Monday, September 7, 2009

Playoff Time!

As the Major League Baseball season is winding down, my fantasy baseball team is also primed for a deep postseason run. I have officially become what one might call a fantasy baseball addict. I must check my team every day to make sure that every minute detail that might affect the outcome of my week is seen, acknowledged, and acted upon. If I see that one of my reserve pitchers, Kevin Millwood, has a two-start week, I must determine if in those two starts he will be more likely to gather more points than my season's ace, King Felix Hernandez himself, will in his one start against the lowly Baltimore Orioles. King Felix has been my best pitcher throughout the whole season, but will he be better in that one week that I really need some major points? Or will Millwood totally bomb out and make his two starts virtually worthless? You never really know, and it really will be a best guess. However, that's where fantasy managers earn their well-deserved, or sometimes undeserved, reputation for brilliance. There's only so much the raw stats can give you; sometimes you need to take it on instinct. So what if Vladimir Guerrero has had three solid weeks? Sometimes you need to pull rarely utilized yet speedy Nyjer Morgan (and I do know he is injured now; I just dropped him this morning) because you know from some weird instinct that he is going to break out and have a monster week. Of course this instinct is subject to be wrong. Case in point: I traded Ichiro for Carlos Quentin and Scott Richmond. Not one of my finest GM moments, but with no risk, there's no reward. Then sometimes, the risk pays off as when I traded Manny Ramirez about a week before he was suspended 50 games for steroid use; in return I got Carlos Beltran who was putting up All-Star numbers before an injury ruined his season.
So, I guess you can tell that fantasy baseball is essentially luck. Sometimes everything seems to work your way, and sometimes you have that week when nothing you do seems to be able to garner you some desperately desired points that may be enough to give you one more win that would give you that vital playoff seed. Now, my team is in the league semifinal and is looking strong. Behind the power bats of Ryan Howard, Evan Longoria, and Nelson Cruz combined with my ace-heavy staff led by King Felix, Chris Carpenter, Cole Hamels (who I acquired through a nifty deadline deal), and the enigmatic, yet recently phenomenal, Ubaldo Jimenez, we are looking to compete for the championship. But I hope I've proven through this entry that even the best teams have a bad week, and one bad week will ruin the shot and dream of the championship that could have been.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baseball Bargain

When there is a two-for-one sale on Tide laundry detergent at Price Chopper, who doesn't come running? The added incentive of getting more for your money is often more than enough motivation to cause a wave of customers looking to capitalize on the bargain.

We inadvertently got a lot more for our money at the Tampa Bay Rays' game last Tuesday night. In fact, we almost got a two-for-one sale. For those of you who don't remember or for the Red Sox fans who are in denial, I will remind you that Evan Longoria blasted a walk off home run in the bottom of the 13th inning in the early hours of the morning to knock the socks off the Sox 4-2. That would not be the last time in the next week that the Sox would have trouble winning in extra innings...

Now I partially bring up this game because most of New England might still feel pain from this, but I also want to bring up the thrill of an extra inning game. This was the longest game I had ever been to, and I must say that it was one of the most fun games I had ever been to.

We were sitting in the left-field bleachers on the third deck. It has been said that the knowledge of baseball increases inversely with the price of the ticket, and now I definitely believe it. Those fans in the bleachers were there to enjoy the game; they weren't there for the side shows. They weren't giants of industry buying luxury boxes to impress potential investors; they weren't movie stars who sit in their box seats and are constantly discussed by TV announcers. These were simply normal people who love their Rays were there to boo Kevin Youkilis (and as a side note, I was wondering if anyone out there could tell me why Tampa Bay fans boo Youkilis more than big David Ortiz himself?)

But, back to the fans, very few in those bleachers left before Takashi Saito threw that fateful pitch in to Mr. Longoria even as the rest of the stadium emptied into the St. Petersburg night. Like I mentioned in my last entry about Disney World, time was no longer relevant. Just as I felt in Disney when it was two in the morning and I was not tired, this stadium was the same way. The people did not care that it was late at night; they bought their tickets, and they weren't leaving until the game was over. I was into it too! When you feel the pulse of the crowd around you, you no longer feel tired. You know that with this type of extra inning thriller, there is no way you're going home until you see the end of it. You can feel your eardrums vibrating; you can feel your eyes widen as that long fly ball might just stretch over the green, padded walls; you can feel your muscles tighten as Ramon Ramirez loaded the bases with nobody out before promptly retiring three Rays to stop the potential game-winning rally, and all of this happens right after your stomach was in knots because JP Howell loaded the bases in the top of the 10th and needed to be bailed out by a 5-3 double play to end the threat.

This is why I love baseball. Games like this bring you from the top of K2 to Death Valley and back up again. At least for me, there is no way to avoid emotions when it's obvious that this game means so much to the players on the field that they are still hustling even after they've already played more than one game at the highest level in the world. Despite the exhaustion and even pain in some cases, they played on for the simple purpose of getting another win for the organization. People say the players are in it for the money, and I'm sure that is a definite incentive. But I think at the end of the day, each and every one of those players wants to win. You can be paid millions of dollars to play for a bad team, and many players do. However, those are often the same players who come around every July saying they want to be traded to a team that can win a championship.

So, I would say I got a two-for-one deal even though it wasn't quite two complete games. The excitement of it well made up for those five innings. I would say that this game was a better investment than that two-for-one Tide; I buy Gain instead.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The World of Disney

Well, well, Disney World has come and gone and I must say I've never experienced anything like it. Being in a wheelchair, theme parks have never really been the most friendly vacation spots. So, I did not really know what to expect from Disney, but I knew its reputation and everyone has already said that it was a great place for people in wheelchairs.

They were right! It seems as if you almost enter a different world when you walk under the rail road tracks and into the shadow of City Hall where all your favorite characters are waving and dancing to Zip A Dee Doo Da. The accessibility was excellent, but that was not the most amazing part for me. I was amazed at the spell Disney casts over all the mobs that enter daily. All of a sudden, the rest of the world seems to be a different place and Disney becomes its own country. Time does not seem to matter anymore; we were up till two at Magic Kingdom and I honestly did not feel any effects. With all of the stimuli surrounding you, it's impossible to feel anything but the energy pulsing.

Disney is not a thrill park, but everyone seems so excited to be there and even ride rides designed for people much younger than them. Personally, I was thrilled about "it's a small world"! There's something about just being there that puts you in the mood to think you're younger than you really are. Such simple rides are really not that simple to look at the animated figures and how much work it took to program every single one of the little hand movements or voices. The "Hall of Presidents" had an amazing amount of detail as all of our nation's leaders moved and looked at each other when they spoke. None of these rides were intense; I wouldn't have ridden them if they were, but they still had the effect of making me want to be there and get just as excited as everyone else.

This spell of excitement enchanted me and made me wanting to see what would happen next. The magnitude of the park is beyond any I had been to before, and there's no better amusement park to take a wheelchair to. I think that Disney World has captured the secret to success: they have created another world where people can escape from what they have outside and see the world of happiness and fairytale endings.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The First Pitch

Hello, welcome to the Perpetual Blogging Company! My name is Zak and this is my entry into the world of blogging. Typically, I will be writing about any sports topic that seems to be important and interesting to me, but I do have other interests, so you never really know what I might write about. Today, we'll do a little bit of sports.

First off, any Phillies fans out there must be pretty happy lately. We had a great turnout at the All-Star game, and the Flyin' Hawaiian went from last man on the roster to starting centerfielder. On top of this, there were more Phillies active on the roster than any other team in the National League. Now, we've ripped off a winning streak and seem to be taking control of the National League East. Can I hear back to back? (Yes, this is a prediction)

On another note, Blake Griffin has been off to a hot start for the Clippers. Even though it's only summer ball, this double-double machine might be just the thing to get this struggling franchise off the ground floor and maybe to a place where they won't be the odds on favorite to win the top pick in the NBA draft. On the other hand, Griffin might just be another Lamar Odom or Elton Brand who abandoned the Clippers for greener pastures and more green in the bank account. Really though, all that matters right now is that Griffin has brought his A game from the pastures of Oklahoma to the glimmer and shine of Hollywood. Maybe the NBA has found a new generation of big men to follow once Tim Duncan has completed his illustrious career.

So, this is what I'm thinking about today, but who knows what I'll think about next? So, until next time, we'll see what will happen next.