Monday, April 27, 2009

Hits From the Pong...





These are traits that both college and NFL programs alike look for when evaluating who they want on their team. In college, it can be the difference between a D1 power and a DII scrub-factory, and in the NFL it can be the difference between a 7 figure guarantee on draft day, or a guy who's agent is left hustling like legless rickshaw driver. What don't these multi million dollar organizations look for when breaking down a player's talent?

Ping pong skills.

Evidence: While the Red Sox were busy sweeping the Yankees this weekend, yours truly was busy completing quite the sweep himself...

The combatants:

Game 1: Rooch vs former Patriot(?) and former UF Gator WR, Chad Jackson

Game 2: Rooch vs former Patriot and former UF Gator WR, Jabar Gaffney

The Results:

Game 1: Despite his best efforts to alter the score several times, CJ went down like an herb smoker on draft day, 21-15. Granted I was up 14-12, scored 3 straight points, and then somehow the score was 14-14, but let's not get into semantics. Fact is, despite his best efforts, The former 2nd round pick, and now official bust, couldn't handle my pin point accuracy, or my overwhelming power, and was neatly dispatched...

Game 2: This my friends, was quite a different story. Gaffney steps up, and despite claiming he was worn out from "playing NBA 2K9" (he played with the Bulls, by the way, which instantly made me a fan), proceeded to step up and produce some filthy spin that, in the beginning, had me thinkin' potential hustle could be forthcoming. Lucky for me, that was not the case. And while the Gaffer had plenty of English on his bean, he didn't have nearly enough control and dumped more than his fair share of gimmies into the twine. When all was said and done, final score Rooch 21 Gaffney 16...and I'm pretty sure at some point I heard Jackson on the sidelines (appropriate) making some sore of Forrest Gump reference...

2 Florida Gators? 2 second round picks? 2 guys sleeping in Laurence Maroney's house while Laurence is in Chicago?

Nah, they're just two other beached fish, flopping and gasping for air as I part the Red Sea that is the local ping pong community...

And no, I didn't tell Jackson how I'd ripped him on my blog and thought he was a huge bust-o-rama. What? Was I supposed to? I don't open conversations with you people by telling you that you suck at your job, do I? I didn't think so (and count yourself lucky your job isn't on TV, because then I just might). They were both very pleasant, and this was Show-friends, NOT Show-bidness. Had their been an open mic involved, well that could have been a rather different story. Still ending with me as ping pong champion of the universe, but also probably ending with a dredded man standing over me and blood coming from my ear...

Yeah, it was that kind of weekend, boys and girls. And while I'd love to give you a shot for shot breakdown on how I dismantled two pro athletes with my superior table tennis skills, I just don't have the time....Well, I do, but I can't really recall every shot, so you're just gonna have to imagine it. And just to help, I hit lot of sharp backhands and I serve the ball quickly and deep. There, that should be enough to give you a solid mental picture. Oh, and make sure to picture the other guys shirtless, and with tats all over their chests. And in Gaffney's case, two baby faces tatted on his back...

I said it before, and I'll say it again. You're all lucky/unlucky that I don't think I would look good with tats, because otherwise I would be sleeved up so hard that Kevin Pittsnogle would stop humoring me and signing all the Dog the Bounty Hunter memorabilia I send him...

But moving on. There were actually some real sporting events that went down this weekend, and I feel it's my duty to bring you my thoughts and opinions on the goings on...

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. And feel free to sip on a tasty beverage as you partake. I my self am a French Vanilla Iced Coffee man, but you can go ahead and drink whatever you'd like. Perhaps a Mr. Pibb? He's the Pepper's bastard child...

Get some...

NFL Draft

Just a few random observations on the draft. I'm not gonna break it down, because I learned long ago that trying to judge these things is impossible when you have such little information to work on. Like a blind guy judging a beauty pageant, or maybe like a President declaring war despite having contradictory military intelligence. You can pick which metaphor works better, I was just too lazy to make a decision...

Mark my words. Mark Sanchez might not be the next Ryan Leaf, but he's gonna be way closer to the Leafster than he is any guy named Manning, Brady or Roethlisbeger. Hell, let me take it one step further. What's his name, that half black half white Robert Smith lookin dude the Bucs took? Freeman? He's gonna be better than Sanchez. Flacco will be better, Ryan will be better, they'll all be better. Just like with Matt Leinhart, and with any future USC QB, I ask myself the question "Did this guy do anything as a QB to stand out on a team where virtually every player is headed to the NFL?". With Carson Palmer, I saw it. With Leinhart, and with Sanchez. I didn't. I always bring it back to my man Ken Dorsey at the U in the early part of the century. He was on a team stocked with pros, but since he didn't have the big arm, nobody wanted him in the NFL. They didn't care he had led those teams to a million wins, he just didn't have the body to make it as an NFL starter. OK, fine. Fair enough. But what makes Mark Sanchez so different? He led a pro-stocked team to a bunch of wins, but did little to show me that he was the reason the Trojans were a success. You look at his highlight reel, and it's him throwing to a bunch of guys that were either A) wide open OR B) jumping up and ripping the ball away from some JuCo transfer...

I'm not trying to knock him because he's a Jet, that's not my style. Jet, Patriot, Viking, I would rip the pick all the same. I just don't think the guy be a star at this level. Steve Young would want to cut my balls off for saying that, as he almost exploded when Sanchez "slipped" to 5, but I just don't see it. With Carson Palmer I saw it. With Big Ben, I saw it. With Eli Manning? Eh, not so much. 3 outta 4 ain't bad though. And with a record like that, I'll stick with my gut and say Sanchez will be a bust...


Ha! Suck on that, you fireman Teds...

So I've figured out the Patriots draft strategy, which is to say that I'm not more convinced than ever that I will never be able to predict what they're going to do. The good thing is, at least now I know why...

After watching the Pats trade out of the first round, I was hoping that this wasn't the start of a trend that would see the team make virtually no draft picks and instead trade them all away for future considerations. I mean, I love trading for future picks as much as the next guy, but at what point does it become a fruitless enterprise. You eventually gotta pick somebody, don't you?

Luckily, the second round brought the answer the my prayers. The Pats added 4 players in round 2, and were able to trade during round 3 for 2 additional picks in the 2nd round of next year's draft. And it all made sense. Before the draft, while there was some talk of trading up, most of what you heard out of Foxboro was that the Patriots viewed the draft as deep. Not as a whole, necessarily, but in rounds 2 through 4. Their picks reflected that. When all was said and done, the Pats added 7 players in rounds 2 through 5, traded for 2 second round picks in the '10 draft, and they didn't have to break the bank...

In review, I figured the Patriots must work on a draft system such as this...

Step 1: They rank all the players in the draft in order, from the best player in the draft, to the worst.

Step 2: They match up every player in the draft based on how much money they would be willing to pay them.

Step 3: They rank their own teams needs, placing a value on each available position on their roster.

How do they rank these guys? I have no idea, but I know they do it. They traded up last year to take Mayo because he fit into their rankings, but they didn't trade up, or even take their 1st round pick, this year because they didn't have a player on their board that met their criteria for that 1st round slot, or one they felt was worthy of trading up for. Instead, they kept moving back, accumulating picks, until they felt comfortable taking a particular player at a particular position. So while I'll never have the resources to figure how and why they rank players where they do, I think I've figured out how they do it. When the three rankings I have above all mesh, then they take a guy. When they don't they keep moving back. Are they sometimes forced to make a pick based on need or move a pick because of cap concerns? Sure they are. But in most instances, I think they try and stick to their rankings, stick to their scheme...

An extreme example would be if they had the #1 pick, nobody would trade them for it, and they didn't have a player they felt was worth taking, then they would continue to let other teams pick until they fell to a place where they felt comfortable selecting somebody. Gooddell would go nuts, and Belichick would laugh his ass off, but that's an extreme example that I'm sure will never present itself. Sure would be funny, though...

As for their actual picks, which you can view below, I like that they added some more depth in the secondary, and I like how they drafted a DT early to help ease the burden should Vince Wilfork depart during free agency. I know they didn't go after a LB like everyone thought they would, but I think guys on the roster like Pierre Woods, Vince Redd and Mike Crable are a lot better and more ready to contribute in the eyes of the Patriots brass than they are in the eyes of the average fan. Trading Ellis Hobbs? Surprising, but not a total shock. After adding two secondary players on day 1, not to mention Leigh Bodden and Shawn Spring in free agency, Hobbs was apparently the odd man out. A solid player, but someone whose departure doesn't exactly leave a gaping hole...

Patriots Draft Picks:

All in all, I like the value the Patriots seemingly attained, but I'm eager to see some of these "value" picks begin to pay dividends. Guys like Wheatley, Crable and Wilhite were all lauded for their value last season, but due to injuries saw little to no playing time. When all is said and done, you have to play. If you don't, you end up playing ping pong against some white kid in North Attleborough...

The Raiders took speedster WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with their 1st pick, most likely because he's basically the fastest man alive. Never mind that the kid couldn't catch a cold wrapped in a waterlogged smallpox blanket while waiting in line outside an Icelandic TB clinic. I actually watched Heyward-Bey play a 3-4 times this year for Maryland, and they got so frustrated with his inability to catch the bean that they would just hand it off to him on a reverse 3-4 times a game just so they could get the ball in his hands. Kid's a track star, not a wide receiver...

But it is the Raiders, after all. And in the 2nd round they did take a lineman from Ohio University that didn't make any of the Mid American Conference's 3 All Conference teams, and was listed as 7th round to undrafted on at least 6 different GM's draft boards. So I guess in the grand scheme of things, it all makes sense...

I bet that lineman had an ill 40 time, though...

"Al Davis picks by 40 times, and Isiah Thomas does all his scouting at the NIT Championship game" Sean Philipps + Yours Truly

Two words. Renaldo Balkman. And if you don't know how that all makes sense, then I suggest you look into it...

One of the best picks of the draft could turn out to be the Dolphins picking up West Virginia QB/WR Pat White. Insert that kid into the WildCat, and watch him work...

I give it 2 weeks before it's renamed the "WildPat". Feel free to proposition me on that one...

The quote of the draft was when ESPN cameras were on UCONN RB Donald Brown, but Keyshawn Johnson's mic was still on. When cameras originally went to Brown, he was sitting alone in his home and began geeking out like a tween at a Jonas Brothers concert. Nobody really noticed, though, because every one's eyes were fixed on the hideous looking blue velveteen couch he was sitting on. That thing looked like a sack full of smurfs being suffocated by a bunch of rail road ties...

So after Brown stops having his gleeful seizure, and the camera is getting ready to cut back to the draft, all you hear is Keyshawn Johnson, off screen, saying something to the effect of "he's gotta use that money to buy a new coach". Truly priceless, Key. I guess there's a reason they keep you around after all, Because we knew it wasn't your ability to break down games...

*The most awkward moment of the draft definitely came when ESPN sent Erin Andrews to Bergen, New Jersey to hang out with Bill and Quan Cosby. Right after it happened, I texted Frosco and asked him if he'd seen it, the train wreck that it was. When he responded that he had missed it, I told him not to worry, and that Deadspin would have it up within the next 24 hours...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Erin Andrews and Bill Cosby Comedy Minute...

Thank you Deadspin, your predictability is as entertaining as it is refreshing...

Red Sox Update

Overall: 12-6, 1 game behind Toronto in AL East

My Yankee friends up at school and I have always lived by the mantra "The baseball season doesn't really start until the Red Sox play the Yankees". Well, if that's the case, then the Bronx Bombers might just wanna call it quits right here and now. Not only were the Pin-Stripers swept, but thanks to the demoralizing, come-from-behind fashion in which they were so disposed, the sweep may have done more to shake their confidence than it did damage their record.

I know its early 'n all, but losses like that can take a toll, especially within the division and especially and the hands of a division contender and rival. Oh and add to that, especially when that team plays in New York, especially when they spent a quarter of a bil this offseason, and especially when they have the most volatile elderly owner this side of Marge Schott. Whether the Yankees the team on the field are in trouble, it's far too early to tell. But whether or not the franchise could be in for some serious turmoil if they don't quickly turn it around? The jury is still out on that one...

Oh and the funniest thing possibly ever: With 2 outs in the 9th inning of Friday's game, the YES network broadcast awarded it's Player of the Game award to the Yankees bullpen. Jason Bay then proceeded to hit a ball that, if not for that pesky green structure in center field, would be headed out to sea towards a teenage Somali pirate ship...Ahoy, bitches!!

As for the Sox themselves, I'm going to react to this 10 game winning streak the same way I reacted to their 2-6 start. Just like the 2-6 Sox, the 10-0 Sox aren't the team that's going to be around for the majority of the season. And to be completely honest, nobody in their right mind would have confidence in this pitching staff heading into an ALCS the way the starters are going...

I'm not all gloom and doom, though. I mean how can you be riding a 10 game winning streak and fresh off a sweep of the Yanks? I'm optimistic, just cautiously so, as I think any fan should be. And to prove my optimism, here are a few notes...rather one note, on one player...and of course Moneyball talk...

Kevin Youkilis is the best hitter in baseball. Period. As Billy Beane noted in Moneyball, Youk has always had an uncanny sense of the strike zone. Now, unlike most Moneyball walk-machines, he's actually combining that keen eye with the ability to hit to all fields, and hit to them with power. Now I'm not sayin' this just happened or anything. I'm well aware of the monster year he had last year. It's just that now, watching him really come into his own, it's more evident than ever that not only is he still the toughest guy to get out, but he's becoming one of the most feared hitters in the entire league...

I used to rip the guy because every time he got out he acted like a grave injustice had just been done to him, but now maybe I see his point. He's just that good at hitting. With his skills, he should expect to be on base every time he gets up. My apologies, good sir. Feel free to act accordingly...

Oh but don't feel free to continue making shady appearances on Man Vs Food. I swear on my life I watched that show for the first time this weekend, and there is Youk making some Teddish comment in the Eagle Deli in Boston while the show's NY host goes toe to toe with some Boston fatty in a burger eating contest. Listen, Youk. Just because Brad Pitt is tagged to play Billy Bean in the movie adaptation of Moneyball, doesn't make you some sort of defacto SAG member. Stick to baseball, brotha, and try to act like you half expected it to happen the next time you make an out at the plate...

Fantasy Baseball
Week 4 Name: The Jet Stole Home!

Week 3: L, 6-10-0 vs BoroBall8

Overall: 11th place, 17-29-2, 17 games back

This week I was whooped up on by none other than Rooch Nation Ambassador and baby-maker extraordinairre, Mr. Aaron Danho. With a strong opening and closing to the week, Aaron bested me in convincing fashion while yet again affirming to me the notion that baseball is a game of inches, and I am destined to be without those necissary inches for the rest of the season...

Nah, but seriously. Despite my lackluster start, I still have confidence in my squad. And with a couple interesting trades possibly in the works, I might like even more in the days to come...

As for this week's name, it's in honor of the resemblence between Jacoby Ellsbury, who nabbed home against Andy Pettitte on Sunday night, and the creepy older version of Benny "the Jet" Rodrgiuez from the classic film, Sandlot. Remember after the Jet did steal home, and he flashed that sex offender stache and a big thumbs up towards the announcer's booth at his buddy Smalls? Flat out creepy, man. And the older I get, the more convinced I am that at come county fair in the MidWest, "the Jet" is wearing black, Jordache jeans with a $20 hangnin' from the pocket, lookin' to diddle the next 18 year old that accidentally trips on the wire he's conveniently placed in the security camera's blind spot...

Classy? No. But it's a solid ender any way you slice it...

Speaking of classy, check back on Friday for my Kentucky Derby picks! I'll tell you which horse will win, which one's to bet on, and which one will likely end up being put to death right there on the track. What? Too soon?
Eight GlueSticks, we hardly knew thee...

Oh, well. In the words of pre-racist Kramer. "Giddy Up!"...

Have a great week everybody!



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