Archive for February 2nd, 2011

Wednesday: 02.2.2011

Daily Dose: February 2nd

I woke up this morning to something you don’t often (ever?) see in Austin, TX: rolling blackouts.  It’s Coldpocalypse  2011 here in Central Texas and it sucks.  No, it’s not as bad as the feet of snow being dumped on the Midwest and Northeast, but it’s all about context.  I don’t live in those places for a reason.  I hate cold weather and so 15 degrees with a wind chill of 0 is my own personal winter hell.  Oh for those who don’t know, I grew up in Detroit where obviously I went through plenty of blistering winters.  The fact is I lived there from 0-14 and you just don’t have the same disdain for inclement weather at that age that you do as an adult.

I can’t fathom how anyone would rather be cold than hot.  Give me 100 any day of the week over 40, much less teens.  Sure, sometimes the sweltering heat can be annoying, but it doesn’t instantly put me in a bad mood like freezing cold.  I think heatwaves can cause rolling blackouts, too, but since I have never experienced them in the summer, I will forever associate them with awful cold weather, increasing my utter disdain for winter temperatures.

OK, enough of my frozen tears as I’m sure plenty of you reading this have 9 ThermaCare wraps on your back to alleviate the uncontrollable pain sustained shoveling 23 inches of snow out of your driveway.  Time for the Daily Dose.

One of my favorite articles every winter is the List of 12 by Cory Schwartz (@schwartzstops) from MLB Network’s Fantasy 411 TV show and podcast.  Schwartz developed the list years ago (the original iteration had 12 guys if you can believe that) as a way of identifying potential breakouts in the upcoming fantasy season.  It’s not as simple as being on it makes you a breakout candidate, which is why Schwartz analyzes each of the 15 arms on this year’s list.  There are some very enticing names on the list including Jason Hammel and Shaun Marcum.  I’m worried that Marcum’s offseason trade to Milwaukee may raise his profile a bit when he would otherwise be an overlooked gem.

I swear I’m not a Baseball Prospectus fanboy.  You’re going to have to trust me on that, but I could understand how it might look that way with so many of their links popping up in the first two editions of the Daily Dose.  It was quite fitting on that on National Signing Day, they unveiled a talent-laden recruiting class of their own.  If you’re not already a subscriber, today should be your impetus.

Obviously there is a lot of great free content out there, but your money would be well invested in a BP subscription.  Congrats to entire new group of writers over there, but specifically my good friend Jason Collette (@jasoncollette), who I have known for years and Sky Kalkman (@Sky_Kalkman), who I’ve known virtually for some time as we are both  members of the Rotojunkie message.

One of the debuts was from Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) who took the devil’s advocate approach to prospects by looking at what could go wrong in 2011.  He looked at five Kansas City Royals prospects first.  The Royals are widely regarded as the best system in baseball right now and Parks looked at the five best in their organization, so he was getting at the best of the best and making sure you don’t get too caught up in the hype and understand that it might not pan out as planned right away.

It’s one thing to be a pretty face.  It’s quite another to be a very pretty girl who also happens to be absolutely hilarious and that’s what ESPN’s Michelle Beadle (@ESPN_Michelle) pulls off regularly.  Most recently it was in this excellent Super Bowl Ad video.  Lots of girls are pretty, Michelle is attractive because she seems to offer much more than her looks.  Oh yeah, she’s also from Texas and her birthday is just a day before mine (Oct. 23rd).

Speaking of pretty girls, AskMen has released their Top 99 Women of 2011 and Mint.com does a great job breaking down the list in a series of interesting ways.   I definitely don’t agree with their #1, Blake Lively.  She’s definitely pretty, but not #1 pretty.  Scarlett Johansson remains my #1 with my #2 matching AskMen’s, Mila Kunis.  I was happy to see that brunettes overwhelmingly dominated the list proving what I’ve known for some time: they are just better than blondes.  I’m glad to see they wedged Emma Stone in there with her strawberry blonde/reddish hair as opposed to her natural blonde look which doesn’t look natural (or good) at all.  I couldn’t help but laugh when they listed someone named Whitney Port as a notably absent “A-Lister”.  I thought A-Listers were people that everyone knew?  I had to Google this no-talent hack to find out exactly why I had no clue who she was: she’s an MTV “reality” person.  Who are your favorites on the list?  Any major snubs in your opinion?

I have long detested “reality” TV if for no other reason than the completely idiotic name.  It couldn’t possibly be less real if it tried yet this name has inexplicably stuck.  I was thrilled to see the czar of this genre, Mark Burnett, agree with my sentiment recently:

Muttered the man seated behind me: “Um, it’s a reality show.”

No it’s not! says Burnett. “I hate the word ‘reality.’ I think it’s just a made-up word by journalists. What the hell has it got to do with reality? Reality is me standing here right now. Let’s face it: None of the shows are reality. They’re not really marooned on the island in Survivor. [laughter] But the feeling’s real. They’re not really applying for a job with Donald Trump. I mean, who would?” [more laughter]

IMDB.com released part one of a four-part documentary on the making of The Social Network.  I love behind the scenes looks into things so I was really interested in this documentary especially because I really enjoyed the movie back in October.  My only real problem is that for some reason Rooney Mara, the girl who played Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend in the opening scene, is being getting so much attention for her innocuous scene.

I’m so sick and tired of hearing how great she was in her 9 seconds of screen time.  I was surprised she wasn’t up for Best Actress in the Oscars after hearing everyone talk about it.  I’m sure most of it is just to build hype for her in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but it didn’t make the gushing any less nauseating.  She didn’t steal her scene let alone the movie.  It was standard Sorkin dialogue that she executed well enough, but the hype to performance ratio is off-the-charts.

Podcast Recommendation: First off, I feel like not enough people listen to podcasts.  They are excellent.  They are a much better version of sports radio (mainly because there are no commercials).  Whether you’re new to podcasts are a savvy veteran, you have to subscribe to The Jonah Keri Podcast.  I dare you not to get the theme song stuck in your head after hearing it once, but beyond that it’s just a brilliantly done show.  He gets amazing guests including writers, announcers, bloggers, ballplayers and other podcasters and while most are sports-centric, he isn’t just focused on one sport.  He did a Hall of Fame week back in January where he did five days of shows including ones with Tim Raines and Bert Blyleven.  Keri has put together arguably the best podcast going and yet it’s all of 21 episodes old.

As I noted yesterday, I’m a 2K sports guy.  Of course, since I have an Xbox360, it isn’t 100% by choice, but I’ve been happy with their improving baseball series the last few years.  In the interest of equal time, though, here is the MLB 11: The Show trailer

Knowledge Bomb: Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis is likely to fly a bit under the radar in drafts and auctions this year as he not only failed to meet the high power expectations of him (12 HR in 2010), but he fell off significantly from his 2009 figure of 18.  Mix in weak counting stats (60 RBI, 79 R) thanks to an anemic Orioles offense (613 runs, 27th in MLB) and it was a tough season for the 26-year old.  But don’t forget his primary category where he counted to be a high impact producer: batting average.  Markakis hasn’t hit below .291 in any of his five seasons and delivered 629 at-bats of .297 goodness last year.

If you replace 550-600 ABs of a fantasy team’s batting average with Markakis, it is worth three batting average points.  That may not sound like a lot, but when you’re talking about one guy impacting a 6500 at-bat sample by three points, it is significant.  Replacing Mark Teixeira, who had an atypical batting average year in 2010, with Markakis would have been worth four batting average points.

When you are looking to build your batting average, the high volume of at-bats is just important as the average itself.  In the last three years only Markakis and Ichiro Suzuki have managed a .290 or better average in 595 or more at-bats.  You don’t have to necessarily build for batting average when taking one of these guys, they can be your insurance policy to roster a low-average, high-power type like Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds or Carlos Pena who all come at a bit cheaper because of their unappealing batting averages.

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