July 27, 2011

ROS? More Like SOS.

I've been filling in for my colleague Tristan H. Cockcroft this week on some of his baseball columns as he takes a well-earned week off to rest up for the upcoming -- and indeed we now know it IS upcoming -- NFL season. 

Part of the purpose of these columns (like this one) is to provide a list in which we predict a ranked order of players based on "their expected performance from this point forward, not for statistics that have already been accrued."

Everything's up in the air...
There's an inherent problem with stepping in for someone else in this task. For one, I had no part in shaping last week's list, and as such, I may or may not agree with it as a starting point. So when, in the article, I write about how I think Player X is due for a decline, it may not appear consistent with the fact that I end up raising this same Player X in the rankings by a few spots. 

But, in fact, the two can be completely consistent... if you consider that last week I may have simply had Player X ranked much higher than I did this week, yet even after docking him several spots in my rankings, I may still have him higher than where Tristan did last week. 

That's a difficult concept to express, and I'm not even sure I completely accomplished the goal of doing so here, so I get why people may call out the rankings as not being logically consistent with some of my points... and yet, I assure you, they are.

Wait? What?
But here's the even more confusing thing about these rest-of-season (ROS) predictions... Let's say that last week you agreed with the list that Player Y should be ranked 50th for the ROS. Now this week, after he hits .750 with five homers and 11 RBIs, where do you think he should be ranked?

Counter-intuitively, if we were indeed right last week, and Player Y had a great week, then in the new ROS ranks, he should actually drop in the rankings, shouldn't he? Otherwise, we were wrong last week and had him ranked too low. (So if you didn't complain then, you shouldn't have an issue with a lower rank now. And yet...) 

Regardless of the mathematical truth of the situation, however, once you make a list, people are going to disagree with it. That's the nature of the beast and part of what makes fantasy sports so much fun to play. 

So feel free to offer up your own opinions of who is going to be better than who, and where you think we've gone off the deep end. All I ask is that you try and make sure you're complaining for the right reasons.

July 15, 2011

Let's Compromise

I think I've finally figured out how to settle this whole AL-NL rules divide so that we can have six even divisions of five teams apiece, and all playing under the same set of rules. Here it is: the DPH.

Let him play!
Simply put, one of the biggest hurdles to unifying the leagues into one big, happy family is the fact that guys like Vlad Guerrero, Hideki Matsui, and David Ortiz can't play the field anymore, and if the DH is abolished, then whither these veteran sluggers? 

Add to that the fact that National League owners and fans don't want to lose the "strategy options" that having the pitcher hit provides.

So here's my idea: the DH is abolished and the pitcher bats ninth in all major league games -- excepting, of course, when Tony LaRussa does his pitcher-bats-eighth schtick. As is the case now, whenever the manager wants, he can pinch-hit for the pitcher and once this happens, the pitcher is out of the game. 
As long as I can still find a way to use this rule in a zany way...
Here's the difference: the next time the pitcher's spot comes into play the manager can once again use this same pinch-hitter (henceforth known as the DPH) to bat for the current reliever, which also forces him to remove the pitcher from the game. If he wants the pitcher to stay in the game, he has to let him bat, which will officially remove the DPH from being eligible to hit again in the contest (but he is then free to pinch-hit for future pitcher at-bats as he would any other position, in the current NL-style of play.)

I think this is a perfect compromise solution... it keeps an element of strategy in play, but also enables a "big bat/no glove" guy to get multiple at-bats in a ballgame. Comments welcome...

July 13, 2011

Worse than the World Cup

When an English team came calling on San Jose in a "friendly" who knew we'd see once of the lamest goaltending efforts in the history of the sport... Robert Green, you are off the hook.

July 11, 2011

Oh, Lord Won't You Buy Me Some Brains?

Keith and Porsche (Yes, spelled like the car. Sigh.)
So, now that Big Brother 13 is in full swing, I'm going to once again lament the choice by the "powers that be" to try and stir the pot with gimmicks. 

By bringing back 6 former contestants into the house to join 8 newbies, once one of the returnees won the HOH comeptition (in this case Rachel) the battle lines were clearly going to be drawn along those lines (as anyone with half a brain could have predicted.) 

Now, by itself, the concept of forcing the houseguests to play as pairs for the first few weeks would have been sufficient to generate conflict and to be the catalyst for alliances to form... and the fact that a secret alliance (nicknamed The Regulators) was indeed forged by one member of each of the four "new pairs" was a welcome surprise. For once, the casting department managed to find at least a few people who understand basic strategical concepts. Who knew they had it in them?

Unfortunately, the "pairs" conceit won't work when coupled with the returning duos because the forced pairings have no inherent loyalty to one another, whereas two engaged couples and a loyal father/daughter (at least when they are in the house) will never betray the other. The Regulators, in a house full of first-time cast members would be a force to be reckoned with... but in this format, they are all but guaranteed to remain outnumbered -- and that's before the alumni start to woo people to their side.

What did you expect? My name is EVEL!
As Evel Dick so brilliantly schemed out, what the"Alumni" have to do is to recruit one loyal noob (and eventual sacrificial lamb) to their team and they'll have the numbers advantage throughout the rest of the game. And Porsche walked right into his trap, somehow thinking that she was a genius for being smart enough to make such a bold move. 

Perhaps I would applaud her if not for the existence of the third wrinkle set in motion by the "powers that be" -- that pairs must be nominated together, and whoever of the two is not eliminated gets a free pass to the final ten. So, when Porsche immediately runs to her partner, Keith, and pretty much tells him that she's now in cahoots with Evel Dick, and isn't that great news... all she's really doing is giving him a heads up that he needs to start campaigning against her, because she's already going to have the Alumni voting to keep her and not Keith. 


Further, she honestly was stunned when she and Keith were ultimately nominated for eviction, and feels totally betrayed. 

Double stupid! 

She's not even clever enough to realize that the nomination is being made in order to get her that "golden key" and a trip to the top ten and therefore, is not a betrayal, but rather a sign that Evel Dick (and by extension, the entire Alumni, through HOH Rachel) is living up to his promise. 

Oh, ironic product placement, I think I love you!
Of course, because of certain major spoiler info that leaked -- another problem of trying to maintain secrecy and creating dramatic tension for the network broadcasts while Live Feeds of the ongoing competition are readily available to those who wish to see them -- much of what I've written above is about to be rendered somewhat moot. 

I'll not spoil it here myself, but it's just another example of the "unexpected" destroying much of what the "powers that be" tried to force-feed into the Big Brother game, when, had they simply gone with 14 new contestants... Well, things would be a lot less confusing in the next episode... 

Stay tuned!

July 7, 2011

All Apologies to Chubby Checker

Tonight is the premiere of the 13th season of Big Brother, a show with which I have a very strong love/hate relationship. 

Of all the reality shows out there, it's the most "pure" in terms of generating a winner. There are no judges to impress and, in theory, the viewing audience does not have a say in who ends up winning the whole shebang. The only people who determine who wins each season's top prize are the contestants themselves. 

Now, you could say the same thing about Survivor, but the reason I prefer Big Brother's game engine is because the structure of the show provides far more strategy than does Tribal Council. A competition yields a Head of Household who nominates two people for eviction. A second competition gives one contestant a chance to veto one of the nominations before the secret ballot. 

In other words, there are chances for "dead-in-the-water" houseguests to save themselves, along with the potential to use decoy nominations to throw people off the scent of any secret alliances. 

Unfortunately, CBS does not know how to leave well enough alone, and that's where I get annoyed...

Left alone, the show will generate its own drama and intrigue, simply because the format of the show is built to do so. However, each year, CBS feels the need to inject some element of unpredictability -- a "shocking twist" -- in order to put a so-called stamp of originality on the upcoming season. In doing so, though, the game engine itself is often artificially altered just enough to ruin the competition. 

Past seasons have seen contestants "blindsided" by the inclusion of: secret partners working together, identical twins swapping in and out of the house to see if anyone caught on, former romantic partners being inserted into the cast, one player who America would tell what to do and how to vote each week, and last season's incredibly ill-conceived concept of a saboteur. 

The "saboteur" was not in the house to try and win, but merely to be a nuisance to the rest of the housemates. If the saboteur lasted a certain number of weeks, they would win a cash prize, and then, presumably, be removed from the game. The houseguests immediately tried to vote out the person they thought was the sabotuer -- a stupid move in and of itself, since keeping the sabotuer would actually help their chances of winning -- but somehow, by sheer chance, they got it on the first try. 

The season's "big twist" was rendered moot in Week 1, and CBS had egg on their face, and scrambled quickly to try and come up with a Plan B. Of course, no such second option was needed, because with the lame concept gone, the season actually proved to be one of the more interesting in the show's history. Why? Because the game engine was left to run on its own merits and worked perfectly. 

So now, this season, what have the brilliant minds of CBS done? They've promised the Craziest Twists Ever! Yep, they're going to have 8 new contestants in the house along with returning "pairs of previous houseguests." That will either create an artificial 8-6 split in the vote right off the bat (if the newbies all bond together) or more likely, if the newbies aren't that savvy, a 6-vote bloc of returnees who will likely control the game from the outset, blindsiding the rookies who don't realize the power of working together. 

Live together, or die alone.
Of course, knowing the producers, they're probably going to "shock us" at some point during the debut by announcing that there will in fact be "teams of two" and pair up six of the newbies with a returning player and everyone will say that they never saw this coming -- meaning of course that we'll really have 3 teams of 4 all vying for the love of the lone pair of newbies, who will likely be given some sort of "joint HOH" status for the first week. 

Just leave it alone, guys... you're not helping! And so help me if I'm right, because it means we're headed for a looooooong summer.