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|Sunday, December 12th, 2010|
|The case for Collins
I have just spent nearly two weeks playing 72 games of Collins. I'll spare the details of my performances in the two respective tournaments. Nothing to really write about there, except that I probably will need three years to master the Collins and the intricacies of the game associated with that book. Cramming for three months before one of these events just doesn't work anymore. The rest of the world has caught up to us. I had been away from the international game, and the increase in the overall level of play that I saw was quite impressive. In the 45 round Causeway event, there were no easy games. In the Tournament of Champions that followed, I got my ass kicked. I think Nigel would have won with my tiles just the same. I had a lot of close losses that the well booked and well practiced Collins player would have converted into wins. That being said, it was a tremendous honor to be in that room playing against nine other players who have titles.
Ten years ago, NSA members were asked to vote on the switch to SOWPODS. The vote was pretty one sided, and the status quo remains. At the time, there was more money in OSPD, and the level of play at home was clearly better overall. I wasn't willing to rock the boat on this issue. I clearly preferred SOWPODS, but I knew that this issue had the potential to divide the community. I made a choice to stick with OSPD, and it served me well. Today, the landscape is different. Foreign players are much better now, as I said before. They made me pay for mistakes, and they have expanded well beyond the fish and dish (Peter Morris' term) strategy that is generally an inferior strategy. Michael Tang has worked very hard over the past decade and then some to elevate the scene abroad with his Causeway event. It is an event that is worth going to. I guarantee that you will be amazed at how competitive the games are at that event, and you will be impressed at the effort and personal attention to detail put forth by Michael Tang.
We have all seen the pro/con debates for SOWPODS played out ad nauseam on cgp. It is old and tiresome, no doubt. I will try to bring some fresh and interesting perspective as to why this should replace the game we have at home. I will say that first of all, it is a better game than the one we have here. Second, there is significant benefit to our organization by having a unified book.
Why is it a better game? For one, it is significantly easier to work out of bad racks. There are a lot more escapes. Just knowing the basic ones makes a huge difference. EUOI and EUOUAE are obvious examples. Just having more twos makes for more escapes, also. Not to mention, those extra twos mean that bingos are playable more often. There were a number of times that IWI got me out of jams. I got to play QORMA for 54 points once while knowing that at home, I would have had to exchange. These are basic examples, and they require very little effort to learn.
Look at what QI did for our game. Remember the debate about inclusion of that word? Nowadays, I think most people are grateful for not having to throw it back three times in a game anymore. I'd love to see the debate on cgp if they dared to try to remove it from our lexicon. This is a great example of a word that created a ton of escapes from bad situations. QI had a significant positive impact on how our game is played. I believe that Collins has more of where that came from.
Now consider what it means to have an opponent open with a bingo in OSPD. Most of the time, one will lose those games in OSPD. The opponent will start shutting down the board soon enough. We've all been there, and many of us are reminded often enough by opponents about how lucky we were to draw the opening rack bingo. In Collins, it is much easier to rally after the opponent opens with a bingo. Boards are harder to shut down for a variety of reasons. The average score of a play is higher in Collins, so it only follows that a 72 point opener is more easily overcome, as that 72 point play is not as far removed from the average play as in OSPD. During my Causeway games, I learned this the hard way. I gave away a few games because I tried to protect a lead that in OSPD would have been safe. In Collins, 100 points is not safe. I came back from such a deficit a few times, and my opponents rallied from it a few times as well. The result of this change is that games are much more competitive from the first tile drawn to the last tile played. They are not decided after 5 turns nearly as often. Also consider that blanks aren't quite as important in the international game. Having both blanks doesn't mean quite as much. In OSPD, there is a high correlation between blanks and winning, as we all have been reminded. (This doesn't mean I blame my losses on lack of blanks, because if I didn't do all that I could to maximize my chances, then I have to spend time thinking about what I could have done to maximize my chances.) The correlation is lower in the Collins game. There are few things in this game that are less fun than being hopelessly out of a game after only a few turns. Collins clearly alleviates this problem.
What benefit is a switch to our organization? For one, there will be increased international interest in our scene, and potentially more memberships sold as a result of that interest. Right now, international interest in OSPD is pretty much limited to Thailand, at least when talking about our NSC. We will get a bump in attendance at the NSC if we make the switch. We don't have Causeway type money right now, but it still pays better than a lot of international events. A change will make this a truly global game. Having North America on board would be a huge boost to the international game, also. I think it would be the equivalent of when the rail gauge was standardized in the 19th century. We will likely remain in a rut if we stick with OSPD. The membership hasn't really grown in my lifetime, but it has turned over a decent amount. At home, we are fighting over how to split up a finger pie. The pie will expand if we go to Collins. There might even be more chances at sponsors, because it would give us the chance to solicit outside North America. The chances at that will remain low, but this will improve the potential.
People at home often object to the words in Collins because they don't fit their own perceptions of the English language. The Maori entries are often cited, as are the more archaic entries. I think English has a rich 2000 year history, and Collins does try to capture that much more than OSPD does. English is not limited to the last 200 years at home. It has undergone many changes, whether in England, the places that England colonized, or the internet. Just because we have never seen a particular Collins entry word spoken or written on our soil does not mean that it has no right to be part of a lexicon that represents the English language. I know, this subject of word legitimacy is the one that is cited the most. I know that Collins is not a perfect book, but then neither is ours. The difference is that ours is more provincial. I think it is sad that provincialism carries the day in our organization. It's exactly the way a certain half term governor from Alaska would want it, I'm sure of that. (My straw man argument, and I'm sticking to it, dammit. Those gosh darn elitist bluebloods are trying to change our dictionary and add words that aren't used in the real parts of America... Ironically, refudiate will be added in Collins before it is added at home, though.)
If anything, I consider the word legitimacy to be a red herring. It's what riles people the most in all the cgp threads, it seems. Look, I believe that there should be a vetting process for what gets included, don't get me wrong. At the end of the day, though, it will provide a more enjoyable experience and we will have standardized the rail gauge. We can't lose sight of the big picture. This is not about me wanting to be able to do better in Malaysia or the WSC the next time I go. I am going to make my own effort to learn Collins. I honestly don't care how I do at home anymore. I think this is the ultimate game, and I am going to devote more effort to it. Whether or not we ever switch, this is the direction I intend to pursue. I hope that more players here join me in wanting to switch to a better game that brings the world together instead of a provincial game that isolates us from it.
|Monday, June 8th, 2009|
|More on wine
Lately I've been trying to find more wines off the beaten path. A few that I've enjoyed:
2005 Serendipity syrah from Languedoc. About $11. I'm generally not about syrah, but I sure liked this one, and it's such a great value. Not overdone, not overextracted, and not a 16% ABV fruit bomb that causes Parkerites to speak in tongues.
2006 Azienda Salice Salentino. About $10. This features 90% negroamaro and 10% red malvasia. It reminds me of the Austrian favorite, Zweigelt.
2005 Berco do Infante from Estremedura, Portugal. About $10. This is a blend of Aragonez (better known as Tempranillo, also known as Tinto Roriz in the Douro region) and Castelao (aka Trincadeira Preta). I'm drinking it right now. I'm always partial to the tempranillo grape. I just hate it when producers feel the need to blend it with Bordeaux grapes,though. I wish they'd just believe in the native grapes enough to let them shine.
Sorry, no elaborate tasting notes from me. Do you really want to know about hints of oak and vanilla, along with berries and currants? And mouthfeel, too? I hate reading tasting notes. They tell me nothing, and they're often boring and pretentious. Just tell me what food I should pair it with, and if it's worth the price on the bottle.
If I am eating a heavy meal, I often stick with a Malbec from Argentina. If I am eating Italian with a red sauce, then I drink a Barbera or a Chianti. If I am eating spicy Mexican food, then I love a Mencia from Spain. If I am eating spicy Asian, then a riesling works pretty well. As for seafood in general, that's still a work in progress for me. I like Chenin Blanc, Verdejo, and also Viognier; probably of those three I'd choose Verdejo.
Oh, I finally found a Chardonnay that I liked. It's a $20 bottle from the Macon Villages area of Burgundy. Anything's possible, apparently. If they offer me a free taste, I am going to give it a shot, and if I like it, I just might buy a bottle of it.
|Monday, November 10th, 2008|
|10 games or more
I notice that a lot of people are posting their head to head records against opponents they've played at least 10 times in tourneys. I won't post my whole list, but I'll give my sub-500 list, starting with the worst record first:
Nigel Richards 2-9
Joe Weinikie 3-7
Tim Adamson 5-7
Joe Edley 15-18-2
The records only seem to go back to 1992. I think my record against Edley was better pre-1992, and my record against Weinikie was even worse. That guy has totally owned me my entire career, I think. He even pasted me in Chicago in 1998. Some others on the whole list at cross-tables.com, I know my record would have been worse pre-1992, especially Lester or Felt.
|Monday, September 22nd, 2008|
My 39th birthday has passed. We spent the evening at a restaurant called Otom, which is the sister restaurant of Moto. Moto is owned by Homaro Cantu, who beat Morimoto on an episode of Iron Chef. That was a fun episode to watch, and I don't even cook. Otom is run by his protege, and is significantly cheaper. Anyway, the idea is to create a dish that looks like something familiar. I had an appetizer that looked like cereal and had the texture of cereal, but it wasn't cereal. Basically, they fried some pasta shells (conchigli in this case) and poured a milk stout cheese sauce over it. It was very bizarre, but fun. My entree was a deep fried ravioli with powdered olive oil and stuffed with short rib. It looked like beignets. Anyway, it was very creative. I can't imagine what goes into making these creations. It's something to try out, for sure. Bonus points for the cava (a Spanish sparkling wine that further proved that champagne is vastly overrated) and also for a red that was a blend of pinot noir and grenache.
Afterwards, we came home and had some of the delicious cake that my wife made for me. It was a chocolate cake with fleur de sel caramel filling, and it was a recipe from Vanilla Bakeshop in Santa Monica. Amazing creation, I must say.
|Monday, September 8th, 2008|
I've gotten into wine somewhat over the past few years. And I have to say I'm really surprised at what is and isn't popular. Last night, we tried a new place. The wine the place was pushing was a merlot/cabernet blend from Chile. I inquire as to what else they have besides this unoriginal bottle. I am told cabernets, merlots, and chardonnays. Does a wine list get any more boring than that? Wow, three of the most overrated wines in the history of mankind. Oh, they do have a malbec and a pinot grigio. (Malbec can be good with the right dish, though it's a disaster if paired wrongly.) But this list is still not interesting. (I settle for the sangria they make, but I guess I am reminded that I don't have much of an opinion of sangria either way.) I'm thinking that most people's wine vocabulary consists of chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir, pinot grigio, zinfandel, and syrah (or shiraz). Basically anything that is widely grown in Napa, the most overrated wine region in the world. But wait, let's see how this same grape works in another part of the world. Exciting.
Whenever I go to a restaurant, it is my goal to avoid anything that is on the list of usuals, and to order a kind of wine that I've never tried before. I have usually found the experience to be more than I expected. Some good ones I've run across recently are viognier, pinot blanc, bonarda, gamay, barbera, mencia ,and ribolla gialla (I mentioned some of these in the Vegas post). There are a lot of good wines outside the overrated regions, also. Portugal has some outstanding wines that use native grapes not seen in other parts of the world. Vinho verde is a fun white wine. The Dao region of Portugal has some great reds. I had this one bottle from a producer named Grilos, and it was one of the best I ever had. I love port wine, but that's another topic entirely. Spain has mencia as I mentioned before, and blending tempranillo and garnacha is a winner, also. It is infinitely more interesting to try a native variety than to see what a grape tastes like in Australia in comparison to California, France, or Chile.
One never has to spend a fortune on this stuff, either. The most I ever spent on a bottle was $20 on a bonarda, but only because it was the only bottle I could find. I just found a different one for $10, recently, though. I got a good bottle of vinho verde at Trader Joe's for $4, also. There will be no $50 bottles of cabernet from California around here, that's for sure.
|Wednesday, August 27th, 2008|
Man I love visiting New York. That town has always been a part of my life. As a kid, I used to visit my grandmother on the Upper West Side every summer. I would go to places like the Museum of Natural History and the Bronx Zoo, as well as other places like the Empire State Building, Bloomingdales, Macy's, Coney Island, and yes, the World Trade Center. And I would visit my relatives that were scattered everywhere around there. An aunt in Brooklyn, cousins in Hastings-on-Hudson, great aunt and her family in Port Washington, and yet more cousins out in Massapequa. It was a different New York back then. There were so many places that were off limits back then. Subways were all covered in graffiti. I remember being in a cab in Little Italy and someone in the car ahead of us was getting mugged at the red light.
Nowadays, a lot is different. It's a much safer place. It is still a place that showcases the melting pot. The culture there is still second to none. And the food, it can't be beat. And it is still expensive as hell. I felt like I was peeling off a $20 bill every five minutes when I was there. If we stayed another week, I don't know if I could have gotten back home. My mom put it best when she said that New York has the best and the worst of everything.
We went back to Bobby Flay's Bar Americain for dinner on Saturday. What is amazing about Bobby Flay is that he can use ingredients that I hate and I'll love the creation. People have all these opinions about what makes a great chef, but to me, it has to be the ultimate compliment to say that about a chef.
The reason we went was for Ira Freehof's Big Apple Showdown at his Comfort Diner in Chelsea. For me, it is likely my last tourney for awhile, as I begin my MBA program next week. I was generally happy with how I played. Nearly every game I played was a hard fought game. It had to be one of the lowest spread totals I have ever had for an event that I won. I was 12-4, but only +315. I'm not sure what to make of that record. In my past experience a low spread has often been a red flag of sorts. It is also my experience that this is a crazy game, and a lot of things can happen in a 16 game sample. I would have to look more closely to figure out which of those is more correct here.
Anybody who has a chance to play in one of Ira's tourneys really should jump at the chance to do so. It's one hell of an experience. And the pear and gorgonzola salad is outstanding. I wanted to try some of the more adventurous breakfast items, but I also know that bacon and eggs has usually served me well. The creative French toast dish will have to wait for a time when I don't have anything on the line in a tourney. (I learned early on not to eat French toast before playing, as much as I enjoy it.) It's funny that this tourney started as an April Fool's joke post on CGP. Sometimes, great ideas have very unlikely geneses.
Afterwards, on Sunday, we headed to Alfama, a Portugese restaurant on the corner of Hudson and Perry. I am willing to bet that there is better somewhere in Newark, where there is a sizable Portugese community. I have to say that this was pretty damn good, though. We went to Portugal last year for a vacation, and it was fun reconnecting with the food and drink we remembered enjoying. My wife remembered what pastries we had before, and we had them again that night. The port list is so extensive there, also. And my wife also had a glass of amarguinha, which is a Portugese version of amaretto. We wanted to try the ginja (a Portugese cherry liqueur), but decided that we had had enough drinks for the night already. We can't get this experience in Chicago, that's for sure. Whenever we're elsewhere, we try to have something good that we can't easily have in Chicago.
|Monday, August 11th, 2008|
|Vegas, the Food Experience. Who Knew?
We just got back from Vegas last night. I can't believe how big Caesar's has gotten. I think it covers a square mile now. It is so over the top there now. We stayed at Bally's. The room was nothing to write home about (though the upgrade in the new tower is much better, but we didn't do it this time). It's a great location, at the very least. I lost my allotted $200 at the blackjack tables with very little effort. But who cares about all that? The real reason to go there for us is for the food. There are a lot of cool places to eat there. Wendy knows who all the players are, and where to go for a good meal. I just go along for the ride. Not that I mind, of course.
Day 1 - We arrived early in the afternoon. After checking in, we go over to Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill for lunch. I'll never forget the dinner we had there two years ago. Lunch is a bit different, and I'm not in the mood for the whole production, so I order the burger. It was a good burger, but not omg wow. Fries were excellent, though. Wendy had a chile relleno. Anybody who knows anything about Bobby Flay knows that he can't possibly screw that one up. I tasted a little of it and the added ingredients were good. I'm not a big relleno fan otherwise.
That night we went out to Olives (Todd English's restaurant, the original being in Boston) at the Bellagio. That was an outstanding meal. The flatbread with prosciutto and figs is to die for. I had a pasta with a butternut squash filling that was also good. Next time, we will split a pasta dish there, becuase it was so heavy for just one person. Dessert was a tea infused creme brulee with lemon scones. That creation was so Iron Chef, with its interpretation of tea with scones. The wine we had was a Spanish one made from the mencia grape. It was a spicy wine, and went well with the dinner. I always keep an eye out for wines that aren't California standards, as those wines usually are not ones I like so much, or I am kind of tired of them if I liked them in the first place.
Day 2 - We start with a late breakfast at Le Bouchon at the Venetian. This restaurant is run by the same guy that runs French Laundry in Napa. Getting a breakfast here costs around the same as a breakfast at a crappy casino coffee shop. It makes me wonder why anybody would eat at the casino coffee shop. I had the signature french toast dish. Wow.
Dinner was at Mario Batali's Enoteca San Marco, also at the Venetian. I had a veal meatball, which was okay. The nectarine salad was excellent. The homemade gelato desert was outstanding. I think one of the flavors was called mocha porter. I had no idea that was a combo, but it worked. The wine was most interesting. It was from Slovenia, grown by the Italian border. The grape was ribolla gialla. The wine was made the same way the ancient Greeks and Romans would have made it. There was no filtering. The color was orange, which is not a color I see in wine very often.
Day 3 - Today we have a late breakfast buffet at Wynn's. The buffet had decent food, but nothing that made the wait worthwhile. I'm going to say this about Wynn's in general. It is overrated, overpriced, and so fucking hideous. I think they're trying to prove that some inverse relationship exists between money and taste.
Dinner was at Rao's, at Caesar's. This is the same restaurant in NYC that is the most impossible reservation. It is easier at Caesar's, to say the least. Appetizer was ravioli in a chicken broth, something I remember trying and liking long ago. I still like it, but I think we should have gotten the cheese sticks instead, as that was the appetizer that gets raved about the most. I had the veal parm for my entree. I paid up for it, but it was excellent. The waitress said she should have had the stopwatch out for that one. Wine was a barbera from the d'Alba region. It went perfectly with the marinara. Dessert was a chocolate/peanut butter creation, and it was excellent. Great meal, all told.
Day 4 - Back to Bouchon for a late breakfast. This time I had sourdough waffles with fresh strawberries and candied walnuts. It also came with a syrup that had something good in it, though we couldn't place it. This was the standout on the menu, from what I could tell. Wendy had the quiche, and commented on how they perfected the crust, and that most places don't do that part nearly as well.
We went to BLT Burger at the Mirage for dinner. The BLT stands for a renowned French chef's initials. The burger and fries were certainly good, and certainly better than the burger and fries one could get at the crappy casino coffee shop for around the same price. What set this place apart was the shakes. I had a berry shake, and it was out of this world.
Day 5 - The last day. We hurry over to Le Bouchon again, for one last breakfast before we have to get to the airport. I had the croque madame this time, with pomme frites. Another great dish. My wife had the waffles this time.
Despite eating all that food, I think I did lose a few pounds because we walked so damn much there. I think we logged about 5 miles a day on foot. Plus, we swam each afternoon. Makes me appreciate eating like that even more.
|Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007|
In the roto league, I finished second out of thirteen teams. I was happy with that, considering how horrible my start was in both leagues. In the head to head league, I could do no better than to finish sixth out of ten teams. The first month proved to be absolutely devastating. I have to say that FBB is incredibly addicting.
Baltimore as a great time this weekend. It marked the first time there was corporate sponsorhip of a tournament by a company besides Hasbro, so this was definitely a most historical event. I have no idea if this is a model that can be copied everywhere or not. I'd like to think it's possible. Let's hope for the best.
|Sunday, June 24th, 2007|
In the auction/head-to-head league, I'm in dead last place. In head-to-head, if you start off poorly, it is extremely difficult to recover. I had some disastrous draft picks. Carpenter was hurt, and it took awhile to play itself out. Barfield had a horrendous start. I ended up cutting him for Brandon Phillips, but the damage was already done. Glad he was still unclaimed. Young and Sheffield had horrendous starts. Ibanez had an injury and I never knew. Glaus got hurt immediately.
With no third basemen available, and a team that couldn't hit water if it fell out of a boat, I traded Verlander and Papelbon for David Wright and Dontrelle Willis. I knew I'd be cutting Willis soon, but I needed a third basemen badly. I figured I could still find guys on the waiver wire as the season wore on. Wright started slowly for me, but he's been pretty solid lately. I had plenty of other inquiries from people trying to buy my slumping stars at the low.
The auction team is:
1B Carlos Pena
2B Brandon Phillips
3B David Wright
SS Michael Young
OF Gary Sheffield
OF Matt Holliday
OF Reggie Willits
Util Raul Ibanez
Bench Carlos Delgado
SP Roy Oswalt
SP John Maine
SP Justin Germano
SP Mark Buehrle
SP Jorge Sosa
SP Rodrigo Lopez
SP Jeff Francis
RP Billy Wagner
RP Matt Capps
RP Brad Hennessey
DL Jason Bergmann
So there have been a lot of changes to this team in only two months. I think the team is ready to start doing something soon. I am only 13 games out of the last playoff spot, with 10 more weeks left after this week until the playoffs, so there is certainly hope.
As for the Roto team, I had a lot of the same problems. As my starting pitching was abysmal, I loaded my team up with ace middle relievers so I could lower my WHIP and ERA. Before I did that, my team was dead last in both categories. Now my team is near the top in both categories. I lead the league in saves, despite not having drafted a single guy who was named closer as of draft day. I don't think this league has had a single trade yet. Not sure if people are trying or not, but that's how it's been. My auction league loves to make trades, though.
Anyway, here is what my roto team looks like now:
C Jorge Posada
1B David Ortiz
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Michael Young
3B Garrett Atkins
OF Gary Sheffield
OF Adam Dunn
OF Raul Ibanez
Util Kevin Youkilis
Bench Josh Barfield
Bench Casey Kotchman
Bench Scott Podsednik
SP Chris Young
SP Justin Germano
SP John Maine
RP Al Reyes
RP Jonathan Papelbon
P Alan Embree
P Pat Neshek
P Scot Shields
P Rodrigo Lopez
Bench Derek Lowe
Bench Chad Billingsley
DL Jason Bergmann
DL Chris Carpenter
So this team has changed somewhat, also. Youkilis was a huge addition. He had great average and was scoring a lot of runs in that lineup in Boston. Sheff and Young caught on fire, and Posada is performing way above expectations. All this allowed me to sit Atkins while he was slumping. The bullpen, as I said before, has been instrumental in mounting this comeback. This team is in third. It's still a long way to catch the first place team, but I think this team has a good shot at competing for it. All that despite being in the cellar for much of April, and one of the most competitive waiver wires I've seen since playing FBB.
|Friday, April 6th, 2007|
|My Team from the Auction Draft
It was a crazy auction, with managers paying up big for marquee hitters. I didn't follow suit, for the most part, and chose to spend money on a couple of top pitchers while this was all going on. The league is a 6x7 head to head. In pitching, CGs were replaced with Quality Starts and Losses. Here is my team, with what I paid for each player:
C Victor Martinez $21
1B Giambi $11
2B Josh Barfield $7
3B Glaus $11
SS Michael Young $19
OF Matt Holliday $28
OF Sheffield $9
OF Ibanez $12
Util Corey Patterson $8
P Carpenter $37
P Oswalt $31
P Papelbon $14
P Wagner $11
P Verlander $13
P Jered Weaver $9
B Kelvim Escobar $5
B John Patterson $7
B Pat Burrell $1
B John Maine $3
B Sexson $3
Given the 6x7 format, I think pitchers should be worth a little more than before. I added Jason Jennings today, given that Weaver was on the DL. I was on vacation until last night, or I would have added someone sooner. The Carpenter pick could really haunt me this season if his elbow shelves him. J. Patterson and Escobar have real risks, but the price was right on those. I know V-Mart looks pricy there, but consider that McCann went for $29 and Mauer went for around $25. After those three catchers, the market falls off. Holliday at $28 was a real bargain in this draft, I kid you not. I'm not sure how this team is going to turn out. The new categories make this year especially interesting.
|Thursday, March 22nd, 2007|
Last season, I finished second in both leagues I played in. Hopefully I'll improve on that this year.
Anyway, we had a draft in one of my two leagues last night. The format is 5x5 roto, 13 teams drafting. I drafted 10th. Here is my lineup, in the order I drafted the players:
Greenie MonstersView All
Round Pick Player Position
1. (10) David Ortiz 1B
2. (17) Chris Carpenter SP
3. (36) Garrett Atkins 3B
4. (43) Michael Young SS
5. (62) Gary Sheffield 1B,OF
6. (69) Adam Dunn OF
7. (88) Josh Barfield 2B
8. (95) Chris Young SP
9. (114) Jonathan Papelbon RP
10. (121) Raúl Ibañez OF
11. (140) Scott Podsednik OF
12. (147) Jorge Posada C
13. (166) Anibal Sánchez SP
14. (173) Derek Lowe SP
15. (192) Freddy García SP
16. (199) Adam Wainwright RP
17. (218) Jeremy Sowers SP
18. (225) John Maine SP
19. (244) Dan Wheeler RP
20. (251) Bob Howry RP
21. (270) Clay Hensley SP,RP
22. (277) Pat Neshek RP
23. (296) José Guillén OF
Papelbon had not been selected as the closer when we did the draft. I caught a break on that one, as he was selected as the closer today. This way, he will instantly have value, whereas if he started, it might take some time to get used to doing that again. With 13 teams, it's not as easy to get what you want, also. I look back and think I could have done better with some of the picks. Drafting Podsednik was painful, but I really needed a speedster (I couldn't bring myself to punt the category completely), and he was the last one available. Garcia is a question mark as he left yesterday's game with pain in his biceps. I knew it when I drafted him, but I thought it wasn't going to be serious, that it was part of what March is all about. Another thing that was weird was that I lost my connection in the first round (the draft was online), and it automatically selected David Ortiz for me. Vlad was still available. Last year, I selected Vlad with the third pick in this same league. Things have changed somewhat since then, but I would have liked to think about it. But that's life, and I should not have tried to draft on my remote, which hiccups at the most inopportune times every so often. After that, I ran to the hardwired computer to draft Carpenter just in time.
Saturday is the auction draft. There is nothing quite like that in FBB. It's a much different game than the standard snake draft. I know that my team is going to be quite a bit different than the team I just drafted last night, for better or for worse. I'll try to post that roster this weekend before I go on vacation.
|Sunday, March 18th, 2007|
|Sunday, August 20th, 2006|
It's been awhile....
I salvaged a sixth place finish at this year's US Scrabble Open. Landsberg (Mr. 770) told me that he and I were the only two players among the top 28 finishers who failed to break 500 in any game for the tournament. I did get routed a few times, though. It was a strange event, to say the least. I had a negative point spread for most of the tournament. After round 15, I was 8-7, minus 578. I was able to finish in the plus, in double figures. It's hard to say what happened this event. I didn't record the racks, so I can't say whether or not I was playing well this event. I felt like I was, but that doesn't necessarily mean I was. It's easy to be fooled into thinking that. Staying in the right frame of mind and not losing sight of the objective can be hard when getting routed in the losses and falling further and further behind the leaders. It's easy to want to phone it in. I'm known for big second half rallies, but I attribute this in part to having had to make the money for the plane fare back home when I was a starving college student.
I haven't been doing much in the market. I felt a little snakebitten after May and June, and I did pay more attention to studying for the tournament through July. The market seems to be shaping up a bit better now. Recent buys are Motorola and Nokia.
It looks like I will be working again soon. I'll provide more details when it happens.
As for the fantasy baseball, I'm in second in both leagues. In the 6x6 head to head, there's no explanation. My team is very erratic, and it's getting a lot of breaks from the vagaries of the head to head format. There is no feeling of domination. If it was roto, I would have been done long ago. The loss of Sheffield has been hard to overcome. My team is:
The hitting needs some changes, I think. The bullpen has been more than solid, and the starting has been inconsistent. Trying to trade a front line closer for a front line starter is easier said than done. Last week the starters had a great week, but they sucked this week. My opponent sends five starters to the mound tomorrow. If they do well, and my offense collapses tomorrow, the rout is on.
As for the 5x5 roto weekly lineup league, I'm about 10-11 points out. My team has been dead last or near last in batting average. There are 11 teams. It is in 7th place in runs scored. So I needed runs and batting average. I made some big trades at the deadline. One thing right now is that there is no starting pitching to be found on the waiver wire. Because of that, I have been able to trade some of my second tier starters for great hitters. I got the ball rolling by trading Halladay (though he's first tier, obviously) for Jeter. I got a gift in Tejada for John Maine, also. Maine has been holding up his end of the bargain, though. I also unloaded Jeremy Sowers for Carl Crawford. Crawford was a great fit for my team. I've never been big on Crawford because he doesn't draw walks and he plays for a terrible team, but I needed average in a big way. Don't get me wrong, I know this was a good trade for me. The team I traded with didn't have room for Crawford. The trade happened right before the deadline.
This team is:
Pat Neshek (a Twin setup guy with a ridiculous K ratio and other great numbers)
Liriano is on the DL. I hope he makes it back and pitches well.
I should be able to gain in runs and average down the home stretch. Whether I erase the 11 point deficit remains to be seen.
|Monday, July 3rd, 2006|
|Half game out
The head to head squad had a decisive 7-2 victory this past week. Brian Roberts finally hit a homer. One more and the Duane Kuiper comparisons will cease. Delgado missed a few games, but I didn't have to make changes because the leads in the hitting categories were pretty solid. Otherwise, the lineup did well, winning 4 of the 6 hitting categories, while losing walks and tying in stolen bases. The only pitching category we lost was wins. No CGs for anybody, and a tie in WHIP. The Tiger additions have been good, but not great. Granderson had a mini-slump last week, but he generally doesn't have days where he puts zeros across the board. Thames has been a solid addition. I like the upside of these two additions, and though I downplay what they have done, they are a big improvement over Sexson/Hawpe.
The one thing this team needs is a lockdown starting pitcher. Peavy has been disappointing, but not enough for me to bite on any of the offers I have received for him. Same with D-Train. Sheets, I wonder if he'll come back healthy this year. Fortunately the starting rotation has been decent, though they can't get wins and they don't always strike out a lot of batters. I have a solid bullpen, and I am willing to trade one of my best two for a top tier starter, but nobody wants to give up their best starters for a closer, it seems.
I've generally made some decent picks the past two weeks. I seem to be quietly regaining lost ground. ESV was a good flip this past week. I paid 40.50 1-2 weeks ago, and dumped it today for about 46.75 today. I've tried a few shorts. FITB has been a nothing after I factor in the dividend I had to pay out. EOG has been a loser, and MTRX has been pretty flat. Shorting is not easy, that's for sure.
I'm back to studying for the big event in August. I have my updated study program, so I should be set, so long as I spend the requisite time. The new words will not sink in easily, as I've said before.
|Wednesday, June 28th, 2006|
|Bob Denn 1927-2006
Damn, even though I knew this was going to happen, it still hits me
pretty hard. I'm thinking of all the time that our paths in this
game crossed. Those of us who had the honor of playing at his clubs
and playing at his annual Arden Cup event all got to see what kind
of a man Bob Denn was. It is not often you see someone with a grace
like his. He wasn't somebody one got to know very well, but his
presence was felt by many in this game. I think back to how he ran
his club. He supplied all the boards, tiles and Sam Timers. For
real. He found many great venues for us. Barnes and Noble,
Borders, and the gourmet food section of Marshall Field's (we're
next to the gourmet chocolate section), where the club is currently
situated. Thinking back, I wish I showed up more often. His
presence was always felt there, by everyone. Before I played there
regularly, the members had gotten him a personalized board in
appreciation of his outstanding stewardship.
The Arden Cup was a testament to who Bob was. It was a chance for
those who didn't get to play in his clubs to find out what Bob was
all about. I'll never forget the extravagant reception he put on at
Maggiano's one year on the Friday before the event began. That was
definitely unprecedented (though he would certainly pull out all the
stops again when he ran the Can-Am last year). The venue is an
excellent one. And there are the trademark bowls of gumdrops at
each board, that are always replenished at various intervals. The
trophies (the eponymous Arden Cup) are something else, too. They're
so heavy that they have to be mailed home to out of town winners. I
wish everyone could have seen when Bob was presented with the
People's Choice for Director of the Year Award at this past
tournament. Those that saw it will never forget. People either
cried or really wanted to.
Over the past few months, I had been going to club, each time
wondering if it would be the last time I would see him again. I
always looked forward to showing up and chatting with him about
whatever was going on in the game at the time. I was able to go to
his place to visit him a couple more times before he finally passed
on. I'm glad I did. It seems like we all know someone who passed
away who we didn't get to spend a few more quality moments with. It
goes without saying that Wendy and I will really miss Bob. It's not
often in one's life that one meets someone like Bob, and sees how he
touches the lives of all around him. I hope that many of you in
this group get the opportunity to come to the Arden Cup next year
and witness his spirit that will imbue this event for many years to
|Monday, June 19th, 2006|
|The luck catches up
Last wee, I had what would be, by most accounts, a very solid week in the head to head league. I had 33 runs, hit 10 homers, drove in 40 runs, stole 8 bases, drew 25 walks, had a complete game, had 6 saves, and struck out 71 hitters. I did hit .263, won 4 games, had a 4.99 ERA, and had a 1.29 WHIP, however. I ended up losing the week 7-3. My opponent had 38 runs, 11 homers, 9 stolen bases, and 28 walks. He also had 4 wins and a CG, along with a much better AVG, ERA, and WHIP. But as I said before, when my team was suffering through one injury after another, it hung in there and got a lot of breaks in the head to head. It's funny how head to head works sometimes.
|Thursday, June 15th, 2006|
The Jonny Gomes gravy train has stopped running long ago. He has shoulder problems, and won't be starting in any non-DH interleague games because he can't throw the ball. None of this can be good. I think it only gets worse from here. I replaced him with Raul Ibanez. I'm not too excited about the Mariners' anemic 1-2 punch of Ibanez and Sexson in my lineup, but it is what it is right now. I also cut Tony Armas, Jr., as he had only had one quality start in his last six starts. I added Enrique Gonzalez from the D-Backs, whose first four starts have been impressive. He will likely pitch on Sunday afternoon in Texas. Doesn't matter too much because my pitching stats appear to be shot for the week, thanks to Armas and D-Train yesterday.
I'm still liquidating longs right now. I got a good bounce in one today. That saved me a little money, anyway. And I just got short in FITB. It broke down yesterday out of a symmetrical triangle that formed over a 9 month period. I need to pay attention to this side of the market. I think there are some opportunities to be had shorting right now. I've certainly missed enough of them lately, anyway.
|Monday, June 12th, 2006|
I played my final event before Phoenix this past weekend. It's an invitational event run by Mike and Pamina in even numbered years. I took second this time around. Wiegand ran away with it this time, and won for the second time in a row. The event was started in 1984, and the only time it was not run was in 1994. I had an incredible run in this event, winning it 7 times in a row, spanning from 1988 to 2002. I don't know what it is about this event, but for some reason I've had incredible success at it. It's kind of like Sam Snead at Greensboro. (He won that event 13 times.) One of the things about Albuquerque is that it's about a mile above sea level. One does have to adjust to that. Saturday featured 11 rounds, and I was exhausted by the time round 10 hit. I guess I need to get off my ass and go to the gym more often. At times I was happy at how I was playing, and at other times I wasn't. The new words continue to be a nuisance. I chickened out on a few of them, and flat out missed one or two of them. That needs to be figured out before Phoenix. I know a lot of other people are struggling with them, also, but having an edge here is important.
The market has been brutal lately. Today was bad, and the past few have been small losers. Times like this make me wonder what I'm even doing with long positions. If anything, it's been a great learning experience, though it has been expensive sometimes. Every time I think I have it figured out, I realize soon enough that I really don't. I could be liquidating some more positions tomorrow and Wednesday if this keeps up. I haven't been at this very long, so I don't have a wealth of experience, save for my market making career, and that wasn't nearly the same thing as this. I'm not playing with big stakes here, so I can't get hurt too badly.
This past week in FBB featured a classic matchup with the defending champ of the league. I lost Runs 35-36, HRs 14-17, BBs 23-25, Saves 9-12, and Ks 53-54. I won RBIs 48-40, AVG .298-.294, Ws 4-2, CGs 1-0, ERA 3.20-5.43, and WHIP 1.25-1.42. SBs were tied at 5 apiece. So I ended up winning the match 6-5. It was nice to see my team finally come together for a change. There were a lot of trying times in the past few weeks, though I was generally very lucky to have not sustained too many losses in that period. Sheffield is done, most likely for the season. The outfield is now C. Lee, Jonny Gomes, and Brad Hawpe. Sexson still mans the utility spot, putting up Dave Kingman type stats. Delgado and V-Mart came back to life in a big way last week. Peavy is kind of scary right now, though. He's striking out hitters, but he's also getting tagged. He seems to be hurt right now. I think he'll recover, but I had very high hopes for him this season. I thought he was going to tear up the NL this year. In the weekly roto league, I'm firmly planted in third place. It's hard to get the team just right for one whole week. It's something I'm definitely not used to, that's for sure.
|Sunday, May 28th, 2006|
It was a close week in the head to head league. I eked out a 6-5 win, and I can't say I lit it up this week. Funny thing was that I would have been routed by two other teams, but squeaked out wins against 7 teams, while drawing against one other.
This upcoming week is going to be interesting. My pitchers in the head to head league have a brutal schedule. I have Armas pitching at Philly. I have Washburn pitching at Texas. I have D-Train at Coors Field. I have Contreras at Cleveland. Expect sky high ratios this week from the pitching staff. I'll send them out there and hope for the best. If it was rotisserie, I would sit most of them. If I only had one problem start, I could skip that one start. But with so many, I have to march them all out to face the music.
In the roto league, I added Gagne off the waiver wire. Can't believe he was there. I needed another closer. I only have K-Rod in that league. If Gagne stays healthy, this could be big.
Oh, and I finally had a few up days in the market this week. I was wondering when that was going to happen. I have to be aware that some of these are mere retracements and need to be watched closely. I escaped a disaster in CROX. Support failed, and I made sure I got out before it got out of hand. When it failed to rally to close above support, I bailed. Nothing worse than seeing something fail and then watching it collapse afterwards without having sold out at the first sign.
|Friday, May 19th, 2006|
Brian Roberts is supposed to be back in the lineup tonight. Has it been that long alredy? Brandon Phillips seems to have petered out this week. Roberts' return couldn't have come at a better time. Contreras will return on Sunday to pitch against the Cubs. He's been the surprise ace on the staff when healthy. After that, Shef comes back next week. Sheets is going to live on the DL this season, it looks like. I cut Phillips loose today and picked up Tony Armas, Jr, who starts against the O's tomorrow at home. Sexson is finally starting to hit, but there's no accompanying production with it. And I can't forget Hanley Ramirez. He popped out his shoulder a few days ago, and is day to day. He's too good to just cut, and since I have no chance at runs or SBs, it's not much use to disrupt my roster this week.
In the 5x5 league, Berkman and Giambi have nagging injuries. Liriano makes his first start tonight. One funny thing last night, though. I had Hallady starting against the Angels. He pitches 7 innings, giving up 4 runs. He leaves with the game tied, and doesn't figure into the decision, because the Jays failed to score the next inning, which was pitched by Shields, who is also on my team. K-Rod comes in to pitch the ninth with the score still tied. He gets out of that just fine, the Angels fail to score, and he comes in for the 10th inning. Of course, he gives up 4 runs in the top of the 10th, and the Jays win it. How can one have three pitchers appear in a game and get nothing useful out of any of them? It was pretty funny, anyway. Oh, and since the Jays scored four runs, BJ Ryan didn't get a save opportunity for me in the 6x6 league.