Fantasy Baseball: Catchers

About this time last year I was setting my sights on Mike Napoli, who had just come over to the Rangers from the Blue Jays, who had traded him right after acquiring him in a deal with the Angels.

Two teams dealt Napoli away in the offseason, but I still wanted him.

Napoli wasn’t expected to play every day behind the plate, but along with the bats he got while filling in at first base and designated hitter, I figured he would hit enough to hold down the catcher’s position for me. Not exactly high expectations, but that’s the catcher’s lot in life as a fantasy baseball player. There’s just not enough offensive-talented backstops to go around. Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball: Relief Pitchers

At first glance, the sight of Craig Kimbrel sitting atop the list of fantasy baseball’s top relief pitchers doesn’t exactly inspire awe. Not to take anything away from the third-year Braves closer, but even the great Mariano Rivera at the age of 57 is still a Top 5 relief pitcher this season.

Okay, I’m joking about Rivera’s age – he’s actually 42 – but the message is the same. In what most likely will be his last season, Rivera remains one of the top relievers in  the game. What does that say about his competition? Continue reading

Obama and the Final Four

The question everyone is asking these days is, “Who do you have going to the Final Four?”

Everyone’s doing it, even President Obama.

Today, ESPN broadcast Obama filling out his bracket from the White House. The president went through each game on a large white board in front of the cameras, coming up with his own Final Four: Kentucky vs. Missouri in one semifinal, Ohio State vs. North Carolina in the other. Continue reading

Year of the long shot?

If you’re like me, your favorite part of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament takes place early with a ton of first-round matchups. The prospect of the little guy (David) knocking off the big guy (Goliath) is what makes March Madness fun, almost as much fun as filling out the bracket sheets that make their way through offices all over the country. Almost, I said.

There has never been a 16th-seeded team that has won a single NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game. Not since the tournament expanded from 32 to 64 teams in 1985. That’s a long time in basketball circles. Continue reading

How to say goodbye

A tape of Peyton Manning’s farewell to Indianapolis yesterday should be required viewing for aging or not-so-aging superstars who find themselves having to say farewell to friends, teammates, fans and an entire city.

Manning got it right, leaving everyone with class, dignity and a lesson in how to say goodbye.

Although acknowledging that there has never been anything quite like it, WFAN’s Mike Francesa today compared Manning’s departure from Indianapolis to LeBron James’ decision to bolt Cleveland for Miami. How each elected to handle their situation, with Manning playing his role as the classy pro and LeBron playing the role of Ryan Leaf, completely devoid of class, dignity or professionalism. Continue reading

Peyton and the Jets

The Peyton Manning era is over in Indianapolis after 14 years. The Peyton Manning in (fill in the city) will begin soon.

As a lifelong Colts fan, from Johnny Unitas to Bert Jones to Manning, it’s pretty tough to accept. But only half as bad as seeing the four-time MVP wearing anything other than the horseshoe.

Like seeing Unitas with a lightning bolt or Jones in a Rams uniform. The only saving grace, from my point of view, is that the Colts’ Andrew Luck era gets underway next season. Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball: For Starters

You don’t have to have a no-doubt-about-it stud in your starting rotation to win a fantasy baseball championship, but there’s nothing better than having one of these aces pitching twice for you in a single week. If you’ve done your due diligence elsewhere, it’s the closest thing to a guaranteed victory in fantasy’s head-to-head competition.

The problem is, everyone wants one of these guys and there’s so few of them out there. In fact, I would put the number at three, as in the Tigers’ Justin Verlander, the Phillies’ Roy Halladay and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. Continue reading

A Dog’s Tale

A story about family and the magic of Christmas in the old neighborhood.

“One Christmas Knight” is overflowing with colorful characters that sparkle on the digital page. They’re composites of family members, friends and acquaintances, all of whom I grew up with in the old neighborhood. Their names have been changed to protect the innocent – or not so innocent. All, that is, but one.

Jake, also known as “The Christmas Puppy” or simply “Crazy Dog,” is the real deal. And, for some reason, he has become the overwhelming favorite of many readers. So much so that Jake has let it go to his head. He’s let it be known that he expects a larger role in any and all sequels.

This isn’t your ordinary family dog. Continue reading

Yanks doing back-handed flips

How did we ever get by without the MLB Network? Just days after new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine made news by tweaking Yankees captain Derek Jeter,  video has surfaced that supports Jeter.

On Tuesday, Valentine dismissed Jeter’s back-handed flip that caught Jeremy Giambi at the plate in the 2001 Division Series against the A’s.

“We’ll never practice that,” Valentine told Gordon Edes of “I think he was out of position and the ball gets (Giambi) out if he doesn’t touch it.”

Valentine added, “That was amazing that (Jeter) was there. I bet it’s more amazing that he said he practiced it. I don’t believe it.”

Jeter’s reaction? Continue reading