A’s make blockbuster move on deadline day

http://espn.go.com/boston/mlb/story/_/id/11290302/jon-lester-traded-oakland-athletics-yoenis-cespedes-boston-red-sox

Wow.  We have definitely pushed all our chips to the center of the no-limit table.  Let’s hope the other players take notice–or not, whatever.

A’s get Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for a tremendous young talent in Yoenis Cespedes.  hashtag, moneyball.

Fangraphs Blog has a tremendous read below on the Lester trade, focusing mostly on A’s side of things.  Very well done and very quickly done.  Impressive.

Jon Lester and the A’s Fascinating Big Bet On 2014

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Holder v. Bassford in the Battle of Imaginary Depth Charts.

NOLA.com’s Larry Holder offers his thoughts on the Saints Depth Chart thru 1 week of training camp.

Below is my version.  Which is better?

 

Only a few differences between the two–mostly in the secondary where I have P-Rob starting and he has a 35 year old man starting.  I also have Victor Butler starting where he has Parys Haralson.  I’d really rather see Victor Butler in that spot though that’s not to take away from Haralson who was good last year.  I simply think Butler has a greater upside and I want to see him respond well to last year’s injured season.

roster7.30.14

 

Champions across the Sporting World. Not all equal.

Everything about sports screams competitive spirit. Sports are all about testing your mettle to see who is best. So it only makes sense that one of the biggest arguments year to year is based on how we go about the business of selecting a champion come season’s end. As it turns out, not all champions are created equal. Likewise, not all sports have the ability to say their champion is of the highest quality–because, what does “best team” mean? Does it mean, best all year long?  Best team within the last two months? Even worse, some sports do a down right terrible job of selecting a champion, and historically, others have not even tried to address the issue.

Simply put: professional and college leagues are all over the map when it comes to evenly and fairly selecting a champion from amongst their ranks. Some are closer than others. But almost all are off by at least a noticeable margin.pic7

pic2When it comes to the length and layout of postseasons it’s easy to highlight the outliers. Looking at you, two-month-long NBA post season! And you too, overly exclusive NCAA Football post season! You guys have the wrong amount of people invited to your respective postseason parties and for the wrong amount of time, too. Let’s fix it, whaddya say?

Baseball has overcooked its regular season since the Braves were Beaneaters (125 Years!!). Plain and simple, the Major League Baseball Season is way too long. Every other professional and college sporting season has their regulation year in order. Except, that is, for baseball. So, let’s go back in time and reduce the baseball season to 120 games and call it a season in mid-August and thereby, shorten the season by one and a half months. Sounds great? Of course! What’s next?pic3

College Football? Wow. Just wow. I mean, you did so well in designing your regular season that one would believe you could actually rope in the prize for a playoff. Not so much. NCAA Football does a tremendous job of maintaining a dramatic and wide following throughout the regular season–though, some of that may be due to the finality that even a loss or two may cripple a team’s season also due to the postseason–but has historically had a terrible relationship with crowning what the meat-eating public would consider a true champion. Keep in mind, even a two team championship game is technically a playoff; it’s simply a really really small playoff—as small as one can be. But even before the despised BCS system was in place, fans were still distraught come crowning season as previously the sport simply surveyed the field at the end of the season and the polls decided their own champion. See that last note as: “Each poll deciding its own champion.” So, I suppose you could say that there’s at least SOME progress being made, but, when you consider that us humans run this damn thing you would believe that if we didn’t like it we could just change it. Not so, my friends. Not so.

Ok NBA, you’re pretty good overall when it comes to deciding a champion. You have a pretty good sized regular season, you play a ton of games close together throughout your season, you don’t take up the national attention too much throughout the calendar year, but damned if you don’t take all of 2 months deciding who your freaking champion will be. I mean, COME ON, MAN!!! Get on with it already and pick somebody.

So with all that in mind, it would be a fool to approach the table without being able to provide some reasonable solutions. It’s a rule you know.pic6

Really it’s simple. Suck it up and change some stuff folks. Let’s start by removing a few inches (feet, really) from your regular-season waistline, baseball. NBA? You invite too many people to the after party. Get more exclusive!!! Instead of letting them come to the after party, send them seats to the All-Star game. Right next to Chris Bosh. Ha. (Because he won’t be there…Won’t be there playing the game! The All-Star Ga—nevermind.) College Football, open up your crowning party, will ya!?!? You guys are acting like freaking skull and bones, for Pete’s sake!

And while we’re at all this, March Madness, get rid of that Tuesday Wednesday play in garbage, ok? Great, all fixed here.

10 Things that get me through the Offseason.

TV and Movie Mediagameofthronespic

TV Shows – At the end of the day, I’ll take anything, really. But, the shows that make me read page after page of online chapter summaries like GoT are what really make the year go by fast. Luckily, between binging on Walter White, Don Draper and Frank Underwood, I’ve had some really great options over the last two years.

Game of Thrones – This is, hands down, the greatest show on television right now. Even if you aren’t in to dragons and zombies there’s still boobs and gore to keep the action moving. The plot lines are fresh and varied and this show isn’t afraid to knock off the most beloved characters at inopportune times.

House of Cards – Man, where did Frank Underwood and this show come from, amirite?!? This web-series show is amazing, congrats Netflix! I generally don’t get into political dramas—I never saw a single episode of West Wing—but this show, and Kevin Spacey specifically, is too good to pass up.

Orange is the New Black – No, this is not simply an opportunity to watch gobs of hot women being forced to live with relatively few male counterparts. Actually this is yet another amazing Netflix original web-series that combines unique storyline with electric upstart talent.

Breaking Bad – Walter White is dead. But man, if you haven’t binged every episode of this show you might want to wait until February 2015 and thank me later when you wake up from your blue-meth-induced coma right before NFL Kickoff 2015.  It’s primarily how my wife and I got through the Summer of 2013.

Mad Men – I’ve binged on this all spring/summer long and now I’m ready for the Spring Finale! Long live Dick Whitman!

Summer Movie Releases — Technically, I haven’t been to any summer movie releases this year, but you get the idea. They’re fun, they’re epic and when I was in my late teens, I once led a dozen dirtboys-in-training to the release of the epic action-drama Armageddon and watched all of them (myself included) lose all sense of self by shedding tears like running backs shed would-be tacklers.  Though none of them would be likely to fess up to such “unmanly” acts.

2014nfldraft

NFL Off-season activities

NFL Draft – There’s an inverse relationship between how much a football fan enjoys a particular year’s draft and how well that fan’s team played in the prior year. So, I suppose it’s a good thing that for the last decade or so the NFL Draft has been ho-hum for Saints’ fans. It’s definitely panned out better for us lately than a Ditka-Williams infused draft-day.

Free Agency – Who will get the big Free Agent talent? This year, just like in 2006, WE DID!!! WHODAT!!! Every April just before the draft, teams align themselves so that they can be in good position to at least poll that year’s best and brightest free agents. Not all teams sign the best players, and not all rumors are true; but, odds are, if you have a favorite football team, they’re involved in a trade or FA signing rumor.

NFL Network – Between the innovation of the Redzone Channel and the application of NFL Rewind, the NFL Network has been shortening the gap from Super Bowl to Training Camp.

College Football Offseasonnatlsigningday

Spring Football – For most folks, Spring Football is simply an opportunity to have a small, lightly observed tailgate in the spring months. If you live in the south, you get 30 some odd days of this and you call it college baseball. Regardless, Spring Football is a good chance to see early enrollees get some playing time and also a perfect opportunity to second guess your coaching staff before any meaningful snaps are taken.

National Signing Day – Leave it to football fans like me to romanticize a non-event event such as National Signing Day, hashtag NSD2014. I actually took a day of leave from work for this year’s version and kept track of LSU’s signees minute by minute. I mean, I’m staring at a computer screen refreshing every couple of minutes to see if a state university has received a signed document from a teenager. That’s it! And people actually think I have sane tendencies!!!

LSU Baseball

Listen. If you don’t love college baseball there is something horribly, horribly wrong with you. But I’ll offer you this. I parallel a person’s lack of affection for college baseball to an atheist/nonbeliever’s lack of commitment to any particular religion. Just because a person doesn’t know how awesome a thing is doesn’t mean they should be turned away from the promised land. However, if a person witnesses the wonders of college baseball and still doesn’t willingly partake and unconditionally love the sport of college baseball…? well, fires of hell for them. Kidding/Not Kidding.

This thing called Pro Baseballmlbopeningday

If you don’t like college baseball there’s still a good chance that you might like major league baseball. The start of the MLB season is one of those few events during the American sporting season where your average employer totally understands if you call in sick and take your kids to the ballpark. Unfortunately, most pro baseball teams have been eliminated by mid-year, which makes for a very long season for most fans. If your team is playing well (like my A’s are this year!!! Watch out WS2014!!!) it can really liven up some otherwise empty summer weekends.

March Madness

There’s not a whole lot that can compare to the first weekend of March Madness. College Baseball’s postseason has a tremendous first weekend, but until ESPN or another cable sports outlet gives them the airtime (actual network airtime; see: not online) they deserve, they simply won’t garner the same size national love and appreciation.

NBA Season

It’s the professional version of basketball competition and really they do just about everything wrong. SEE: ARTICLE

fifa-world-cup-2014-brazilInternational Competitions

FIFA World Cup – Because Soccer exists, no matter how much we try to deny it.  Yes, I love my country.  Yes, I’ll support them whether they’re playing cricket, football or soccer.

FIBA World Cup – This exists.

World Cup of Baseball – This too.

Olympics – It’s hard to get a good year where you’re both interested in the sports being played (see: Summer Olympics) and also have a year where the games are being held in a city that isn’t time zone prohibitive. Case in point was this year’s Winter Olympics which had neither of the fore mentioned qualities. It was a) the Winter Olympics (because, curling) and b) held in Sochi, Russia which is 9 hours ahead Central Time—which meant that prime time events were held at 10am, right around the same time you were on your second cup of coffee…at work.

boobsBoobs

You know, life has many boobs. (I might very well be one of them) But boobs do make the world go ‘round. I happen to know this first hand because a) I’m a self-proclaimed “boob-man” and b) my wife has boobs. Why is that second point important? Using the transitive property, let’s follow the logic train:

1. Boobs are widely respected and found on every continent, nation, state and city in the world. No matter where you go, boobs are likely only an arm’s length away.

2. My wife has boobs.

3. Football exists because my wife allows me to enjoy it. (enjoy football, not boobs–but yes, I do enjoy her boobs as well)

(also important to note that the presence of an offseason allows my wife a needed respite between seasons, without which, there would be no tolerance for said regular season)

4. Football is likely the greatest human invention ever.

Kids

Naturally following the preceding discussion, we have kids. Kids are pretty cool. And, contrary to what I’d like to tell you, they can be awesome even when they’re awake. Why, just this past weekend I watched all three of my kids learn and recite a full Blues Brother’s quote and without even the slightest bit of bribery. See? Life is good. Just like item number 8, if you have a handful of kids (like the wifey and I do), time can really fly.

 

Vacation

Summer is vacation time. No matter where you live, it seems like everyone enjoys getting the hell out of wherever they call home and ruining someone else’s home just to be able to make it through the rest of the year. There’s the normal summer vacay period, which can cover either all of the kids’ break between spring and fall semesters or there’s the holiday period of July 4th but there’s also Spring Break and a handful of other offseason break periods to get a football fan safely from season’s end to kickoff.  Also, some vacations are better than others.