Day 286: Must Win

After the Dodgers went up 3-0 against the Mets, my wife and I decided to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. My wife asked if I was sure if I wanted to go and I said yes.

As we were driving there, the Mets scored a run against Clayton Kershaw and my first thought was, “here we go again.” I also thought about turning the car around, but we were starving and didn’t feel like making dinner.

Thankfully, everything turned out perfect: we shared our favorite dish, Kershaw broke his 7th-inning curse, Jensen saved the game, and the Dodgers get to play Game 5 in L.A.

And as an added bonus, we made it home in time for another hilarious episode of Fresh Off the Boat. I was as pumped up as Kershaw was tonight.

Day 278: First Win

Fantasy Football ... not really.

Fantasy Football … not really.

I can’t believe it’s October and I’m only now gloating posting about my first fantasy football win. Technically, I did win during Week 1 of the season, but that was in my second league. My main league — the one I’ve been in for 16 years — will always be my “A” league and it’s the toughest one I’m in. I’m a two-time champion and narrowly missed my third championship last year.

Last week’s Monday night one-point loss put me at 0-3. Not only has Andrew Luck transformed into Rick Mirer, but three of my players were either Out or Doubtful. Ugh.

Somehow, I managed to win my matchup this week. I’m still in the cellar of my division, but hopefully Luck will find his magic touch again and my roster will get healthy. My patience with Todd Gurley appears to have paid off … although I’m feeling a little silly for paying $34 of my $100 free agent dollars on Matt Jones, even though it was a great bid at the time.

I’d like to think this is the turning point of my season, but we’ll see. I’ve seen too many weird things happen over the years and one of them happened in August: one of our owners had $50 left over after our auction draft and we all gave him grief, joking about how that money wasn’t going to be carried over to next season. Afterwards, he conceded having a bad draft. It was understandable since he’d come straight from work that night to draft his team.

Of course, since he’s the only undefeated team in the league, I’ll be adopting his save-money approach next year.

Day 276: Random Saturday Thoughts

Tastykakes from the freezer are the best!

Tastykakes straight from the freezer are the best.

A few random thoughts on a Saturday night:

  1. Tastykakes: They’re an East Coast treat, but over the years I’ve seen them more frequently in Southern California. My local grocery store was having a 2-for-1 sale and I couldn’t resist the power of the Tastykake.  I LOVE the peanut butter Kandy Kakes, which taste like a Reese’s peanut butter cup in mini-cake form. They’re even better when frozen.
  2. Dodgers: The good news is they won the NL West again and are going to the playoffs. The bad news is long-time organist Nancy Bea Hefley is retiring after this season. I hope the Dodgers don’t get rid of the organist position; as much as I love the snippets of today’s pop music during a game, there’s something very soothing about being at Dodger Stadium and listening to the between-innings notes from the organ.
  3. Jeopardy!: It’s always fun to see a player dominate on my favorite game show and Matt Jackson’s five-show run has been terrific. I liked this first-person account from one of his vanquished opponents.

Day 267: One-Day Genius

fantasy football

I was patting myself on the back yesterday after nabbing free agent running back Matt Jones from my league’s waiver wire. We’re an auction league, so all free agents are up for bid on Tuesday and the results are announced Wednesday.

It’s a much better system than the standard waiver wire priority that most leagues run. Several years ago, my league switched to the auction format for our draft and our free agent acquisitions. I couldn’t be happier since it eliminates a lot of the luck during these two parts of the game.

Standard snake drafts have you at the mercy of a random draw for draft position and the first two rounds are usually predictable. So if you were stuck at the bottom of your draft order year after year, you weren’t going to get an elite running back unless one of your late-round sleepers panned out.

Good luck with that.

Auction drafts give every owner a chance at their favorite players. There are no excuses for not getting a top player. If you want him, pay the highest amount. Simple and effective.

Likewise, the old waiver wire priority system never worked out well. You were at the mercy of the running list of teams; either you were next up to sign a free agent or you weren’t.

Acquiring free agents via auction, though, requires more skill. Again, it’s better than the old priority system because every owner has a shot at signing a player. You either pay enough or you don’t.

The trick with the free agent auction, though, is that it’s a silent bid auction. It can be brutal trying to figure out how much the other owners will pay for a player. Sometimes you’re outbid, other times you overpay.

Matt Jones was the hot prospect after last weekend’s games and in my league, there is no such thing as a player slipping through the cracks. Everybody’s too smart and too informed to let any decent player go unsigned. So it all comes down to who can make that perfect bid.

It looked like I did when I landed Jones for $34, outbidding several owners (the next closest was $30). I talked some trash (an unwritten fantasy football rule) and got ready to see my new player turn around the fortunes of my 0-2 team.

Not only did Jones fumble away a touchdown tonight, he also didn’t even score two points for my team.

That’s fantasy football in a nutshell: one day you’re a genius, the next you’re clueless.

Day 263: Full Day of Football

Amari Cooper's first NFL TD.

Amari Cooper’s first NFL TD.

It’s a good day when three of my favorite football teams play on the same day and all win. Actually, two play football (soccer) and the third plays American football. And there’s a fourth that’s my favorite soccer team (the LA Galaxy), but they weren’t in action today. Clear as mud? Good.

A quick recap:

1. Manchester United. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wake up at 4:45am on a Saturday to catch the Red Devils. Their 8am game fit perfectly into my Sunday sports-viewing schedule, since it would be over just before the NFL games. Just like last week, the story of the match was Man U’s 19-year-old phenom Anthony Martial, who scored two goals in the 3-2 win.

2. FC Barcelona. They started off slowly, but Barca quickly turned their match against Ligante into a rout, 4-1. Messi missed a penalty kick! Of course, he also scored a brace, and Neymar also scored, so it was business as usual for the best team in the world.

3. Oakland Raiders. Their defense is a still a sieve, but credit Coach Jack Del Rio for having his team ready to play today. Last week was utterly dismal: a no-show for the new coach in front of the home fans. So today’s game was a pleasant surprise as the Raiders show heart and played good enough to beat the favored Ravens. I was hyped about Carr, Cooper, and Murray on offense before the season began. After week one, I was ready for another 3-13 year, but hopefully today’s game is a sign of better things to come. I still have my fingers crossed for 8-8, but the defense needs some help.

Day 261: Four for Friday

Love Letter

Love Letter

Four random thoughts on this Friday.

  1. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the board game Pandemic. I’ve played countless solo and group games and I love teaching it to new players. The newest version, Pandemic Legacy, will be released at next month’s Spiel in Essen, Germany. The Dice Tower crew did a spoiler-free review and their enthusiasm was apparent; they’re predicting it will be in the running for game of the year.
  2. I eeked out a narrow (7-6) Love Letter victory against my wife tonight. I’ve said this many times and so have others, but it’s worth repeating: it’s the best $7 I’ve ever spent on a game. Quick, fun, and easy to learn.
  3. I hate to say this, but the Tiger Woods era looks to be over. I don’t doubt his drive and hunger for winning more majors, but his body won’t let him. Shame, too, because the haters will always say he didn’t break Jack’s record. I always say, did they Jack-proof courses for Nicklaus back in his day? No? Well, they did it to Tiger and he still won. When you can still win when the game is being made more difficult, I say you’re the greatest of all time.
  4. I set up my fantasy basketball league, which always throws me off because it’s done a week after the start of the fantasy football season. The NBA and fantasy season doesn’t start until the end of October, but it usually takes a month for us to set a date and iron out all of the details. Plus, it takes me about that long to digest all of the food from our fantasy football draft day’s foodapalooza.

 

Day 256: Raiders vs Bangles

The Bangles, not the Bengals.

The Bangles, not the Bengals.

I settled in for the first Sunday of the NFL/fantasy football season today with the TV on, laptop in hand, and pizza on the way. My wife’s a good sport about being a football widow, but I find myself less fascinated by the games these days anyways, so I’m sure I won’t be doing the morning-till-night NFL shift too often this year.

As much as I enjoy fantasy football, it’s the Oakland Raiders’ continued ineptitude that helps kill my love for the game every week. I actually felt good about this season: youngsters David Carr and Khalil Mack would be joined by Amari Cooper and the Raiders’ climb back to respectability would begin. I wasn’t delusional and thinking a Super Bowl run, of course, but an 8-8 season would be a nice turnaround.

Unfortunately, it was business as usual for the Silver and Black.

The offense was stale, the defense was a sieve, and the cherry on top of the sundae was Carr leaving the game with an injured hand. To play that bad under a new head coach in his debut at home? It proves that the Raiders have a much longer road ahead of them than any of us thought.

I took to Twitter to vent my frustration. The team was playing bad, but color commentator Chris Simms on CBS was annoying me and a lot of other fans with his mispronunciation of Cincinnati’s team name. He said “Bangles” instead of “Bengals” throughout the game.

Maybe it’s just the way he says it, but the already testy Raider fanbase wasn’t going to sit back and let Simms continue with his comments about the “Bangles beating the Raiders.” The snark on the Internet was on full blast, but apparently nobody at CBS checks social media since Simms never corrected himself (which was hilarious because he stopped to note how he was correctly pronouncing Khalil Mack’s first name).

The Raider Nation in cyberspace filled Twitter with jokes about the Bangles, Manic Mondays, and Walking Like An Egyptian. And Simms kept saying it, just adding to the unintentional comedy.

It was the only thing we Raider fans had going for us today. Better to laugh about something than cry about another losing season.

Day 253: New Year, New Teams

Kashyyyk Wookies

Kashyyyk Wookies

For the first time in years, I have more than one fantasy football team. That’s twice the amount of players to follow and stress over. Twice the heartache during the season. Twice the payouts at the end of the year (hopefully).

In honor of Episode VII opening in December, I named my teams the Kashyyyk Wookies and the Tusken Raiders, respectively. I hope the Force is strong in all of my players’ knees and they bring me another championship trophy or two.

Both of my leagues were auction drafts, with slight differences in scoring, waiver wire pickups, etc. The Wookies are in a redraft league and the Raiders are part of a keeper league.

Here are the players I’ll be rooting for and/or cursing this year:

Kashyyyk Wookies:

QB Andrew Luck

RB Adrian Peterson

RB Duke Johnson

WR DeSean Jackson

WR Julian Edelman

TE Dwayne Allen

WR/RB/TE Keenan Allen

Bench: Sammy Watkins, Todd Gurley, Carson Palmer, Charles Sims, Ty Montgomery

Note: I haven’t paid over $1 for a K or DEF in years and have been streaming both positions before it was called streaming. Thus, I’ve left them off my list. 

Tusken Raiders:

QB Drew Brees

RB Mark Ingram

RB Matt Forte

WR Jeremy Maclin

WR Vincent Jackson

TE Rob Gronkowski

WR/TE Keenan Allen

WR/RB John Brown

Bench: LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Mathews, Jordan Cameron, Brian Quick, Pierre Garcon, Carson Palmer, Marvin Jones, Ka’Deem Carey, and Knile Davis.

Day 239: Fantasy Football Draft Day

Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Football.

My favorite holiday of the year (my fantasy football league’s annual draft) is this weekend. Like the other owners in the league, I’m excited and definitely not studying as much as I should. I know Jordy Nelson’s done for the year and Aaron Hernandez is still locked up, but beyond that, I couldn’t tell you what players I’ll be targeting for my team.

I’ll print out a cheat sheet tomorrow and check the NFL’s injury list before our draft begins. It’s what I’ve done for years now and I’ve had some success; last year I dominated the league before falling in the championship game.

Of course, fantasy football stories are about as exciting as bad-beat poker stories or the one-that-got-away fishing tales, so I’ll spare the details of my almost-championship.

The one thing I think about every year is how the league has evolved. Actually, the players more so than the league. We’ve pretty much kept the same scoring system, roster positions, and rules the entire time. There’s a core group of us that includes my brothers and close friends who have been doing this for 16 years.

It’s cool to see how each guy has changed over time. There have been weddings, divorces, babies, and other real-life happenings and it’s nice to know we can always meet up once a year to talk trash about each other’s teams. We’re all basically the same guys we were back in 1999, but I’d like to think we’re all older and wiser.

Well, older, anyways.