Fantasy Football Fallout: Picks #50 – #45

Fantasy Football Fallout… Triple F. FFF. This is the name of my weekly fantasy football column. As the season is approaching, I know most you are sitting there debating which players are going to ultimately stink up your mediocre team. But fear not, I’m here to save you with some realistic fantasy football commentary (hmmm… realistic fantasy football).

So the way this column works is simple… In the five weeks leading up to the NFL season, I will be commenting on 5 players (two columns per week). I will tell you things you may not want to hear, but you may learn something. Last but not least, I will offer my personal projections. To make this column fun, I will be using CBS Sportsline’s Top 50 players as a guide, and commenting on them in reverse order. Also, I have included Buy/Sell ratings relative to draft position (Buy = Draft, Sell = Don’t Draft)

Rankings #50 – #41

#50 – Willie Parker
One of the most intriguing running backs in football is Fast Willie Parker. Coming out of relative Willie Parker: Contract year killer?obscurity, he has surpassed all expectations. He’s got himself two Super Bowl rings, three consecutive years of 1,000 yards rushing, and a great O-Line. Of course, everybody will point to Rashard Mendenhall as the heir-apparent. You know, the same Mendenhall who was put on  IR halfway through his first start. I don’t buy him as a legit threat at all, unless Willie suffers a major injury. Regardless, you can count on Parker missing a game or two in 2009; as he has only played one full season in his career. On the flipside, he did play in 3 playoff games last season.

Conclusion: He’s in a contract year.
Rushing: 280 attempts. 1,176 yards. 9 TDs
Receiving: 17 receptions. 120 yards. 1 TD
*** BUY ***

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Tough month for boxing gets darker with loss of classy Forrest

Vernon Forrest (left) trades blows with Shane Mosley

Unlike Arturo Gatti, I don’t know a lot about Vernon Forrest, who was murdered in cold blood in an apparent attempted robbery recently. I’ve seen a bunch of his fights, but he didn’t make the impact on me that Gatti did.

The fact that Forrest was not the star that Gatti was does not make it any less sad what happened to him. In fact, in certain ways it’s sadder, because from all accounts, Forrest was one of the truly good guys in the sport. 

In a sport where often the louder you talk, the more opportunities you get, he rarely talked excessively before fights and was still able to win three world titles, despite the media treating him with disdain for not being a great quote. He represented our country proudly at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona – to think, all anyone ever mentions from those Games is Oscar De La Hoya. He overcame several injuries that would have ended most careers, persevering after, for example, a rotator cuff tear.

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Update: Marbury needs to get some help

I recently did a post here quoting some of Stephon Marbury’s bizarre rants during a 24-hour Webcam stint he recently did, but I’ve had it pointed out to me that Marbury was actually breaking down and crying on camera. Now that, I didn’t know. So I didn’t think it fair to pile on the guy. I mean, there’s a difference between being totally crazy – in a non-toxic way – like Albert Belle, and being deeply disturbed like Stephon Marbury appears to be.

So as entertaining as those quotes were, I don’t think it proper to put them up as if they were simply the quirky comments of an eccentric dude. Marbury really might have an underlying deep sadness. Perhaps the personal pressure of coming back to his hometown of New York and ending up completely vilified has weighed on him. Factor in the deterioration of his skills, and you have a guy who faces the next 40 years of his life (hopefully) with most of his hometown hating him, his wife presumably hating him, and the burden of having millions and millions of dollars and no way to buy happiness. So it’s conceivable that Marbury is depressed.

With that realization, far be it from us to pile on this guy. Leave that to the “good folk” at Deadspin.

Joba’s future requires patience most fans don’t possess

Editor’s note: The following is a guest submission from Tom, a friend of SportsAngle, Yankees aficionado and general baseball expert. (He knew Justin Verlander was good before the Tigers – or anyone else — did) We hope for more from Tom when the spirit moves him, or a more regular role since nobody knows baseball better.

Anyone within 50 miles of New York who keeps even a casual eye on baseball news has surely been pushed to boredom by the exhausting debate over whether Joba Chamberlain should be used as a starting pitcher or a reliever by the Yankees. One more opinion on the subject isn’t needed — this explores the debate only in passing. What’s overlooked is the lack of patience shown by both sides of the argument — fans in particular. The much maligned Joba Chamberlain

Chamberlain’s first two months as a Major Leaguer enabled a tidal wave of hype that even the most talented pitchers wouldn’t be able to satisfy. An uneven transition to the starting rotation last season helped subdue the tri-state area, but a gem at Fenway Park — among other strong performances — kept followers wanting more than they can reasonably expect from a pitcher who will be 23 until September.

The problem is that when fans — and writers, especially in markets like New York — see what a player can do, they want nothing less than that level of production — all the time, starting right now. The truth is that Chamberlain’s best days are probably years away. And there’s nothing wrong with that. At his best, Chamberlain has shown the ability to silence a Major League offense for eight innings. At the same time, he has walked at least one batter in all but two of his starts this season — a sign that he’s still learning, and will be for some time. Just because he allows 10 baserunners in 3 1/3 innings doesn’t mean the experiment is over and he should be flung back to the bullpen. He isn’t anything resembling a finished product.

There are certainly exceptions — pitchers who pretty much turn the Major League learning curve on its head from the day they arrive. Dwight Gooden may be the best example, and more recently, Tim Lincecum has left nothing to be desired.

But pitchers who win the Cy Young Award in their second season are more uncommon than the average Joba cheerleader knows. Your team’s next big prospect may have torn up Triple-A and struck out Curtis Thigpen in his Major League debut, but he’s not Gooden and probably never will be. If he does win a Cy Young, you’ll have to wait for it, just like fans of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Randy Johnson did.

It wasn’t until Johnson’s seventh season that he walked fewer than four batters per nine innings. With 300-plus wins, he’s a lock for the Hall of Fame, even if fans in 1992 were griping about his inconsistency.

So yes, leave Joba Chamberlain in the starting rotation and let him grow up there. Just realize that what he does this season is no indication of how well he’ll pitch in 2016 — if he’s even pitching at all then.

Update: Stormy weather no match for Camp Sundown

Just a final note about Camp Sundown’s trip to Yankee Stadium – Before you get on me about the SportsAngle Curse, though it rained on Thursday night, it actually worked out perfectly, as it delayed the game so the campers could catch more of the game, a 6-3 victory over the A’s. Even the weather was smiling on this event.

I talked to a friend of the site who accompanied the campers to the game, and he said they had a terrific suite and then ended up right behind home plate in those cushy seats right behind the plate. They then went on the field and were able to hang out with Jorge Posada and Jose Molina (right). A great time was had by all.

I also paid my compliments to a Yankees PR guy, who called HOPE Week “Nourishment for the soul.” Well put, and congratulations again to the Yanks for doing something truly great for some very special people.

Newsday has a nice writeup of the hopefully-soon-to-be-annual event, along with a photo gallery.

Make no mistake: Rickey all about Rickey

Now I’m not about to tell you brand new Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson wasn’t a great player. Of course he was. And I loved him growing up – who didn’t? He was a swashbuckling stolen base machine who referred to himself in the third person.

That said, if anyone is a better testament to selfishness, I’d like to meet him. Rickey made it an art form. andyhayt

Now, before any fans of the 45 teams Rickey played for jump down my throat, I’ll point out that in terms of sheer talent, he’s up there with anyone. I feel like his talent might be overlooked just because he wasn’t a prodigious slugger in an era where that was beginning to come into vogue. (Though his 297 home runs are nothing to sneeze at) Rickey had an outstanding eye at the plate. And you can’t discount someone who had 130 steals in a season and 1,406 in his career.

Most impressively, as Joe Posnanski of SI correctly pointed out, Rickey not only was the all-time leader in runs scored – the entire point of the sport – but also in unintentional walks, demonstrating his remarkable ability to get on base and make something happen when he did.

But you also can’t discount that in his 130-steal season, Rickey was caught an astounding 42 times – so his percentage in 172 attempts was 76%. That’s not terrible, but he still ran himself off the bases 42 times. Last year’s MLB steals leader, the immortal Willy Taveras, stole 68 bases – hardly 130 – but he was caught just 7 times (90%).

In that 1982 season, add up his hits, walks and HBP, take out his homers and triples (when he likely wouldn’t be stealing a base) and it comes to 247 – and he ran 172 times, 69% of the times he put himself on base. I’ll take out his two steals of home and the 19 times he stole multiple bases successively after getting on, and it still comes to 61%. (I admit, it’s an inexact science because it doesn’t factor in getting on base via fielder’s choices, errors and things of that nature, but it’s still telling)

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Wisest of moves results in incredible catch, perfect game

Until recently, I thought Endy Chavez’s catch in the 2006 NLCS was the most amazing clutch play I’d seen as a baseball fan, and it may still be, given the circumstances and what was on the line. buehrle

But Dewayne Wise’s catch with nobody out in the ninth inning to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game was up there. What made it more incredible was his juggling act on the way down from the wall. To go to such lengths to preserve a no-hitter is incredible, and almost took the attention away from Buehrle’s feat. ( currently leads with Wise instead of Buehrle)

The most amazing thing of all is that Wise was put in before the inning began as a defensive replacement. The first thing the guy does is preserve Buehrle’s perfecto.

What a managerial move. What a catch. He leaves something to be desired as a hitter, but Dewayne Wise can play for my team any time.

Ode to access: An unbiased Stadium review from Row 13

Editor’s note: The same week RjE went to the Stadium and shared his thoughts, the Yankees planned to host the folks from Camp Sundown for a wonderful sleepover event. SportsAngle is a huge advocate of the cause and the event – for more info on Camp Sundown, check out their site and feel free to make a donation.

Monday Night, 7/20/09, The Bronx.

I’ve spent the last year hearing about how amazing the new Yankee Stadium is, and how I had to get out there to experience the difference. On this site, our resident commentator, Esoteric, referred to it in a tongue-in-cheek fashion as an “Ode to Excess.” (Author’s Note I: I refuse to believe the words of someone who bills themselves as “Esoteric”). Being that the Orioles were in town, I decided that there wasn’t a better time than right now to sit through nine innings of torture (Author’s Note II: I am a long-time suffering O’s fan).

• Thanks to a family friend, my fiancé (Kelly) was able to score incredible seats 13 rows behind home plate, down in Kate Hudson territory. The face value on my ticket was $hudson325. I only need to ask one question… What recession?
• We parked at one of the River Street garage lots. $19 for Event Parking. In this horribly dank, musty lot, three fans were pounding down cheap beer and listening to Metallica. Yep, sounds about right.
• We walked around the exterior of the stadium, noticing how out-of-place the stadium felt right in the middle of the Bronx. Walking by a sea of cheap-o-marts and dollar stores into this posh, billion-dollar facility was surreal.
• Kelly decided to wear her Mariano Rivera jersey to the game, while I decided to sport an Orange-and-Black O’s jersey with no name or jersey number on the back (Author’s Note III: There is no point in getting an Orioles player’s jersey, as they will be gone from the team once their rookie deal expires).
• Yankee fans are heckling me. I’ve been told to “Go back to Baltimore!”
• We meet up with some friends and enter the Stadium. We are not patted down, and security is more relaxed than I expected.
• We walk around the interior, and right away, it felt like a cross between Citizens Bank Park and the old Stadium. It also felt smaller, and cleaner.

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Yankees offer special visitors a night to remember

We take so many things for granted every single day and don’t even know it, like the simple act of walking outside and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face.

What if you couldn’t do that?

Wayne Coffey’s excellent article in the NY Daily News on Sunday called our attention to a rare subset of very special people who don’t have that very basic luxury. About 250 people in the United States and 1,000 worldwide have an affliction called Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), in which their skin and eyes simply can’t handle ultraviolet light, be it from the sun, or even from fluorescent lights and television sets.

People who are affected by XP are about 2,000 times more likely to get cancer, and they often have to have up to hundreds of painful surgeries at very early ages. Their hearing and eyesight are often affected. Perhaps most striking, because of their condition, they can’t go outside during the day unless every inch of their body is covered, forced to live a mostly nocturnal existence to avoid the dangerous rays of the sun. In addition, their life expectancy, though it has improved through research, is not as long as the rest of the world’s.

Thankfully, there’s a place up near Poughkeepskie, N.Y., named Camp Sundown – created yanks480by the parents of a young lady with XP – where people affected by the disease can come together free of charge for a healthy dose of nighttime fun. They hold carnivals, take trips and play games, all under the cover of moonlight and the supervision of caring and loving counselors. In addition, the Camp is part of a foundation that contributes money to researching XP.

And none other than the New York Yankees are making sure that these very special individuals have a very special evening.

On Thursday night, as part of the Yankees’ Hope Week – which included a visit on Tuesday from Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez and Joba Chamberlain with little leaguer Tom Ellenson (see picture), who has cerebral palsy – the campers will travel to the Bronx to catch some of the Yankees’ game against the A’s from their very own suite.

And after the game is over, Camp Sundown has the run of Yankee Stadium.

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First impressions: Introducing RjE

Editors’ Note: We’re excited to welcome longtime associate Ron Epstein to the SportsAngle family. Ron has been an Internet writer for quite some time and has a unique take on things. We look forward to his contributions.

My name is Ron Epstein. I love sports. I also love to write.

It took me a long time to write an appropriate opening for this introductory post. Definitely not the way I wanted to make my first impression with you, the reader.

Now let me get this out of the way. I like you. I like you a lot. With all the garbage clogging up the Internet, I am thankful that you’ve trusted me enough to spend your valuable time reading my ramblings instead of those of countless others you’ve never met across the Internet sports scene.

Because you’ve put so much faith in me, I want you to know that I won’t let you down. I want to make you laugh. I want to make you cry. I want us to grow old together. On our magical journey together, we will learn many things about each other. favrejobasplit480

You will learn that I am extremely opinionated and not always well thought out.  I will learn that you don’t mind that so much. In fact, you may even encourage it.

You will learn that I believe that the American sports machine is seriously broken. Something is wrong in our sports culture when SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship “news” offering, constantly runs a decidedly uninformative crawl that reads, “Brett Favre still undecided on whether to return to football.”

I’ve also learned that sports talk radio is even worse. The hosts are extremely unprepared, and their callers are generally a bunch of crybabies who can’t get over the fact that Joba Chamberlain is never going to return to the bullpen.

And I’ve even learned that many people spend more time on their fantasy football team than they do on their personal grooming habits. Regardless, I still like you, and I’m glad we’ve been able to make this introduction. Stop by often.

The world is a much better place now that SportsAngle is back.