In case you were busy living on easy street wait — OH, I FORGOT ABOUT MY TAXES — here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The Boston Red Sox rode a seven-run second inning to cruise to a 7-2 win over the host Cleveland Indians. Red Sox starter Felix Doubront, who got the win after throwing five solid innings, said, "With everything that happened yesterday, I was just out there pitching for the name on the front of the jersey today, not on the back. Which really helped, because even I have trouble pronouncing my last name. It's Doo-Braunt, by the way I think. I'm pretty sure. Like 99 percent. Don't hold me to that until I call my ma, though."
Veteran starter Dan Haren gave up seven runs in 4⅓ innings as the Washington Nationals fell to the Miami Marlins, 8-2. After the game, a shell-shocked Haren said, "I gave up a home run today to Adeiny Hechavarria. I got shelled by the Miami Marlins. Sometimes it's hard to know when it's over. This is not one of those times." He then announced the immediate opening of Haren Buick, Haren Chevrolet, and Haren Kia/Hyundai, which he hoped would become the Southern California destination for peoples' Buick, Chevrolet, Kia, and Hyundai needs.
Fantasy baseball ain't what it used to be. Back in the day, you would have maybe one or two people in your league who did any research beyond glancing at last year's Triple Crown stats and buying a couple of magazines. Any knowledge above and beyond that level and you were a virtual lock to finish in the money and maybe get labeled a witch for your prognostication skills.
That's history now. Even the biggest Luddite in your league can fake his way through a conversation about new-age stats. The key is to wield those advanced numbers, then combine them with other factors — age, health, team, competition, park effects, and dozens of other considerations — to produce usable intel you can take to the draft table.
One of the easiest ways to find a gap between last year's fantasy stats and this year's expected results is to scrutinize a pitcher's Fielding Independent Pitching. FIP seeks to strip out events over which a pitcher has little to no control, and focus on his core skills, especially strikeout and walk rate. (You can read a longer-form primer on defense-independent stats here.)
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The Wisconsin Badgers hit 14 of their 27 3-point attempts, but it wasn't enough to hold off the efficient Syracuse Orange, who advanced to the Elite Eight with a 64-63 win. Fans of the Badgers' plodding style were heartened to see their team finish the season by running the stall offense while trailing by three with a minute left, and then stalling again on the last possession before Jordan Taylor was forced to throw up a low-percentage 3. Reporters asked Bo Ryan about the curious strategy, but he spoke so slowly that they were unable to transcribe his words, and then custodians threw everyone out of the building because it was 3 a.m.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
The man who collected Ryan Braun's urine sample last fall said he followed the same protocol he had with hundreds of previous samples. "Okay, I'll admit it," he said, grinning, "I took a little sip. But come on, man, it's Ryan friggin' Braun! The MVP! You'd have done the same thing."
Along with a broken nose, Kobe Bryant sustained a concussion when Dwyane Wade elbowed him at the All-Star game. Wade sent his apologies, saying, "I never wanted that kind of outcome." He then took out a crumpled piece of paper labeled "The Kobe Project," crossed 'head' from the top of the list, and stared longingly at the next item, "left kidney."
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a truck carrying 200 gallons of jet kerosene at the Daytona 500 yesterday, causing a fiery explosion and sending the race into red flag conditions. Montoya walked away unscathed, and Matt Kenseth eventually won the race in the early morning hours on Tuesday. This is the seventh jet-fuel explosion Montoya has set off in the past three months, to the point that NASCAR officials are sort of wondering whether this is his "new thing." "If it is," said NASCAR president Mike Helton, "we'll take it over his 'old thing,' which was painting pictures of me in lewd pornographic scenarios on the side of his car."
Life is filled with nuance and compromise. Luckily, Kevin Wildes has sorted through it all for our feature, Winners and Losers.
I’m a Red Sox fan, and I was a little happy when they lost.
That shouldn’t make any sense. It only makes sense because deep down in a New Englander’s gut, right next to the pancreas, lies a fondness for losing.
It's not something I'm necessarily proud of, but I'll admit it is there. (Also in this category: My Dukakis tattoo.) I don’t know why it's there. Maybe it's nostalgia from when I was a kid and my favorite teams were horrible. Maybe it's because heartbreaking losses are the dips you need on the emotional log flume that makes sports fun. Maybe it’s a government implant.
Whatever the reason, when I sat down to write this blog post I thought: "Let me see what other New England-centric things I’m supposed to hate but I secretly love." So without further adieu …
After writing a running diary of the biggest September collapse in baseball history, I woke up Thursday morning, talked to some friends, e-mailed some more friends, tried to digest what happened and ultimately realized that I needed to call my buddy JackO. Yes, he's a die-hard Yankees fan but if the roles were reversed, I'd want him to do the podcast with me, right? So it was only fair. We spent the next 45 minutes rehashing last night's games, wondering if the Yankees are the new 1919 White Sox for the way they threw last night's game, figuring out if Terry Francona should be fired, debating how the Red Sox will handle the offseason, asking if Theo Epstein should flee for the Cubs, then leaving a little extra time to discuss the 2011 playoffs and whether Detroit's sports renaissance scares Johnny at all. I tried to remain as level-headed as possible. It was a cathartic phone call. I feel better. OK, not really.
Boy, I am happy to have two professional sports in full swing again. On today's BS Report, we called in the NFL Network's Michael Lombardi to discuss what we learned from last night's entertaining Saints-Packers game — not just about those two teams, but if there were any post-lockout patterns from that game that might be applied to the rest of the Week 1 matchups. (The answer, in case you're wondering: Yes.) We also discussed Peyton Manning's injury, its ramifications on the Colts and the AFC South, whether the Colts should just shut him down and whether they will be the league's worst team. From there, I called my buddy JackO (a die-hard Yankees fan) and discussed the remote chance that the Red Sox are about to commit the single biggest September choke in modern baseball history, the AL MVP race and the question, "Who's the most overrated guy on the Yankees and Red Sox?" From there, I pooped in my pants and hung up after realizing that John Lackey, Andrew Miller, Tim Wakefield and some dude named "Weiland" are all starting huge games for the Red Sox within the next week.