Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Completely Misleading Headline

This almost borders on libel.

There is no word on which prospect actually flunked a drug test. However, this headline would have you believe it was the oft-maligned Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett.

Poor form Rotoworld even if the guy doesn't have a sterling reputation.

Catch Up, Thoughts, and Observations

It's been way too long since my last post. I have been working on another project (details below) and hope this catch up post will bring us back up to speed.

*It's Opening Day!!! One of my top-10 days of the year, maybe even top-5.

*I was recently hired to do some writing for I will be covering the Texas Rangers this season. You can follow here: (RSS-friendly).

[Check back often as I get paid-per-click. Thanks. ]

*My Rangers Offseason Review / Season Preview article, can be found here.

*I tweeted this yesterday, but how on Earth can the Washington Nationals justify spending $126m on Jayson Werth and then have the audacity to send Livan Hernadez to the mound on Opening Day? Why bothering trying?

*My crazy Opening Day prediction: one of today's games will determine a playoff spot.

I am not sure if it will be the Brewers and Reds battling for the NL Central, or the Tigers and Yankees battling for the AL Wildcard, or the Dodgers and Giants battling for the NL West, but one of these teams will look back at March 31st and think "if we had only won that game..."

On to some non-baseball stuff...

*If Adam Schefter wasn't way-too-politcally-correct, this tweet would have said, "Matt Leinart knocked up Jordan Cameron's sister." Instead, we got this:


*I lost my NIT pool thanks to an epic choke job by Colorado and a pathetic showing from Washington State in the semifinals. Brutal.

*On the NCAA front, my bracket is a mess like most everyone else's but at least I have Kentucky going strong. If they reach the title game, I can still win my pool.

*Just a guess, but I don't think Grant Hill shed any tears when he read this:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa...

Adam Kennedy is NOT a star. If you are keeping score at home - and why wouldn't you be - this is his second DUI of 2011.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Bracket

I haven't seen much love on the web for Kentucky or San Diego State so I'm hoping those two selections will distinguish my bracket from the rest. I'm a big believer in the Wildcats and thought they got shafted with a 4-seed despite crushing Florida (another one of my Final Four teams) in the SEC title game.

I played home court advantage along with my newly developed formula which accounted for offensive and defensive points scored / allowed per possession, turnovers, and rebounding. It also factored in star power and the three leading scorers per team. Looking back, I wouldn't be devastated if it doesn't work because it was a little complex.

For posterity, here were the top 10 teams by my formula (one glaring omission: does not take into account strength of schedule): Ohio State, Pitt, San Diego State, Utah State, Kentucky, Texas, Cincinnati, Old Dominion, Kansas, Florida

Teams that were vastly overrated, per my formula: Georgetown, UCLA, St. John's, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, North Carolina

Teams that were egregiously underrated, per my formula: Utah State, Cincinnati, Old Dominion, Texas A&M, Villanova, Gonzaga
We'll see in a few weeks - likely sooner - how wise this formula was.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NIT Pool

We had eight entrants in this year's NIT pool, a 60% increase from last year. Here are the picks:

Final Four Final Four Runner Up Champ

Banter Alabama Dayton Colorado Washington State
Larry Miami BC St. Mary's Virginia Tech
Ricky Miami Northwestern St. Mary's Virginia Tech
Nick Murray State Oklahoma State Virginia Tech St. Mary's
Rizzo Miami BC Colorado Vermont
Craig New Mexico Long Beach State Virginia Tech Colorado
Mike W St. Mary's Virginia Tech Washington State Alabama
Ryan L Alabama Oklahoma State St. Mary's Virginia Tech
Ryan M Alabama Oklahoma State Colorado Nebraska

It Only Took 45 Tries... crown the 2011 NBA champs. It's going to be a great postseason.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Separated at Birth?

I don't watch much Spring Training action, but I happened to catch the Mets game on Sunday when RHP Taylor Bucholz took the hill. He reminded me of another awful reliever:

Bucholz and Aaron Heilman

Let's hope this guy works out better than our old enemy.

Who is in for an NIT Pool?

Here's the bracket:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This Should Be a Tweet

Of the 28 first round games, 12 - YES, TWELVE - have a spread of two points or less.

This. Is. Going. To. Be. A Great. Tournament.

* = Four matchups have not been decided yet because of the play-in games

Bracket Thoughts


*On Thursday, I'll reveal my final bracket.

*Can we stop calling these four play-in games "first round" games?


*Ohio State and North Carolina are playing their first and second games at home (Cleveland and Charlotte, respectively). Huge edge, as if they needed it.

*Newark, the site of the regional, figures to be a neutral site.

*This seems like the most difficult bracket. I can make a case for at least six teams winning this region.


*Kansas will have homefield advantage throughout the tournament.

*The Louiville-Vandy-Richmond-Morehead State combo is the worst quartet in the first two rounds.

*Purdue and Notre Dame get to play at home for their first two games.

*If Texas A&M can sneak by Notre Dame in round two (assuming a round one victory), they'll be the home team in this regional despite being a 7-seed.


*Duke playing at home for the first two rounds despite being in the "West" region.

*This is the weakest region of the four. Duke lucks out again. Shocker.

*I have been planning my upset pick of UConn since last Friday. Unfortunately, none of their opponents or potential opponents in the first two rounds can challenge them. They are headed for Anaheim.


*The upset bracket. Things could get crazy here.

*I love the Wisconsin-Belmont matchup. Complete difference of style.

*Florida gets to play at home for the first two rounds.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Need At Least One Superstar to Win the NCAA Title

Over the last 15 years, no team has won the NCAA Title without a future first round pick on the roster. (Duke projects to have at least two first rounders from the 2009 team although none has officially declared yet for the draft.)

It stands to reason that the best teams would have the best players.

Check out this chart which identifies the players picked highest in the draft following a title:

1996 Kentucky Walker Mercer Delk McCarty Anderson
1997 Arizona Bibby Terry
1998 Kentucky Mohammed Magloire
1999 Connecticut Hamilton
2000 Michigan State Richardson Cleaves Peterson
2001 Duke Williams Dunleavy Boozer Battier Duhon
2002 Maryland Wilcox Blake Dixon
2003 Syracuse Anthony Warrick
2004 Connecticut Gordon Okafor Armstrong Villanueva Boone
2005 North Carolina Williams May Felton McCants
2006 Florida Noah Brewer Horford
2007 Florida Noah Brewer Horford Speights
2008 Kansas Aldrich Rush Arthur Chalmers
2009 North Carolina Hansbrough Lawson Ellington Davis
2010 Duke Smith Singler Plumlee

What does that mean? Well, using ESPN's Top 100 Rankings, we can safely assume one of the following teams will win this year's title:

Team ESPN Rank - Top Prospect
Ohio State 3 - Sullinger
Arizona 4 - Williams
North Carolina 6 - Barnes
Kentucky 8 - Jones
Texas 12 - Thompson
San Diego State 13 - Leonhard
Connecticut 15 - Walker
Brigham Young 16 - Fredette
Kansas 17 - Robinson
Morehead State 18 - Faried
Duke 19 - Plumlee
Colorado 21 - Burks
Florida 25 - Young
Georgia 28 - Thompkins
Florida State 31 - Singleton
Richmond 32 - Harper
Tennessee 35 - Harris
Purdue 38 - Johnson
Texas A&M 39 - Middleton

Not exactly rocket science, but it helps to eliminate some teams (Notre Dame, Pitt, Syracuse, and Wisconsin to name a few) thought to be contenders.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ninth Through Twelfth Teams Into the Dance

[I am writing this from a plane so apologies for the brevity.]

As of midnight tonight, a dozen teams have officially locked up a berth in the Big Dance. Of those, about half have a chance to win a game. Of tonight's bunch, only one has a shot (Oakland).

Oakland: Intriguing because of center Keith Benson.

Arkansas Little Rock: Blah. Finished middle-of-the-pack in the Sun Belt.

Long Island: After some early season failure, the Blackbirds have won 21 of 22. They are balanced offensively with five players scoring between nine and 13 points per game.

Northern Colorado: Devon Beitzel can fill it up, and they are a very good offensive rebounding team. Interesting squad.

No conference tournaments have their finals tomorrow (which makes no sense; one of the "lesser" conferences should have used Thursday as an exposure opportunity on ESPN) so we'll have to wait until Friday before any other team punches a ticket.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This is Actually Happening?

Pitchers might soon have to don headgear. Yes, this is really happening.

My favorite feature: the temple protector.

I understand comebackers are a serious issue, but is this really the way to solve the problem? How often does serious injury actually occur? If it saves one life, is it worth it? Would we ever be able to quantify if this gear actually did save someone's life?

Lots of questions, but here's one more:

Which pitcher will be the Craig Mactavish of MLB?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The World Is Ending [Sarcasm]

A two-month investigation by Yahoo! Sports found that Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel knew his players were selling memorabilia months before the university self-sanctioned themselves.

Earth-shattering news.

Or not.

Seriously, does anyone other than one of the people who wasted two months of their lives "researching" this issue care at all?

My guess is no.

The Sports Banter for Droid

The Sports Banter is now available on Droid phones. Go to to get an app for your phone.

It's free, and it has alerts so that you'll know whenever there's anything new.

Fifth Through Eighth Teams Into the Dance

All four of tonight's automatic qualifiers can win at least one tournament game.

Old Dominion: The Monarchs upset Notre Dame in the first round last year and figure to be a 10-seed this year. They lack meaningful size, but that is to be expected coming out of the Colonial.

St. Peter's: Offer good balance with four players scoring in double-digits, but their tallest rotation player is 6'7. If they get a nice matchup against a short-ish Big 6 team, they could surprise.

Wofford: The Terriers will make their second straight appearance in the Big Dance after knocking off Charleston in the Southern Conference title game. They almost beat Wisconsin in the first round of last year's Dance and shouldn't be taken lightly despite what figures to be a low seed.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs - a team that I overrate every single year - took care of business again in the West Coast Conference. To date, they are the only team in the Dance with an actual center...which means I am bound to overrate them again in 2011. Believe at your own risk, but don't let them break your heart.


The NCAA does not get many things correct. The institution often alienates the revenue-generating members which comprise it (see Jeremy Bloom and Andy Oliver cases).

Last April after seriously considering expanding the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament from 65 to 96 teams, they thought better of it and decided on 68 teams. In a shocking turn of event, this decision actually seemed to make sense.

Upon further review, however, the method of adding these new teams is befuddling at best.

Instead of matching up the eight weakest teams against each other with the winners facing the top seeds in each of the four respective brackets, only the four lowest ranked teams will face each other (winners will be seed 16th). Then, four other teams identified by the selection committee will face each other with the winners seeded 11th, 12th, or 13th in the main bracket.

Why should four teams that the committee identifies as being "better than" at least 10 other teams* have to participate in a play-in game?

Pure stupidity.

* All four of the 14 and 15 seeds plus two of the 16 seeds

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fourth Team Into the Dance: Indiana State

The Sycamores knocked off number one seed Missouri State in the Missouri Valley title game to steal a bid to the Big Dance. They may be well-balanced but they can't put the ball in the basket, and they lack any meaningful size. One and done.

Chances of Springing a Tourney Upset: Low. No Larry Birds on this team. Actually, their top three scorers combined averaged less points than Bird avergaed as a freshman at ISU: 32.8 vs. 30.3.

Third Team Into the Dance: Morehead State

The Ohio Valley champs knocked off Tennessee Tech to secure their bid into the 2011 tournament. The Eagles offer a dangerous inside-out combo of Kenneth Faried (the NCAA's all-time leading rebounder) and Demonte Harper.

Chances of Springing a Tourney Upset: Moderately High. Led by the All-American candidate Faried, Morehead State is more than capable of pulling an upset.

Second Team Into the Dance: Belmont

With a victory over an overmatched North Florida squad, Belmont punched their ticket to the Big Dance. The Atlantic Sun champs have a deep bench, star power, and experience. I like this squad a lot.

Chances of Springing a Tourney Upset: High. They are a dangerous matchup for any team, and I would not want to face them in 5-12 game.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

First Team Into the Dance: UNC-Asheville

With a victory over Coastal Carolina in the Big South title game, UNC-Asheville becomes the first team to secure a golden ticket into the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The third-seeded Bulldogs sprung a minor upset over the top-seeded Chanticleers who were playing without their top scorer. It was an ugly game from start to finish. Pretty unimpressive from both sides.

Chances of Springing a Tourney Upset: Exceedingly low. They have no superstars. They have no size. Their leading scorer jumps when he shoots free throws.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quiz Time

Take this baseball quiz.

I got 16 out of 20. Kicking myself on two. Had no shot on the other two.

How'd you do?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Win Totals

Chicago (AL)9285.56.5Over
Tampa Bay8884.53.5Over
Chicago (NL)8481.52.5Over
San Francisco9088.51.5Over
New York (NL)78771Over
Los Angeles (NL)8483.50.5Over
San Diego7575.5-0.5Under
New York (AL)9091.5-1.5Under
St. Louis8283.5-1.5Under
Los Angeles (AL)8183-2Under
Kansas City5568.5-13.5Under
Total Wins24322438.5

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Haven't Cleveland Fans Suffered Enough?

I almost feel guilty making fun of Cleveland, but they are setting themselves up for disappointment again.

Our Idiot of the Week

According to James Walker of ESPN, Carson Palmer is claiming he will never play for the Bengals again.

Why does this make him an idiot? Two reasons (at least):

1- The organization has lavished him with nearly every one of the eighty million dollars he still has in the bank. [USC boosters supplied the rest. I'm kidding. I think.] Treat the organization with some class.

2- This destroys a lot of his trade value. Assuming the Bengals hold strong with their demand of receiving a fair haul, this makes it harder for the team to trade him.

Carson - I don't have a big problem with you asking for a trade, but keep your mouth shut if you want out that badly.

If You Have The Money, Why Not?

This also could be the most normal thing he's done in 15 years.

Full story here.

Predicting the MLB Standings, Awards, and Postseason Results

In an effort to beat the "experts" to the punch, here are my predictions for 2011.




Boston 97-65
*New York 90-72
Tampa Bay 88-74
Toronto 78-84
Baltimore 74-88


Chicago 92-70
Detroit 89-73
Minnesota 88-74
Cleveland 63-99
Kansas City 55-107


Texas 90-72
Oakland 84-78
Los Angeles 81-81
Seattle 68-94



Philadelphia 91-71
Atlanta 89-73
Florida 84-78
New York 76-86
Washington 72-90


Milwaukee 88-74
Cincinnati 86-76
Chicago 84-78
St. Louis 82-80
Houston 66-96
Pittsburgh 65-97


Colorado 91-71
*San Francisco 90-72
Los Angeles 84-78
San Diego 75-87
Arizona 70-92

* = Wildcard


AL MVP: Adrian Beltre, Rangers
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

AL Cy Young: John Danks, White Sox
NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson, Marlins

AL Rookie: Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
NL Rookie: Freddie Freeman, Braves


Boston over Texas; Chicago over New York; Colorado over Milwaukee; Philadelphia over San Francisco

Chicago over Boston; Colorado over Philadelphia

Chicago White Sox over Colorado Rockies