GREG GAMBLE’S 2008-09 HARDWOOD Picks: 88-72 ats…55%
NBA 60-54 - NCAA 21-15 - Teasers 7-3 - Church League 69-0
Like some of the tainted swimmers Ronny Mexico gave a couple of his groupies, this Cutler story just won't go away. And sorry to keep boring you with my thoughts on it, but what can I say, I luv gridiron soap-opera material. Anywho, before we hit-up my hardwood selections, including the start of the NCAA Tourney, my Homeboy Otis Van Style is back with his second installment of fantasy diamond notes. So if you're interested in collecting some paper in your HR Pool this year, make sure to check out and shoot him an email if you think he's crazy for not throwin' Pablo Ozuna on this list - firstname.lastname@example.org
HANDICAPPING YOUR 2009 HOME RUN POOL
By: Otis Van Style...aka ur Fantasy Cuz
How about the Netherlands beating the Dominican twice in the WBC? Those are my guys. The Dominican had something like 23 major league players on their roster, while the Netherlands had two pitchers who “pitched”, if you can call it that, in the big leagues last year (Ponson and VandenHurk) and a bunch of guys who can’t hit the ball out of the infield. As of this writing, the U.S. and the Netherlands were getting ready to square of in an elimination game.
Every home run pool is run differently, but for the most part, you’ll pick a certain number of players from several groups. Usually, these groups are based on how many pumps the guy hit the previous season. Because of this stat being the basis for the groups, the novice fan can be exposed in a home run pool in a bad, bad way. For example, Ty Wigginton and Luke Scott hit 23 home runs last year, so they’re in the same group as Matt Holliday (25) and Justin Morneau (23). I’m not a huge Holliday fan now that he’s in Oakland, and I also believe that Morneau’s MVP Award and continued candidacy, based solely on his RBI totals, are probably unwarranted, but you’d have to be out of your mind to pick Wigginton and/or Scott over either of them.
Here’s a rundown of my picks this year:
Group A (1 player)
Ryan Howard- If healthy, combined with the bandbox that he plays in, he’s the safe bet to lead MLB in bombs this year. The 29-year old has averaged 51 home runs in his three full seasons.
Group B (1 player)
Albert Pujols- Supposedly still just 29 years old, “Believe in Me” has gone deep at least 32 times in each season of his eight-year career. A machine, and as a Cubs fan, I can’t stand the dude. Looked pretty slim on the cover of SI, didn’t he? Hmmm……
Group C (3 players)
Manny Ramirez- Can you really take Jack Cust or Ryan Ludwick (and yes, both guys are in this group) over Man Ram and live wih yourself all season...didn't think so!
Ryan Braun- I’ll never understand how a guy who looks like he weighs 160(listed at 6-1, 200) has so much power. 71 bombs the last two seasons, and at 25 years old, should still be getting better. As a Cubs fan, I’ve learned to hate Braun & his taunting ways quickly.
Miguel Cabrera- Led the AL last year with just 37 pumps and has hit at least 33 in four of his five full seasons. Just 26 years old, but gets bigger and less agile each year. Remember when he played right field for Florida in the 2003 NLCS? He’s a first baseman now and a future DH.
Group D (3 players)
Mark Teixeira- Might not ever again hit 43 like he did while playing in the launching pad in Arlington in 2005, but the short porch at Yankee Stadium and the pressure of the contract should allow for a minimum of 35.
David Wright- If I have the number one overall fantasy pick, this is my guy. Has hit between 26-33 in each of his four full seasons, with the 33 coming last season. At 26 years old, the career-best number in 2008 might mean the home run number will go up again in 2009.
Hanley Ramirez- 25 years old, and home run totals have gone from 17 to 29 to 33 from 2006-2008. Future MVP.
Group E (3 players)
Lance Berkman- Good value pick here. Hit just 29 last year, but had a total of 79 extra base hits, due to 46 doubles. If some of those doubles go over the fence again, another 40 home run season is possible.
Jason Bay- With the exception of a 2007 season ruined by a knee injury, he’s been between 31-35 in each of his full seasons. 30+ out of this group is good. A bit of a risk, but the short distance of the Monster makes him a tempting pick.
Josh Hamilton- I’m not getting caught up in the hype from the 2008 Home Run Derby, but he simply has more upside than other options from this group, such as Beltran, Vlad, A-Ram or Youkilis, who hit 29 home runs last season, 12 of which cleared the fence by 10 feet or less. You got to love Baseball Prospectus.
Group F (3 players)
Holliday- He’s going to drop off big-time in Oakland, as his career home-road are just as drastic as Coors products such as Vinny Castilla, the Big Cat, Larry Walker, and any other Rockies legend. If the A’s are out of contention in July, he’ll be dumped since he’s in his contract year.
Morneau- Solid value pick here. He hit only 23 last year after 34 and 31 the previous two seasons. Not yet 28, so he shouldn’t be in decline.
Brian McCann- Without much fanfare, this guy is the best hitting catcher in the game. He’s jacked 65 home runs the past three seasons in his age 22-24 seasons. It is tough to take backstops in this because they never play 162 games, like other position players do. Adrian Beltre, in a walk year (remember when he hit 48 for the ’04 Dodgers) was tempting.
Well, that's all for today, but I'll be back next week with more fantasy chatter to hopefully help you win some fantasy cheddar this season. And if you missed my first piece for IP.com, Touch Me Here.
Take it easy, Otis Van Style - email@example.com
2009 NCAA TOURNEY ACTION - PLAY IN GAME
Just like Tila compared to real actresses, just because Alabama St. & Morehead St. are not one of top dogs doesn't mean they still can't provide a lil excitement!
ALABAMA ST. HORNETS vs MOREHEAD ST. EAGLES (-2.5)
While the Hornets have the majority of the action in Vegas with their sexy 13-1 run to finish off the season, if you pay any attention to the RPI, those wins came in arguable the worst D1 hoops conference in the land. The SWAC ranked 31st out of the 32 conferences in RPI, ranked dead last in strength of schedule, and the Hornets helped prove these weaknesses by losing seven of their first nine games of the season out of conference.
On the flipside, while Morehead St. doesn't play in the Big East, their conference ranked 23rd overall with their own RPI 37 spots higher than Alabama St., and they closed out the season beating the #5, #1, & #3 ranked teams in the conference for their tourney bid. In addition, they have one of the most underrated young ballers working around the bucket in 6-8 So. Kenneth Faried (13.9 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 57-fg%) and a Sr. leader in 6-5 Leon Buchanan (15.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 53-fg%, 80-ft%). As a result, the Eagles dream run continues as they stop a team who's starting center is named Chief Kickingstallionssims (no joke)...MOREHEAD ST. BY 7-12 POINTS
BOSTON CELTICS @ CHICAGO BULLS (+2.5)
Vinny Del Scott Baio's squad was unbelievable at home Saturday against the Hornets and should have the place rocking again tonight with the Defending Champs in the house. As for why I'm taking the most unpredictable team in the Association, I actually like the match-ups for the Bullies with KG out. Ben Gordon has been on fire and can easily match Jesus Shuttlesworth's output, John Salmons on Paulie Pierce is more even than people think, and the Rose/Rondo dual should be fantastic. Throw-in the trio of Brad Miller, Noah, & T-Time against the banged-up Celt frontcourt and I'm expecting to see some crazy playoff desperation that leads to victory tonight...BULLS BY A COUPLE
PHILLY 76ERS @ LOS ANGELES LAKERS (teased -5.5)
The Lakeshow is due for a blow-out after teasing the Mavs Sunday, while Philly doesn't have a two-guard to stop Kobe or a PF/C to stop the red-out Pau Gasol...LAKERS BY 12-18 PTS
DETROIT PISTONS (teased +10) @ DALLAS MAVERICKS
After the embarrassing home loss to the Grizz and the playoffs still not a guarantee, I expect the Pistons to give the Howard-less Mavs all they can handle tonight. BTW, Rip goes off for 35 tonight as the Mavs have nobody to stop him ...DETROIT IN A BUZZER-BEATER