad, warm sunny days and hot dogs, cold beer, green grass, brown dirt and a snow white baseball with as many stitches as beads in a rosary (108) – and every Spring, every team has a chance – including the Rockies (at least until July when they fold like carnies after the Fair).

It’s the history and the records – we know what “56” means – we know the two people who have over 4,000 hits – we know the top 3 career HR hitters – even if we feel cheated that they cheated – is it not what we would do already every day, in some way?  In the Future, we will have someone who has an artificial eye, then what – create ‘special’ leagues for those who replaced a lost body-part with a robotic component and scream they have an advantage?  The guy lost an eye for cryin-out-loud!

I don’t know, I love the game and I am a realist, or maybe I’m still in recovery and still disappointed I did not have a magic-pill to get me that elusive 8th gold medal of debauchery – not even sure I qualified, the rules keeps changing – but soon there will be baseball, and birds will sing, and we’ll worry less, we’ll dress a little more comfortable and everything will be in harmony – until July, when we all start thinking about football again because the Rockies are choking like a fat-kid chipmunking saltines and peanut butter .  Anywhoooo…..

It’s a golden era for California baseball and you’d have to go back to New York in the ’50’s to find a time and place comparable to what’s going on in the land of waves, sand and palm trees.  In the 46yrs of baseball in SoCal, the last time the Angels, Dodgers, and Padres all finished above .500 was 2007.  So with the additions the Padres made this off-season you’d expect them to improve their win total from 77 wins last year.  Does James Shields give them 8 more wins? Is 85 wins the magic number for a wild card berth?  The Padres have only won 90 games 4x’s in their history – the same amount of times they have made the playoffs – 3 of those in the wild card era, (last one 2006).

So what that means is, the National League West is a lot more difficult for the teams that play in the Mountain Time Zone.  You expect the Dodgers and the Giants to compete for the division, but you could also expect the Padres to contend for one of the wild cards.  And here is where we get a little nuts – The Dodgers have NEVER made the playoffs 3yrs in a row and have failed to win 90+ games 3yrs in a row since ’76-’77-’78, and the only time the Padres AND the Dodgers won 90+ games was in 1996.  Granted there is another Wild Card now, so…..

That places the Rockies in a weird spot, so stay with me…Crazy is a term of Art and insanity is a term of Law – The Marquis De Sade did a lot of crazy stuff, but wasn’t insane until he was jailed – remembering that will save you a lot of headaches – and saying the Rockies have a chance is just crazy.

If we assume on “paper” that the Dodgers and the Nationals are the two best teams in the National League and could be the two best teams in all of baseball – we will assign them each with 91 wins – based on lots of different formulas.  Aside from those two teams no one else really stands out – based on those same formulas run, we’ll list the Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, and Pirates with 83-86 wins.  Leaving the Padres, Marlins, Mets, Reds and Rockies around 76-81 wins.

So from there we make the leap that two playoff spots will be occupied by the Dodgers and the Nat’s, leaving 9 teams vying for 3 spots.  Now, it’s a bigger leap of faith to think the Rockies can go from 66 wins to 86, but the ’13 Orioles were a 78 win team before they won 96 and the AL East in 2014.

All of this gets flushed down the hypothetical toilet, if the Rox cannot stay off the training table.  There is no way we use 15 different starting pitchers again is there? Tulo+CarGo have to be all done with shortened seasons, right? Maybe Latroy Hawkins goes out in style – maybe Rex Brothers remembers how to pitch – maybe Jordan Lyles was for real until a freak injury – maybe DJ Lemahieu unloads a LSU-days stat-line to go with his gold glove D…

The point is they have a lot of guys that are decent ballplayers and all it takes is a few things to go there way.  The Rockies were better than their 66 wins last year, and if all pistons were firing, they might have been more like a 77 win team – this year, with a few breaks they could get to 86 (only 9 more wins above expectations).

Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There’s 6 months in a season, that’s about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gorp… you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.
— Crash Davis

The Dodgers and the Padres have history going against them and the Padres defense is not very good.  So why not us?! The Rockies have the best infield in baseball, when healthy, and the last time we saw a great defense, average starters, strong bullpen and a healthy Tulo was ’07/’09.

So the Rockies could be due, it’s possible – it worked for the Royals – or maybe I’ve caught a bad case of Spring Fever again.  I am NOT insane, Opening Day is 49 days from now!!! (first pitch in 40 days).

“This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” Think about that for a while.
— Nuke Laloosh


***Update – Tonight’s NBA Fanduel Ideas – by ‘The Man in the Iron Mask***

Here is the breakdown:

 Must Haves:

  1. (PG) John Wall – Playing against Cleveland tonight who has given up 44.3 points per game in Fan Duel scoring over their last 5 contests.  Combine that with an All-Star hangover for the Cavs and John Wall is averaging 42 Fan Duel Points per game for the season, look for yet another consistent performance.  Our prediction analyzer shows Wall will score 22 points to go with 12 assists tonight.
  2. (SG) Kevin Martin – Playing against Phoenix who has given up 40.3 points per game in Fan Duel scoring over the past 5 contests combined with their latest effort to tank the back half of the season this should play out for a huge outing for Martin.  Add to it, Rubio is back in the mix and Young was traded at the deadline; someone has to score – so look for Martin to get you at least 35 Fan Duel Points tonight.  Prediction analyzer shows Martin scoring 29 with a couple of assists and one steal.
  3. (SF) Kris Middleton – Milwaukee plays one of the worst teams in the league over the past 15 games in the Denver Nuggets.  Add to it, the Nuggets really don’t want to win and are giving up an average of 37.4 points per game in Fan Duel Scoring – Middleton is a lock.  Our prediction analyzer shows Middleton scoring 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.  If he can throw in a steal and a block you might squeak out a 40 point performance for the $6,600 you will spend on your lineup, which happens to be the team average spend.
  4. (PF) Paul Millsap – Let’s just say, Toronto is giving up 45.2 points per game in Fan Duel Scoring and Millsap averages 33.9 for the season.  This is a marquee matchup so look for Atlanta to prove it is a power house and Millsap will lead the charge tonight.  Prediction analyzer shows Millsap scoring 24 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists.  You should get a 40 spot for this spot on your lineup.
  5. (C) DeMarcus Cousins – He is second in Fan Duel scoring for the season at 45.5 so does it really matter who he plays against? He is a lock, every single night – if you can make his overwhelming $11,000 fan duel salary work then you know you are going to get a 50 spot.

 Sleepers

  1. (PG) Deron Williams – Really???!!!  Yes really, he is playing the Lakers tonight who are giving up 43.6 over their last 5 contests and 44.4 for the season in Fan Duel scoring.  You combine that with the fact that Jack is hurt – look for a descent game for the price of $5,300 and you should squeeze out 34 Fan Duel Points tonight.  Prediction Analyzer says 15 points, 11 assists and 3 rebounds in 30 minutes of play tonight.
  2. (SG) Wayne Ellington – Yes, I know a Laker on your lineup does not sound promising, but look at the bright side – Ellington has averaged 15 points per game over his last 5 and Brooklyn is giving up 40.0 Fan Duel points per game.  Ellington is a cost of $5,100 so the cost benefit to get his 25 Fan Duel points for the night is basically a guarantee.  Prediction analyzer says Ellington will score 18 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds tonight in 26 minutes of action.
  3. (SF) DeMarre Carroll – $5,400 salary for one of those players on the Hawks that most people have no idea who he is.  That said, he is averaging over 20 points per game in Fan Duel scoring and Toronto is giving up 38.0 points per game over their last 5 contests.  Prediction analyzer shows Carroll scoring 15 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds.  Should be a lock for at least 25 points on your Fan Duel Lineup.
  4. (PF) Nene Hilario – Coming in with a Fan Duel salary of $5,300 here is yet another below average cost player with an optimal lineup.  Toronto is giving up 45.2 points per game in Fan Duel scoring over their last 5 games and Nene simply gets rebounds and scores points.  Prediction analyzer shows Nene with 18 points and 13 rebounds.  He should boast at least a 30 spot on your Fan Duel lineup tonight.
  5. (C) Tyson Chandler – Coming off a decent performance last night, Chandler posted yet another double double.  He should cross that barrier again tonight with our prediction analyzer showing him at 14 points and 16 rebounds.  His cost of $6,500 on Fan Duel should prove to be worth the 35 Fan Duel points he will post tonight playing against the Howard-less Rockets. 

Likely Training Table Casualties

  1. (PF) Anthony Davis – Game Time Decision and what can you say, if he plays, you should have him on at least one lineup.  He will get you at least 45 points in Fan Duel and is worth the $11,000 salary.
  2. (PG) Jared Bayless – Game Time Decision with a hamstring issue.  Keep in mind the Bucks just traded for Michael Carter Williams but he is also hurt and unknown if he will play, keep an eye out for this one.  Bayless is only $4,100 in terms of his Fan Duel salary for tonight and the Bucks are playing the Nuggets who are giving up a league lead 44.7 points per game in Fan Duel scoring to the point guard position.
  3. (SG) Dwayne Wade – Bosh is out, Wade hasn’t played in how many games? Look for him to have a big night in preparation for Dragic to join the team tomorrow.
  4. (SF) Tobias Harris – Listed as questionable, Harris was tearing it up before his knee issue came back again.  Prior to the break he was averaging 39 Fan Duel points per game and has an optimal opponent in New Orleans tonight giving up the 3rd most Fan Duel points per game to the small forward position.  Keep an eye on this one as he would be a must have in our list if the injury bug wasn’t hanging out there.
  5. (C) – Nothing to note here other than the fact that there are really only about 6 players that you want to choose from on this list each and every day.  Take Cousins or Chandler tonight and you should be in good shape.