42 – the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything

Today in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color-line held by Major League Baseball.  At 28, he played his first MLB game in front of 26,000 spectators at Ebbets Field, and on that day he would fail to get a hit, but would score a run that led to the Dodgers wining, 5-3 over the Braves.  His achievement was one year before Harry Truman desegregated the military.  Jackie would became an example of non-violence and his talent helped challenge the foundations of what a man could do, not just the color of their skin.  He became the first athlete at UCLA to letter in four sports, (Baseball, Football, Basketball and Track).  Jackie would play in 6 World Series and win one in 1955.  He was the MLB Rookie of the Year in ’47 and won the NL Batting Title and NL MVP in ’49.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962 and owns a career batting average of .311.  But baseball was just part of the man – He became the first black television analyst in MLB, as well as the first black vice-president of a major corporation, Chock full O’Nuts.  He would help establish the Freedon National Bank in Harlem, a black owned financial institution.  Also on this day, eleven years later the first MLB game is played on the West Coast between the Dodgers and the GiantsToday is Jackie Robinson Day, and everyone wears 42!


 

After tonight, the real season begins in the NBA and we will know a few more things about what kind of heart these teams possess.  Everyone seems to have the will to win, it’s the will to prepare that separates champions, from the rest of the s’posed-ta’s.  With a big slate of games tonight, only two provide any drama and that is OKC and New Orleans.  Sure there is still the matter of Brooklyn and Indiana, but neither team will finish near .500 – real drama demands winning records.

The only way OKC makes the ‘offs is IF they win and the Pelicans lose – every other combination favors the Pelicans.  For my money, it’s a changing of the guard scenario I’m hoping for – sure, it might be the last time we see Durant and Westbrook play together, but it’s not like we haven’t seen what it is already with the injuries inflicted on each other.  Golden State v New Orleans seems more entertaining for my NBA dollar than does OKC.  Yes, Westbrook is a dynamo, but his one-man-band approach is tiresome and he loses as many games it seems, than he wins.

If none of that floats your boat as much as it should than consider this:  Minnesota, who currently has the leagues worst record, could easily maintain that mark by losing to OKC tonight – selling the drama.  Even more so, if you have watched the T-puppies, you would have noticed they have a nice young team and if they got the first pick – they could use it for something other than wing type players (they need a dynamic PG or Big) – making the selection either Okafor, or Towns.  Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, about who’s number 1 – it makes the ‘Wolves a potential contender.  Marinate on that for a bit.

Irony would be the Knicks, again creating conspiracy theories, by getting the 1st pick – like they did with Ewing.  This league has migrated to wing players, and if your a Knicks fan – do you trust a man who puts as much time in evaluation, as he does a cup of coffee?

But while we are talking about the strange and ironic – I’d like to give a shout out to Brad Stevens.  Sure Steve Kerr will likely take Coach of the Year honors, but consider the job that Stevens did with the Celtics.  Besides you Jon Beckwith, could any of you name 3 guys on the Celtics?  The Celtics will make the playoffs after trading their best player and using a boat-load of Duct-Tape to keep the roster together.  They will play the Cavaliers, whom they just beat recently by 39 – not that it means anything – but how sweet would that be for Celtics fan, who also suffers having a guy named Isiah Thomas on their team…


 

click to watch

 

That is the catch that Nolan Arenado made last night against the Giants in the bottom of the 8th – even better than the catch would have been the throw he made from the tarp for a double play.  There is a reason he is two years in and is also a two-time gold glove winner – it’s early, but he might have just sewed up his third with that play.  Even Baseball Tonight had to end their Web Gems with this play – the defacto #1.

However, as impressive as this catch is, the Rockies on the road have been more so.  Last year they won a paltry 21 games – they have 5 road-wins already.  Yes, it’s a long season, and they are still terrible at home (1-2), it’s a long season – and they are still in first place of the NL West all by themselves (tied for first overall with the Braves in the NL), again it’s a long season.  Most Rockies fans, use Coors Field as an occupier of time until the Broncos season starts, it’s a long season – The Giants were the only team the Rockies had a winning record against last year and it seems that they have no fear again, but it’s a long season.  We’ve seen this picture show before and we need to wait until the dog-days begin for meaningful baseball in September – but for the moment it is fun to watch and when the wheels fall off, we’ll forget all about the hope that sprung eternal in April.  Until then, BUY THE TICKET, TAKE THE RIDE!


 

Riddick Bowe, former Heavyweight Champion, guy who beat Evander Holyfield twice – a 43-1 record with 33 knockouts.  He is either a flash-mob genius or is so far down on his luck that he actually needs the $20 to tweet whatever you want him to, to anyone.  Riddick Bowe has 450,000 followers so even if 1% of his followers deposit $20 into his paypal account – he will earn $90,000social media genius.  You got to respect that hustle – what are followers for if you cannot monetize them?  It appears that some are already willing to pay for that luxury, as witnessed by the tweet below, yesterday.  So, What will @riddickbowe tweet for you?

I tell you all now @JakeLeeYes is twice the fighter I ever was. Thats whats up. Bowe

— Riddick Bowe (@riddickbowe) April 14, 2015

 


 

…in closing, this is your tax dollars at work – so clearly the answer is to play more daily fantasy games with us – check the RotoCanon Page for updates.

Diamonds in the DiRT

It was April 2nd, 1996 and a peppy kid dreamed to be exactly where he was now – except no one really dreams of being in Cleveland.  The city by the lake isn’t the kind of place where dreams come true in sports – hell, nothing good in Cleveland has occurred in the form of championship recognition since the 50’s with Jim Brown and Otto Graham winning titles.  Sure Cleveland’s had its moments. The Indians were good for a stretch in the 90’s, the Browns in the 80’s – they had and lost LeBron, only to get him back – but still the bridesmaid, never the bride and their hopes were always creatively ripped out of their chest only to be shown their still beating heart – Kali-Mah!

But on this Opening Day in 1996, new beginnings and hope belonged to the visiting team.  It was a sunny, brisk 38 degrees, with the wind blowing out to centerfield at a cheery draft.  Jacob’s Field, the epicenter of tribe fans wearing red, white and blue – a bunch of wahoos.  Long sufferring baseball fans in Cleveland had witnessed the eclipse of the dark-ages of baseball in their city, no longer made fun of by Hollywood and each season was a year long celebration that few players/fans ever experienced.  The Tribe was loaded and fresh off a 100-win season and their first World Series appearance since 1954 – they would win 99 games in 1996 and again have the best record in baseball.  Do you remember Kenny Lofton, Julio Franco, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, age less Eddie Murray, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Sandy Alomar, Omar Visquel – this was Cleveland’s Steel Curtain of baseball – the crowd was like a pack of crazed jackals and into town come the Yankees to start the season and another frenzied march to glory, to finally capture a title – all the Yankees brought with them was a new manager and a new shortstop.  “It’s our year!” – Cleveland fans shouted.

Game 1 of the season is rarely a hitchhiker’s guide to the future, but on this day – the God’s of baseball anointed a team, a manager and a shortstop for the next decade.  The Yankees would go on to win their first division title since 1981 and their first World Series since 1978.  Joe Torre would win the first of his 1,173 victories as manager of the Yankees – establishing during his 12 year tenure, 12 straight post-season appearances, winning 10 AL East crowns, 6 AL Pennants and 4 World Series Championships.

For the 22 year old shortstop, thrown to the wolves in Cleveland, all he did was become the first rookie shortstop to start the season for the Yankees, since 1962 – record his first-ever hit off El Presidente-Dennis Martinez, for a home run – building a resume for dramatic moments the rest of his career.  Career-In Memoriam, we do not get to watch Derek Jeter play shortstop for the Yankees anymore and it’s amazing to think back to that brisk April day in Cleveland where the legend began.

 

With Opening Day approaching, a time where we move past the winter of last year’s struggles to blossom once again on what might be.  A time to share a hot dog and a beer with someone special, a time to return to your youth, looking forward to it like a birthday party.  Baseball is seductive to anyone with an enduring interest, knowing exactly how it should be played, secretly believing they could do it – if only the good lord saw fit to make them less inept.  At least Fantasy Baseball let’s you prove your GM skills.  So you weren’t successful today, like baseball, there’s always tomorrow’s lineup.  In honor of the approaching National Holiday here are some alternate position examinations:

Yogi

Catcher

Matt Wieters – had Tommy John surgery so his issue becomes how many at-bats can he get to, but if he can reach at least 400 of them, he should bounce back.

The Beast, Double X

First Base

Aside from Goldschmidt and Miggy there are several other 1st basemen to consider.  Like Adam Lind for the Brewers who gets a shot to start full time and should hit in the 5 hole were he could hit 20+HR’s.  Someone who was productive last year that should see a regression this year is Chris Carter.

Jackie

Second Base

Chase Utley – the Phillies could be terrible but Chase will bat 3rd and will have a chance to provide a surprising rebound – not sure what kind of dead-cat rebound it’ll be, but it could be considerable, for stretches at a time.

Cal Ripken Jr

Shortstop

Stay away from Xander Bogaerts and Jean Segura as both are slotted to bat 8th.  For Xander, batting 8th in what might be the best offense is bad news – batting 8th is never a positive for your lineup.  For Segura and Bogaerts potential on the field does not equate fantasy value consistent enough.

Brooks Robinson

Third Base

Kris Bryant – whenever he gets called up, he has the potential to be a dominate player and another in a growing list of young talent in the game.  But the questions remain, relating to his strikeout rate – almost 30% last year in Triple A.  What does that mean for daily leagues?  It means that you should watch his Batting-Average-Balls-In-Play, because if that doesn’t negate the strikeout rate then he will be a consistent hit-or-miss play.  Either way he will be fun to watch.

Clemente, Mays and Aaron

Outfield

Christian Yellich – is getting a lot of press and is part of one the best outfields in the NL – however consider how often he hits fly-balls – less than 20% of the time.  If you believe he gets 600 plate appearances this year, only 120 of those will generate fly-balls – then multiply that by his Home-run/Fly-ball rate which was 15% last year (3.5% higher than his average) – that is 18 HR’s and he is batting second and likely will not steal as often in front Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton.

Michael Cuddyer – has only recorded 500+ plate appearances once in the last 3 years and now that he is with the Mets and still batting 5th, there is not much to suggest that he has much value left in the tank – or the health to sustain solid numbers.

Corey Dickerson – has the batting average talent, but struggles against lefties and until you see that change you have to pay attention to that matchup.  However if he gets 600 plate appearances he could be a top 5 outfielder with a healthy Tulo and CarGo.

Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Warren Spahn

Pitchers

You have to look at how many innings they pitched last year.  Example being Bumgarner pitched 270+ innings in 2014 and so expect him to have rest and lightened workloads to save him – plus the Giants only win in even years.  Too many innings is the result we see from all those pitchers breaking down – it has the Tigers worried for Verlander and Wainwright is 700 innings removed from Tommy John Surgery.  Think of it like this – pitchers usually are in the 25-30% risk for injury category and Wainwright is more like 40%.  So look for those new young guys that have the promise for consistency like Jake Arrieta, Jacob DeGrom and Carlos Rondon.

 

As they said in Bull Durham: “it’s an easy game, you catch the ball, you hit the ball, you throw the ball…and sometimes it rains