Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Any1SeenMyDime? The 4th Quarter: Fantasy draft

The start of the NBA season brings new beginnings for NBA Fantasy managers all over the world. For those of us in the Any1SeenMyDime? fantasy basketball league hosted by ESPN, we couldn't be more excited. 
So to celebrate the start of the season, I've decided to do what they've done on ESPN: analyze my picks and my opponents' picks, and give insights to how the draft shook-out. In other words, I'm going to give you expert analysis by a non-expert: me. 
To my opponents, I say: You may or may not agree with how I analyze you...I really don't care. Just know that you are going to lose, and at the end of this season, you will be a part of the mediocre rubble on which I stand.

I was the first one in the draft room this year. I was certain I was due for an improvement when it came to the randomized draft order… but sometimes certainty can fail a guy. I was 5th… again. Now, while I was slightly upset that I wasn’t one of the top two (I think we can all agree that there is a HUGE drop-off in Fantasy brilliance after KD and LeBron), I realized it could have been worse. I could have been 10th. (Yes, that’s a dig at Rodriguez. Ha).

Here's the link to our Draft Recap, you can follow along, if you'd like. http://games.espn.go.com/fba/tools/draftrecap?leagueId=33535

Round 1: Who do you like?

What I liked: Every team actually picked players I would consider top 12 fantasy players. Seriously. It was good to finally see Josh Smith get the attention he deserved in the first round after being relegated to the sloppy-second rounds for years.

What I didn’t like: Didn’t Mike Holmes and Will Harnish have the 1st and 2nd picks last year? Super lame-gay. (And yes, I AM using gay to mean stupid, because that’s what my generation does and it’s OK.) I was surprised that Rodriguez took Kobe. A die-hard Spurs fan picks Kobe Bryant? My fingers feel dirty just from typing that sentence.

What I was thinking: I was actually right where I wanted to be IF I wasn’t going to be 1st or 2nd. I was going to be perfectly content with whoever fell to me at 5. (That’s a lie.) In reality, I wanted Kevin Love. He was projected 3rd pick overall BEFORE his injury, and the guy stuffs the stat sheet with excellent percentages. Willie made a comment that Curtis would take Love while on auto draft, and I freaked out a little bit. I was MORE than relieved to see Love wasn’t taken before I had the chance. Although I did hesitate and consider taking DWill. Even if it was only for a second. But I knew I wanted Kevin Love, and if I waited until the 2nd round there’s NO WAY I’d get him. You’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more about KLove as the season progresses.

Round two is interesting because it gives some managers the chance to get players that could easily be first rounders.  Normally, Al Jefferson, Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol could easily be included in this category. But there were a LOT of new faces in round 2, and I didn’t like it one bit!

What I liked: Team Little pairing Melo with Rondo. I really don’t like Rondo, but I can’t deny the production. The only other think I liked: Al Jefferson and Pau Gasol. These two guys are always borderline 1st rounders, always consistent and predictable. That’s what Fantasy is all about.

What I didn’t like: All the new faces in round 2. Maybe I’m just getting old, but this seems crazy that almost all of these guys were late rounders last year and are 2nd rounders this year: Ty Lawson, Kyrie Irving, Serge Ibaka (really, Mike?), James Harden (obviously theres upside with Harden now that he’s a Rocket, but that’s still a giant mystery… he’s a bench player. Doesn’t any of this remind you of 2009, when Houston took Trevor Ariza from the Lakers? Yeah, that didn’t turn out well.) I also hate the fact that Willie drafted Goran Dragic BEFORE Steve Nash. Are you kidding me? You have some serious explaining to do, because that’s ridiculous. A lot of unproven players were drafted this round. It will be interesting to see who pans out. And of course, Mike Holmes drafting Steve Nash. I don’t get what it is that people don’t understand when I say “If you draft Steve Nash, you will get punched in the balls.” Mike, I was nice to you by letting your brother join this year. I thought we were on good terms. Apparently not.

What I was thinking: Nash was ranked in the 30’s and I had the 29th pick in the 3rd round. That’s when I would take him. So I had to settle on a big man. Al Jeff and Pau were sitting right there… but I’ve never really like Big Al… and I was sick of having Pau on my team (two years in a row). I needed something different. DeMarcus Cousins? Really? Ugh… I guess.

The third round is still a great time to get great players. David Lee and Dirk Nowitzki were once first-round picks. If you can grab one of them here, you'll do well for yourself. 

What I liked: Honestly, I think a lot of these guys will end up being 2nd rounders. N’Dongers paired the Gasol brothers together via autopick, and Brandon picked up Al Horford (who I covet). The fact that Mike Conley and Monta Ellis are grabbed this round is tasty.

What I didn’t like:  That Kobe didn’t drop to the 3rd round like last year. I like what Mike Harnish said in the draft room: “I blame Steve Nash.” Another thing I didn’t like: Anthony Davis. Really Willie? You’re killing me. I honestly don’t see what the hype is about. Yay, he has a unibrow… big deal.

What I was thinking: I was still a little flustered that Nash was gone. I was fully expecting to get him in the 3rd round, where he belongs. Now I had to adjust, and rethink my entire draft strategy. It really came down to Rudy Gay or Al Horford. With OJ Mayo completely out of the picture in Memphis, Rudy will be back to his dominating ways. Plus, I like a SF that can rebound, defend, and shoot threes.

Round 4: Effeciency

What I liked: There were a lot of players picked this round that used to be borderline 1st rounders: Steph Curry, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Danny Granger. If you were able to snag any of these guys, I salute you. I love that Gortat is up here.

What I didn’t like: Ryan Anderson. Not that he doesn’t belong, just that he can’t be my LAST pick of the draft like he was last year.  Nice grab, Josh. I feel like Willie really stretched to grab Kenneth Faried (he claims it is of necessity because of his draft position, I’m just not sure he’s worth it)

What I was thinking: What can I do to piss off Mike Holmes? Haha Just kidding. I knew I wanted another big, and Brook Lopez seemed like my best bet. I have made this same bet several times before and lost. Why is he such a terrible rebounder??

Round 5: Fantasy Gold

What I liked:  This is the round that really resonated with me. A lot of really solid fantasy players were drafted, guys with high upside and loads of talent. Batum, Tyreke, Holiday, Gallinari, Afflalo, Bargnani. These are names I like!

What I didn’t like: STAT. It’s just sad. The guys got $60 million for the next 3 years and yet he doesn’t seem worth it. Guys get paid and then lay eggs. It’s the sad truth.

What I was thinking: Luol Deng has to be one of the most underrated players in fantasy basketball. He can do everything on the court and with Derrick Rose possibly out for the season, he’ll be the man in Chicago. I expect a career year, Deng it!

Round 6: ? marks

What I liked: Kyle Lowry is in Canada, even though Jose Calderon is still in town. ZBo to team Little, who at this point is having a quietly stellar draft. Gerald Wallace feels like a steal here.

What I didn’t like: Curtis drafting Ginobli. With the new anti flopping rules, Manu is going to run out of money. Mike Harnish being “a sucker for Boozer,” as his brother Willie put it. And Tyson Chandler picked by newcomer Daniel Holmes. Chandler is soooo 2011.

What I was thinking: It was the 6th round, and I still hadn’t drafted a PG. Unheard of. So then I looked at the list… and John Wall was just sitting there. He should be back by Thanksgiving, and he’s better than Goran Dragic. (Oh… burn, Willie.) I would know, I WAS a Suns fan.

Rounds 7-8: Shooting Guards Galore

What I liked: Team Little grabbing Scola and Mayo (so predictable!), while Shai pairs Jason Terry and Chauncey. Willie finally made two picks that make sense: Glen Davis and Nikola Pekovic. And Josh grabs MKG. Deliciousness!

What I didn’t like: Michael Beasley in round 8. Mike Holmes dropped way down to grab one of the most overrated, inconsistent, and underachieving fantasy players ever. (Mostly, I was looking at grabbing him in round 9.)

What I was thinking: I was looking for a shooting guard… but didn’t see any that I liked. Then emerged Lou Williams. A PG/SG combo guard that can score in bunches and might actually get to start this year. He’s another guy I expect huge things from. I still needed another PG and there really was only one other on my list: Ricky Rubio. He’s hurt but will be back at some point this season. Hopefully its sooner rather than later. In hind sight, I should have drafted Beasley and then grabbed Rubio in the 9th. But whatever.

Rounds 9-13 Garbage Time

I picked Jonas Valanciunas (coolest name of the draft), DJ Augustin, Jeff Green, Brandon Roy, and Kirk Hinrich, respectively. I was happy to grab BRoy, a former borderline 1st rounder in round 12. Definitely a high-risk, high-reward move. And Hinrich should be in for a solid year since Derrick Rose may not even play this year.

The best pick of the draft was the last one, when Team Little won the Kwame Brown Lottery and was burdened with human garbage/ an idiot face. A tip of the hat to Team Little, for making our draft complete.

As to analyzing who had the best draft… this is a little tough. I don’t think Mike Harnish helped his chances of making his team name a reality. And I’m still baffled by Willie’s early round choices (although it doesn’t really matter because he has KD, and the Durantula will make him relevant by himself). Sean and Curtis were waylaid by the auto draft, and while the Holmes brothers started out strong, they seemed to fade in the late rounds. Josh took a lot of chances by drafting 3 rookies. Ryan, Shai, and Brandon’s teams all look solid… and my team won’t be competitive until Kevin Love gets back from injury. That leaves Team Little as my pick as having the best draft this year, with the 12th pick in the draft! Every person on his team will start and log big minutes. Proof that you don’t have to be one of the top two to assemble a quality team through the draft. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

La cueva del dragón

Saqué la vieja espada
que colgaba en mi cinturón
y al pasar por la entrada
de la cueva del dragón
sentí algo en el pecho
que me paró el corazón.

Sentimiento de la muerte
muchas veces me venía,
pero nunca era tan fuerte
como el momento en que sabía
que apenas de mis esfuerzos
para salvar el amor mío
cambiar el hecho no podría
de que ella moriría.

De rodillas me quedaba
-¡Señor! ¡Soy yo! Y te ruego
que me ayudes en la lucha
contra este monstruo del fuego.
Quiero cumplir tu voluntad
y te alabaré luego.

Me puse de pie y al
sentir los escalofríos,
a las sombras fui corriendo
con la fuerza de Dios.

Gritos. Sangre. Muerte. Eran
compañeros de la oscuridad.
Y del silencio que siguió,
salió la voz de gravedad.

-¿Por qué luchas conmigo?
A ti no te he hecho nada.
No soy yo el ladrón de
tu corazón quebrantada.
-Estoy buscando a mi mujer,
preciosa como un hada.
Ella es más hermosa
que cualquier cosa creada.

El dragón me habló de nuevo,
-Fíjate en tu espada,
verás que no es mi sangre
por la cual está empapada.

Jamás podré olvidar
como la sangre brillaba
por el sol al salir
corriendo de su espalda.
Pero, lo peor siempre será
lo glacial de su mirada
y el susurro del dragón
en una voz muy bajada:
-La has matado a ella,
tu mujer embarazada. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Souper Guy and Kami: Part 3

                  One morning as I was about to leave for work, there was a knock on my door. I opened it and found an unmarked package. I didn’t see anyone in the hallway or down the stairs, and when I looked out my apartment window, there wasn’t anyone leaving the building. I opened it and found a shiny, green material with gold trim. I unfolded it and found a full suit of shiny green and gold. In the center of the chest was a brilliantly crafted emblem of a spoon and a bowl of soup. My mind raced back to five years before as my body raced through my closet, rummaging through old boxes of papers and receipts. Then I found the card:

‘quick’ = super speed   
cheese = super sense of humor
broccoli = green and gold

                  I really had no answers other than the fact that there had to be some sort of connection between that fake soup kitchen and everything that was happening to me now. But, in disbelief, one thought kept cycling through my mind, “Spandex. …. Really?“

 I returned my attention to the package. There had to be some sort of clue. In the box was a tiny envelope, and in that tiny envelope was a small slip of paper: ‘Every super hero needs a sidekick.’

My best friend growing up was a kamikaze bicyclist. I use the word ‘was’ because he wasn’t around for very long. He died, I mean moved. Ben was a short and stout guy with black hair that he kept buzzed. Normally he wasn’t one to commit and could be labeled as your typical fence-sitter. But you put the guy on a bicycle and he morphed into this fearless force of indestructible nature. He said it made him feel alive, I said it made him look like Geronimo. He said it was a leap of faith, I said it was a kamikaze. So, I actually started calling him Kami. (That didn’t go over very well in school since our principal, ‘Old Man’ Mirich, was still living in the 1920’s. It also didn’t help that Kami’s favorite color was red.) And then I literally called him… on the phone.
Hey, Kami. So… I guess I’m a super hero now. Do you want to be my wingman?

Maybe. Do I get any super powers?

Like what?

I dunno. Super strength? Or the ability to hear things from miles away? Or eagle powers… that I can summon in time of need.

No. You don’t. You just get to be you.

Hmmm. I like me… …. So… what do I do?

Nothing really. You’re kinda like Robin. You’re basically useless but you give me someone to talk to. And… you get to hang out with a super hero... and wear spandex.

Can I wear shorts instead?

Spandex shorts, yes.

I hung up the phone and stared out the window for a minute. There were so many things I wanted to know. So many questions remained unanswered. So I decided I would not rest until I had gotten the answers… right after my power nap and quick bowl of soup.

And thus begins the adventures of Souper Guy and Kami. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Souper Guy and Kami: Part Two

Five years is a long time. I wasn’t homeless anymore, so that’s good. In fact, I was doing pretty well. I had finally graduated from college and had a great job in a great city. My apartment was clean and in a great neighborhood. Everything was going great. Almost too great. At work I was known as the witty guy. I had won several ‘Funniest guy in the Office’ awards in a row (okay, all of them) because I really did have a great sense of humor, and I liked making people smile. But now it was getting weird. Not only were my jokes funny, they were slaying people. My co-workers would laugh and laugh, harder and harder, longer and longer. Seriously… people were being hospitalized left and right. It was kinda scary. But that’s not the only thing that was scary. I’ve always been fairly athletic, even though I never worked out when I was younger. I was naturally talented in sports and could always run pretty fast. But I was always a skinny guy. So in college I started to work out. Something happened. I started to be able to run really fast. I mean REALLY fast. It was kind of a gradual thing, but I ended up quitting the track team because it wasn’t fair. After college, it continued to progress to where I could out run cars. Then, it got to the point to where instead of sitting in traffic during a 45 minute commute, I could run to work in 4.5 seconds. What was happening to me?
                  I decided to go to my doctor to see if he could explain everything or anything. All of the test results came back normal… except for one. The doctor asked me if I had difficulty breathing, chest pains and/or a large amount of energy. I told him no. I explained that I had heart surgery as an infant because I was born prematurely. I also told him that the operation was a normal, routine process, that it was a success and that I hadn’t had any difficulties as a result. He looked at me for a moment and then said, “No, you’re wrong. It wasn’t a normal operation. They didn’t do to you what they told you they did to you.” He paused just long enough to see the expression on my face change, then he continued. "Your heart is golden."  I breathed a sigh of relief and chuckled. The doctor saw I wasn't taking him seriously and revamped his effort to make sure I understood that he was being serious. "You don't understand. I'm gravely serious. This is the most bizarre thing I've ever seen in all my years of practicing medicine. Your heart is literally made of gold.”

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Souper Guy and Kami: Part One

Some people say the story of one’s birth predetermines the story of one’s life. In my case, I would say that’s accurate… more or less. I was born three months premature. The doctor that helped my mother during her pregnancy explained that I came early simply because I didn’t want to wait anymore. So I paid a few debts, called in a few favors and made things happen. Not only is the survival rate for premature babies extremely low, it is extremely disheartening. Not only does it tug at your heart strings because its sad, it also damages your heart because its not developed enough. I had surgery on my heart as an infant… and then punched that survival rate in the face. I weighed two pounds two ounces soaking wet. (And yes, I’m pretty sure I was wet.) That’s the same size as a hero sandwich that you could find in any big city, like New Orleans or Boston. Coincidence? I think not. You see, I was a super hero once.
I grew up in the ranching world of Wyoming, where manual labor and love of  the slow life is a requirement, not a preference. I also grew up in a world that wanted to conceal certain identities. Superman, Batman and other super heroes lived their daily lives as normal, law abiding citizens, but masqueraded at night as crime-fighting , damsel-saving vigilantes. (I never understood why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tried to conceal who they really were. You’re a giant turtle. A small colored cloth around your eyes isn’t going to make me know its you any less than I already do.) Like I said, I never understood the reasons for safeguarding their identity… until one day. 
I was homeless and looking for a place to stay. (Because of that experience there are two things that I will never be cheap about: laundry detergent and toilet paper. I pay top dollar for top brands.)  I saw some people lining up outside an old abandoned warehouse, so I got in line too. I was hungry and thought it was a soup kitchen. I tried to make chit chat with a guy in an Armani suit. His presence alone should have alerted my brain that this wasn’t a line for people who wanted soup. But, I remind you, I was hungry, and who am I to judge some guy in an Armani suit? The line moved slowly, as if there was no rush to feed my starving stomach. I hadn’t eaten in 72 days, which I now realize was more like 2 hours because some guy gave me the rest of his half eaten Cliff bar, but either way, my stomach was so hungry. Armani and I finally made our way into the large, gymnasium-like room only to find it mostly empty. There were a few long tables with two or three individuals seated at them. There was a sign that said, “Please wait here until called.” They finally called Armani to come forward and I finally got a good look at what was on the tables: a piece of paper. Where was the soup? I was not going to debase myself and eat a piece of paper… again. I turned to leave but was quickly interrupted. “Excuse me, Sir,” stated the lady at the table. “You can come forward now.” I paused for a second, wondering if the garbage can behind McDonald’s was rat free again, but then shrugged my soldiers, turned, and slowly stepped towards the table.
Armani had disappeared somewhere and I couldn’t help but think that he and the soup were in the other room. ‘Maybe they’re just taking orders,’ I thought. “Broccoli and cheese,” I stated matter-of-factly. “And make it quick,” I added. “Excuse me?” said the lady in French. (I knew French because I once read Napoleon’s autobiography. I, of course, am referring to Napoleon Dynamite, the nerdy, curly red headed fictional character, not the French military and political leader during the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte. Apparently, Napoleon Dynamite’s book sold out in like two hours so all they had left was a copy in French.) “Broccoli and cheese… please?” I repeated. The fake French lady and the two gentlemen briefly looked at each other and chuckled. The lady took out a small note card and scribbled something on it. She then smiled a forced smile and handed it to me. It read:

‘quick’ = super speed   
cheese = super sense of humor
broccoli = green and gold

I was a little confused, to say the least, as they motioned me to exit. I walked out of the gym-like room into the brisk, autumn air. I stuck the card in my pocket and slowly walked away. That’s when I realized… I was still hungry.