MLB Clubs Undermine Own Chances at Title

by Moonlight Graham

In 2003, in an attempt to regenerate fan interest just a year after a lack of available pitchers forced MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to declare the All Star Game a tie, Baseball’s hierarchy decreed that the Mid-Summer Classic would now determine home field advantage in the World Series. It wasn’t already bad enough that the rosters were watered down by the requirement that each team, no matter how bad, must be represented; now, a player from a second division club could have a hand in deciding the outcome of the sport’s premier event months in advance.

While the move was and is opposed by many, I never really had a problem with it.  Not because I agree with the concept; it’s completely ridiculous to think I’m staying up that late to watch Garrett Jones of the Pittsburgh Pirates face Kansas City Royals’ closer Joakim Soria because I’d like the Mets to have home field if they get that far.  However, because the old system of alternating the privilege was also completely without merit, I figured, “Who cares?”  Until I realized that the new policy actually gives mindless fans the opportunity to hurt their team’s shot at a championship; often at the prompting of it’s own front office. We’ve all been to the ballpark in the early part of the season and heard the huge pitch to vote for the hometown boys.  Actually, you don’t even have to attend a game anymore, as on-line balloting has given everyone a voice.  “Send Joe Blow to Los Angeles for the All Star Game”, blare the ads.  “Forget the stats, vote for our guys!”  On the surface, a nice marketing strategy, but one that could prove fatal to a championship run.  Continue reading »

by Eddie Mayrose

NBA Finals Dilemma

It seemed like such a simple choice.  As the NBA Finals began, I stood firmly behind the Boston Celtics as two of my favorite players, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett led Doc Rivers’ squad into another Finals matchup with the Lakers.  That Los Angeles features both Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, a pair of NBA figures for whom I’ve never had any tolerance, made the decision to back the boys from Beantown all the easier.  Until I realized, however, that Nate Robinson, longtime headcase acquired in mid-season from the Knicks, would garner a championship ring should the Celtics triumph. Ouch. Now I’m left to pull for the impossible during tonight’s Game 7.  Can both teams lose? Continue reading »

by Eddie Mayrose

St. John’s Basketball Hires (Settles For?) Steve Lavin

Don’t know if there’s a better indication of how far the St. John’s basketball program has fallen than the difficulty the powers that be had in signing a new head coach.  ESPN analyst and former UCLA head man, Steve Lavin, accepted the job after the Johnnies were rebuffed by Florida’s Billy Donovan and Paul Hewitt of Georgia Tech.  In addition, Fran McCaffrey, who led Siena to the top of the MAAC during his tenure, and Boston College head man Al Skinner were brought in for interviews and may or may not have been offered the job.  That Lavin is, at best, the Red Storm’s third choice, and might actually be the fifth, speaks volumes to the current irrelevance of what was once a national power.  While Lavin has his work cut out for him, he does have a significant resource of talent in his own backyard.  Armed with four returning senior starters and eight scholarships, he may actually be able to effect a significant turnaround in very short order if he can tap into the prep talent in New York City; something at which his two predecessors failed miserably.  It’s been too long since the Johnnies were at the top of the Big East and a viable threat in the NCAA tournament.  Lavin has an opportunity to be a hero to all of the Johnnie faithful longing to, once again, be a part of March Madness.  Here’s hoping he delivers. Continue reading »

by Moonlight Graham

The Case for Albert Pujols

In New York, Carlos Delgado has become the feel good story of the fantasy baseball season, riding a hot streak through the second half and leading the Mets to the top of the NL east. His 33 HR and 100 RBI are numbers that were not only deemed unreachable at the beginning of the season but seemed just as impossible not two months ago. His resurrection has prompted many conversations about the possibility of the big first baseman taking home MVP honors at the end of the year. While there are some reasons for Delgado to warrant consideration, it is not entirely clear that he is even the Mets’ MVP let alone the league’s. Many will point to Jose Reyes or David Wright as the best the Mets have to offer. Regardless, any conversation regarding the NL MVP should begin and end with Albert Pujols.

The St. Louis first sacker came into the season having already acknowledged that he would have to undergo elbow surgery. Not wanting to miss any time, he vowed to play for as long as he could stand the pain. This revelation caused him to drop out of the first round of many Fantasy drafts. The Moonlight Fantasy preview advised against using a top ten pick on him. Many also wondered why he would postpone surgery during what was to be a down year for the Cards. Albert has made fools of us all.

Heading into this week, Pujols had a .360 BA and an impossible .466 OBP. His 32 HR and 95 RBI are very impressive but not as eye popping as his DiMaggio-like K total of just 48. On top of everything else, despite losing three of their top 5 starters and their closer, the Cardinals have been able to stay in playoff contention throughout the year.

Anything can happen, as evidenced by last year’s travesty that saw Jimmy Rollins get the award over the more deserving Matt Holliday, but if Delgado beats Pujols, the voting system should be changed.

RISING

Adam Dunn has been gotten some starts at 1B for the D’Backs and may qualify there in your fantasy league. He has been hot of late with a terrific OBP. Bronson Arroyo was recently named NL Player of the Week and is a free agent in many leagues.

FALLING

Brandon Webb has failed in three straight attempts to gain his 20th win. The Arizona ace may be feeling the effects of a long season.

GRAB BAG

3B Dallas McPherson was called up to the Marlins after belting 42 HR at AAA Albequerque and could provide a late power boost.

DROP ZONE

Jeff Kent underwent knee arthroscopic knee surgery last week and could return to the Dodgers just before the playoffs; too late to help Fantasy owners.

SICK BAY

Cubs’ starters Rich Harden and Carlos Zambrano have been shut down due to shoulder ailments. Cleveland DH Travis Hafner returns this week, more so the Indians can evaluate his progress than to contribute. His shoulder is still not 100% so, don’t expect any power. Billy Wagner’s season appears over as elbow problems persist.

fantasy baseball season, fantasy league, fantasy drafts, Fantasy owners, Fantasy preview

By Moonlight Graham

Fantasy baseball standings: Details, Details

The first week of September usually finds only three or four fantasy baseball teams in contention.  Many of the also-rans have long since turned their attention to fantasy football, leaving all but a few scrambling for that extra point or two that could make the difference between second place and a fantasy baseball league title.  One way that you can pick up an easy point or two might be to stay on top of the aforementioned fantasy owners at the bottom of the standings.  Make sure they keep their fantasy baseball rosters current.  Even though they may have fallen out of the race long ago, they still have a bearing on the way things finish.  For instance, the eighth place team in your league might be trailing the leader by just two SB.  It then becomes incumbent upon him to replace an injured base stealer.  Unfortunately, owners buried in the standings sometimes look to keep their transaction totals down in order to save money and end up adversely affecting those in the title chase.  There is absolutely nothing more frustrating then watching a rival get a free point due to another’s negligence.

Any other miniscule point gains are garnered by old fashioned attention to detail.  Keep a watchful eye on MLB September callups, especially those made by rebuilding teams like the A’s , Giants and Nationals; all of whom may take a look at minor leaguers who could fit into their 2009 plans.

RISING

One player who jumps out as one who could be immediately helpful in the SB category is Oakland OF Najeh Davis who has already accumulated 24 SB in just 165 AB.  He registered his first 4 hit game last weekend and looks like he’ll get regular playing time throughout the rest of the season.  After spending much of the last two seasons unhappy with his role, Brett Myers has turned in three straight dominating performances for the Phils.  While he has struggled mightily for most of the year, don’t forget that he has been a 200+ K pitcher in the past.  Mark DeRosa is enjoying a career season with the Cubs and has been hot of late, recently homering in four straight games.  Raul Ibanez is staging his annual hot September in Seattle as he and Adrian Beltre seem to be the only M’s not playing out the string.

FALLING

Tigers’ 3B Carlos Guillen sat out a few games last week to rest a sore back that has been troubling him all year.  He has a mere 10 HR and only 54 RBI while not running at all on the basepaths.  While the Cubs have been marching through the NL Central, someone seems to have misplaced Derek Lee’s power bat.  The big 1B has endured a long and severe power drought.  Brandon Lyon has allowed 10 R in his last 5 1/3 IP.  With the D’Backs in a pennant race and Jon Rauch and Chad Qualls as options, Lyon is a bad outing away from being replaced.

GRAB BAG

The Rockies have chosen to keep Jorge De La Rosa in the rotation after two solid performances.  Brandon Morrow returns to Seattle after being sent down for a conversion to starter.  His outstanding K ratio could give your staff a quick boost.

DROP ZONE

Livan Hernandez has been relegated to the Rockies’ bullpen.  Aaron Heilman has been unable to step forward as the Mets’ closer and will get fewer opportunities as rosters expand.

SICK BAY

- Evan Longoria is targeting an early September return to the Rays’ lineup.  Justin Upton returns this week to the D’Backs roster having K’d 22 times in 51 rehab AB.  Reds’ hurler Johnny Cueto is suffering from elbow soreness and could miss a start.

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