Sunday, November 24, 2013

13 Weeks Into Not Watching Any Football and I’m Still Going Strong!

 Well… with a few exceptions on the word “football.”

First my 11 month old normally wakes up at 6 am every morning, naturally on the weekend my wife and I switch off days so we can take turns getting sleep. Many of my single/non-child-having friends and co-workers reply to that information with signs and grief; but some of my child-having friends like Speedgeek know its actually a positive.

One of the biggest changes in my life since my son was born is my shift in schedule; or better yet, my ability to actually watch formula 1 and now also Premiere League football. Yes I said football! Because that’s what its called to everyone who understands physics and isn’t born and raised in America, hah. Soccer as its known in the Us to the other 90% of the world know it as football, and rightly damn so, and waking up at 6 a.m. has actually allowed me to watch a ton of BPL now that NBCSN picks it up for the States while my son and I play with toys.

Obviously my main attention is on my son in the mornings, so I wouldn’t say I know any BPL players by name outside of Tim Howard, Rooney and Jozy Altidore; two of which I know because they are US National team players. I am however getting to know the teams/cities and lay of the land of the league. 

Also coaches in suits, get on that shit NFL and MLB; unless you're going to have player/coachers, get those dudes in some suits.reason #1 they look better... #2 they look so ridiculous when they get pissed off and try to rip the suits off.

One thing I can say for sure is that it simply reaffirms my previously stated GBS opinion that Soccer/football fans are the best atmosphere, and not a single bit of jumbotron or loud speaker system is needed for it.

This was reaffirmed for me by the 2nd exception to the word “football.” Before I said I would watch none of it, I already knew my employer had an event in Dallas in October. And that event involved going to the Redskins-Cowboys game at Cowboys stadium. That was always an expected exception to my “watch none” premise. Starting with the fact that I didn’t care for either team, but also that I wasn’t missing anything else since I was at a work event and wouldn’t have been able to replace it with anything anyway, it was deemed ok.

What that game allowed me to see though, was reaffirming just how much I’m starting to dislike what has happened to many American sports, specifically the NFL, MLB and NBA. Dallas more than any other stadium in the NFL signifies everything that’s wrong with the live experience, a HDTV that’s practically larger than the field itself. So much so that any time I looked left/right during the game, I’d venture that more people were watching the screen than looking down at the field.

Worse yet, after every f’n down they played music or some “pump up the crowd” bullshit that drowned any natural sound out, you couldn’t even hear the crowd be into the game even if they were. The same can be said for a lot of baseball games these days too. If you need to wake up your fans with the jumbotron then they are not fans.

The last exception is happening today as I watch the 101st Grey Cup… Canadian Football! This is skirting the line, I know, but its really not the same game because the difference are more vast than you would think. For starters, 20 yard endzones, FG posts at the goal line, receivers get to run before the snap, and only 3 downs in a possession. Sure running and passing in general is the same but its not the same strategy at all because of those differences. 

I like it actually because there’s no shitty “run up the middle for no gain” plays.
What I didn’t expect here are the backgrounds of the players. In Arena football most of the players are just guys who couldn’t make the NFL. In the CFL though a lot of these guys played in Canadian universities to CFL rules with the ambition to play in the CFL, which is kind awesome.  

I really thought I’d struggle to not watch the NFL/NCAA football more but frankly based on what I see on twitter and hear from friends, its not like I’m missing much. Sure the Saints are 9-2 and I’d love to watch those games, but I’m a fan of sports at the end of the day, and more than that a fan of watching good sports with good fans, and the CFL and BPL are both providing that in great amount these days. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Good Thing Jonathan Martin Didn't Want to Write for GBS

I remember the day we drafted Speedgeek to join Grab Bag Sports. That day, he became one of us. But first, oh yes, he had to endure the toughest of hazing rituals. I can't even say everything that went down that day, because I don't want to end up like Richie Incognito being interviewed on FOX by Jay Glazer. But I'll give you some of the highlights.

- You think a $15,000 Vegas trip is bad? I made Speedgeek get me five bottles of Mexican Coke and a six-pack of Abita Purple Haze. This team isn't free, guys. You gotta pay to play.

- I'm not saying we beat him with coin-filled socks or anything, but we did take him for a little ride... on Mushroom Gorge. I was constantly knocking him off of mushrooms into the deep black abyss, while Wedge blue-shelled the crap out of him any time he actually took a lead. You think this is a game? Do you? Cause it's not.

- I sent him this one text that was basically like, "Dude, your fantasy team is winning a lot of games, but I hope I'm lucky enough to pull out a victory against you this weekend." I didn't hold back. It was pretty rough, but it's what I had to do.

Bottom line, we eventually let him on the ship, but we didn't wait for him at the dock. I don't even know what that means. But now I want some Purple Haze.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

GBS: Fantasy Masters

I just wanted to take a minute to brag about the fantasy powerhouse that is Grab Bag Sports. Here is clear evidence that the three bloggers here are currently the three leaders in a 16-team fantasy football league.

Years ago I played in (and won!) a 20-team league. Other than that one league, I've spent the last 15+ years playing in leagues with 8, 10, and 12 teams. Big leagues are fun, because you'll end up with players on your roster that you would never find relevant in other leagues. It makes Sundays more exciting, I think.

So this year, I gathered a bunch of friends and we made it to 16. Who knew that Speedgeek, Wedge, and I would be so awesome? So let's break it down.

1. The Soup Kitchen (8-1)

Speedgeek's "The Other Guys"-inspired team (I guess?) has been great, at least since I beat him by 40 in Week 4! He has an easy schedule for our final six weeks, playing only two teams with current winning records (both 5-4). Honestly, with Wedge and I fighting for three other playoff spots, we'd rather it if the Speedgeek would just knock these other teams off anyway. However, led by mid-level players like Alfred Morris and Eric Decker, and playing Andy Dalton or Matt Ryan at quarterback... he has to start losing, right?! 16-team leagues are nuts.

2. Blue Star Red Helmet (6-3)

Wedge's very literally-named team has a more impressive roster, led by Victor Cruz, Tony Romo, Frank Gore, Jason Witten, and Le'Veon Bell. He also has Ray Rice, who could always resurface as a top-five running back. However, his schedule is much tougher down the stretch, as he faces four teams with current winning records, including mine and the other 6-3 squad.

3. Haddonfield Hawks (6-3)

I don't have Michael Myers on my team, but I could've used him at tight end earlier this year. That's right, you can see I've made 55 moves to get to where I am, mostly attempting to find a tight end in the first five weeks. I was finally lucky enough to land Jordan Reed, aka Jimmy Graham Jr. I've had a few tough injuries (mainly Randall Cobb, recently DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles) and have patched together a roster with guys like Reed, Harry Douglas, Mike James, and Danny Woodhead. Led by Drew Brees and the emergence of T.Y. Hilton (finally!), I'm hoping Roddy White comes on strong at the end to make up for the loss of Cobb. I'll play three teams with current winning records down the stretch, with the matchup against Wedge in Week 13 looking huge.

We'll check back in after the regular season to see how this all plays out. But for now, we clearly rule.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Former Athletes Who Now Play Poker

It's always interesting to see what professional athletes choose to do with themselves after retiring from their sports. Many go straight into broadcast booths or coaching roles, while others choose a different route completely and head into some type of business venture. Still, there are always some who seek new ways to actively compete, many times ending up on a golf course, aiming for a second career in professional sports.

Lately, though, it seems like we have seen many of these retired athletes moving to a poker table. Likely due to a combination of the fierce competition and large piles of prize money available, more and more former athletes are showing up at professional poker events.

Below are four well known athletes who have recently become recognized as poker players.

1. Shane Warne

Warne was a dominant cricket player and was one of five players selected to the Wisden Cricketers of the Century by a 100-member panel of cricket experts. One of the greatest bowlers in the sport's history, Warne has led the Australian National Cricket Team in addition to Australian and English teams in domestic leagues as well. These days, however, Warne represents 888 poker as an 888poker ambassador. In addition to placing well in several tournaments so far, his poker play has also raised thousands of dollars through charity efforts.

2. Boris Becker

Becker was a tennis master, holding the sport's number one spot for a while. He won six Grand Slams and even earned an Olympic gold medal in doubles. At 17 years old, he was the youngest to win the title at Wimbledon. As a poker player, he played in the European Poker Tour last year, and he won over $21,000 earlier this year in Berlin. Also notable was a $40,000 prize in the 2009 Five Star World Poker Classic.

3. Orel Hershiser

Hershiser pitched for several MLB teams from 1983-2000 and once threw 59 consecutive innings without yielding a run, a record that is very unlikely to be broken any time soon. After his career ended, he proved to be a capable analyst for ESPN, but he has also had success at the poker table, including a $54,000 haul at a 2009 World Championship of Online Poker event. Fun fact: if you're lucky enough to eliminate Hershiser from a poker tournament, you'll score an autographed baseball!

4. Toni Polster

Better known for his soccer talent, Polster is Austria's all-time leading goalscorer. In 1997, 15 years after making his pro debut, Polster was honored as the Austrian Sportsman of the Year. Although he has recently coached soccer and performed with the band Achtung Liebe, Polster also currently spends much of his time playing poker, appearing at various professional tour events.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Last Minute Petit Pick/Pic

Just to go on the record, I think that Muscle Milk Pickett avenges their loss in last year's race and beats the Rebellion guys. Mostly, I just don't think that Rebellion's luck will hold out with a second consecutive trouble-free 1,000 miles.

The track is still damp, though, so the first laps could be hairy. No matter what happens, though, the following picture can't un-happen...

See? We're not the same guy after all. Same barber? Yes. Not the same guy.

Enjoy the race, everybody!

Warming Up at Petit

Good morning, race fans! Race Day has dawned damp and kind of cool today. This being the case, and given the fact that the rain is supposed to be over by noon (i.e. about an hour after the start, or only 10% of the way through the race), I thought that most teams would only use the warm up as a glorified leak check/shakedown. I was wrong.

It looks like I-285 did as I came into town yesterday. And as I type, Bill Sweedler has had a close call with the Turn 10A gravel trap, stopping his Ferrari 458 just before getting beached. Perhaps the risk/reward ratio needs to be looked at here.

GAH! And as I continue to type, Patruck Dempsey has spun and beached his GTC Porsche about 100 feet deeper than where Sweedler spun.

The safety crew has gotten him out now, and are now sweeping up the gravel Patrick just dragged onto the track. The car looks OK, except for the plastic part if the front splitter, which has been riped off. That should be fixable, even with just 75 minutes until the green.

More later. It's time to go take in the grid walk.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Petit Post-Qualifying

The NASCAR East K&N Series is now on track, after a (very) fast (as in, brief) and furious (mostly from drivers who managed to get held up by traffic in a session with only 10 or so cars on track) qualifying session. I can't remember off the top of my head who took pole for all five classes (and, seriously, if you're coming to GBS for racing news, you probably think racing season just started like two weeks ago), but I can confirm that watching any amount or type of racing action at Road Atlanta is an experience that should be grabbed with both hands.

I've been watching races from here on TV for some 21-22 years now. I knew that it was hilly here. I was not prepared.

There are SEVERAL areas where the cars go through elevation changes of 30-40 feet or more in a couple hundred yards. By the same token, the spectator walking areas go through elevation changes that are at least as steep, and even more so in a couple of spots. I won't have to feel too bad about eating a bunch of fried food this weekend, as I'll be working it off as I go. Literally.

What are we going to see tomorrow? Obvious: a bunch of fast, incredible sounding (the Ferrari 458 Italia might be the most spectacular sounding race car I've ever heard...and that includes CART, F1, NASCAR and all the other sports cars I've seen over the years) cars. Also obvious: some very tight action among a wide variety of manufacturers (if memory serves, the GT class boasts four different makes in the top-4 in qualifying). And the Prototype classes might be thin in car count, but they are incredibly fast. And close in speed.

Tomorrow, though? Will probably belong to these guys:

Or these guys:

Time to gloat...I have both front row qualifiers, Neel Jani AND Lucas Luhr on my All Racing Fantasy League team. BOOYAH! 7th to 1st in one weekend, I can feel it!

Or not. Whatever happens, though, we're in for something special tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Road Atlanta!

After living in the Greater Nashville area for two years, I realized that it was time to get my act together and make a pilgrimage to Road Atlanta for the ALMS's Petit Le Mans. $70 for a 2-day ticket and a four hour drive (made into a five hour drive with Atlanta traffic)?

Worth it. At double those rates. And it's only qualifying.

I'll try to stop in here for some more updates throughout the weekend. That is, if I'm not in an awesome-induced coma by noon tomorrow.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

MLB Doesn't Have Time for the NFL

So earlier this year, the NFL tried to bully the Baltimore Orioles into moving a baseball game that had already been scheduled for months. The Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens needed the area cleared, you see, so the lowly baseball team would have to vacate the premises. Seems logical, right? Except the Orioles said no! It's like one of those youtube videos where the bully gets knocked out. No one saw it coming.

Well now it seems baseball has punched out the bully again. If I want to watch the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders this weekend, I get to tune in for a 10:30 p.m. kickoff! (That's 11:30 for Wedge and our east coast friends!) Why?  Because an Oakland A's Saturday night playoff game will delay the process of converting the field.

I honestly don't know what kind of conversation went down, and I haven't paid much attention this week. However, while Saturday baseball could easily be played at 11:00 a.m. or noon, leaving plenty of time for a normal Sunday kickoff, it seems like MLB officials sort of had their way here.

I see this from three sides:

A. As a huge baseball fan, I'm proud of the victory! We rule.

B. As a football fan, I really don't care when the Chargers and Raiders have to play their game.

C. Most importantly, as a fantasy football fan who starts Philip Rivers on an undefeated, first place team... what the hell?? If my fantasy matchup comes down to this game, I will now likely be watching Monday morning football!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Can I Complete the 5th Week of Not Watching Football?

So roughly 5 weeks ago I started the, some would say, crazy idea to try and not watch any football this season. Insane, stupid, can’t be done, terrible idea… all and many more things have been said about this fun self-dare.

So lets go back over the rules I’ve set: No high school, no college and no NFL; or more specifically I just can’t turn it on or any football oriented analysis (NFL Network, NFL Primetime, college Gameday, etc.). Its ok if I’m in Buffalo Wild wings and football happens to be on or if I’m watching a multi-sports highlight show and football comes on.

So with 4 and 9/10 weeks of football not watched, how has it been?

Easier Than I Thought: Avoiding the games.
This part has been much easier than I expected, but mostly due to having a lot of outdoor chores I can take care of on the weekends and also from being on a vacation for one of the weekends. Mostly right now there is a ton of stuff to put on the TV if I want options outside of football, but it seems like my best option is to really avoid TV on weekends, because…

Harder Than I Thought: Actually avoiding football coverage.
I knew football had taken over America’s culture when the Draft became an all day TV show, the a 2 day and now a 2 night and then 2 more day show. Not to mention all the coverage it gets on ESPN throughout the year. What I did not really realize until now is how much its really taken over more than just ESPN. 

Local channels devote SO MUCH time to our local teams, Multi-sport networks practicaly shut down the “multi” part of their name once football starts. Its very hard to be a sports fan and watch sports on TV without being solicited with football at every turn. From this aspect, avoiding football coverage has basically been avoiding the TV during certain timeslots because there isn’t a ton of quality programming out there in the off hours of live sports.

Here’s been one great way this has worked out for me.. NBC Sports Network: America’s Cup, Formula 1, IndyCar and Premier League are all on that network AND they all show in the early hours before NFL games start, which means they help me avoid football analysis/coverage becfore other sports in the US begin. That network is basically the “other” sports channel now, and many of those sports happen in the early hours, I think the only football they have is some college stuff; (this may also correlate to why fox Sports 1 has already quickly jumped past NBCSN in ratings and why NBCSN struggles).

Nowhere Near As Close to What People Said Would Be Catastrophic: Effect on my Fantasy Teams.
I debated with some folks on how hard this would be, and let me be frank, Fantasy isn’t as easy without watching games BUT it’s by no means hard. In my main league I started 0-3 but it had nothing to do with not watching coverage. In week 1 I had the 2nd highest score of all the teams, but played the guy with the highest score; week 2 I had 4th highest but again played person with highest… that’s just bad luck, as this week I’m on my way to victory. I’ve been able to play the waiver wire just as I normally would, it’s not been too shabby.

Bigger Consequence Than I Thought: Defenses and Kickers in Fantasy
The one aspect of Fantasy that has taken a hit is week-to-week strategy for free agents. I normally in all leagues pick up Defense and Kickers on a week by week basis based on who they are playing. Its generally worked well because you just pick up a defense who is playing a crappy team (like say the Browns). The issue without watching games is that I don’t have the best sense of who the crappy teams are. Of course I can see the records, but 4 weeks in that’s not the best tell; and twitter is great but all the people I follow are more on the players or the sarcasm too much to really tell me who is terrible, so for now I’m just guessing that the 0-3 or 0-4 teams are the worst offenses.

As for kickers, I generally pickup kickers playing against good defenses, because their offense tends to get stuck in the redzone a lot. Its not as hard as Defenses, but still a little spotty at best.

Better Than I Thought: the flurry of options out there plus the list of projects I can come up with…
As I said above, I’ve been able to watch many other sports like America’s Cup, UFC, Premier League, Formula 1, Grand Am and World Cup Qualifiers. What I didn’t really grasp as well before was how much coverage these sports get hidden amongst the football stuff. UFC gets a weekly analysis show on Fox and has a weekly reality show, Premiere League gets full on pregame analysis just like football on NBCSN, likely because its so early in the morning so easy to make that space. 

Most of all, I was blown away by how much coverage ESPN gave the World Cup Qualifier against Mexico, almost 3 hours of pre-match coverage.

In addition to that, my house project list has definitely been more productive with the detachment to football. I’m not saying it’s a monumental difference, but there’s definitely been an uptick in what I can accomplish on the weekends.

Unexpected Side Effect: Conversations with strangers
One of the effects so far that I didn’t forsee is how universal (in the U.S.) football really is. At the doctors office, at my work meeting with outside vendors and other departments, in the grocery store, with the neighbors, at barbeques; it seems almost everywhere the top topic for everyone is football. Especially in places where I use my credit card, which is from my alma mater U. of Southern Mississippi. People go from that card right into football conversation, even the receptionist at the doctor’s office went right into talking about conferences with me.

I knew a lot of people talked football, what I didn’t realize is how being out of touch with football games (the knowing of what happened) would affect me in daily conversations when people want to talk about the games that just happened, and dumb coach decisions etc.

The worst idea that I’ve tried more than a few times is tell people about my “crazy” no football challenge. I think 80% of the time I just get blank stares in return, or dumbfounded jaw drops. The other 20% are wives who say “could you tell my husband to do that.”

That 2nd conversation frankly is an even more awkward conversation because they start going off on football and sports in general, and if you remember I like sports, I don’t really do well in sports bashing conversations, especially when the people talking to me are addicted to Kim Kardashian’s life.

Angel on my shoulder: Making this thing much, much easier is that both my (USM) and Mrs. Wedge’s (BYU) alma maters lost in the first week of college football effectively eliminating them from the shitty BCS system. In fact USM is taking it to all time lows these days "Southern Miss football: The nation's longest losing streak continues." Frankly not watching college football has been incredibly easy because the system is so terrible and the NCAA is so terrible (no shock they “decided” to not make the EA sports games anymore. In addition to that, I do get small fixes via my twitter feed; plus I've had no shortage of other sports to watch.

Devil on my shoulder: Undefeated Saints, LSU, Miami, MNF plus baseball, IndyCar,F1, NASCAR, Grand-Am, ALMS and world Cup Qualifiers are all coming to a close…
Just read that above. Baseball’s season is over and soon it’s playoffs will be too. Grand am and ALMS both ended their seasons these weeks, IndyCar will be over in a few weeks along with Formula 1 and NASCAR… and there’s only 2 more rounds of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, and we don’t get coverage of any other region. Sure hockey and basketball are starting but I generally hate basketball and don’t think I can resort to watching the NBA, ever.  Worst of all…

I stop watching football and the Saints start undefeated, and not only that but they have a Monday Night Football game tomorrow against undefeated Miami… and I have Jimmy Graham on my fantasy team and need him to score points for me to win my match-up… and I can’t find any other sport co-scheduled in that time slot.

If football were an addiction, tomorrow night would be my biggest chance to relapse, hoping I can make it the full 5 weeks… we’ll know soon enough…

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Letting the Champion Set the Stage?

So like many Americans, I found myself over the last month or so getting into the sport of sailing, specifically the America’s Cup and the qualifying Louis Vutton Cup. Its yet another sport I knew about but didn’t really understand until a trip to New Zealand a short time ago when we got to see the massive event that is the Volvo Ocean Races.

For people like me with little knowledge of the America’s Cup; here are 2 things I quickly learned.

  1. The reason its called “America’s” Cup with an apostrophe, and even though the competition isn’t always in the United States is because its named after the first winning boat, America, and it is literally the trophy that is named that, just like the Stanley Cup.
  2. The competition of winning the Cup is different than most sports in that the “defending champion” literally keeps the cup and defends ownership of the Cup. It even goes a step further, the holder of the Cup accepts challengers, but the Defender decides the challenge itself; all the way from the location, to the rules and the type of boat they will use.
#1 is interesting but its #2 that seriously has my mind going nonstop, thinking how much more interesting so many sports would be if they operated that way. Imagine if in your favorite sport, the champion got to decide how they wanted to defend their title.

Imagine in the NFL if the Baltimore Ravens got to announce at the beginning of this season that there would only be 9 men on the field, field goals were not allowed and games would only have two 20 minute halves instead of four 15 minute quarters.  And all playoff games would be played in Maryland.

What if Rafael Nadal got to decide that the next tennis major tournament would be on the clay at Roland Garros where he’s won the majority of his major titles?

The San Francisco Giants could decide that all games must be played outdoors, no domes allowed; we’re going to use aluminum bats, only 1 pitcher change can be made every 3 innings, and the World Series will now be a best of 3 instead of a best of 7.

The possibilities are endless and much fun to think about. A NASCAR/IndyCar/Formula 1 champ can decide which tracks the next season will be contested on, how many laps the races will be, and which size engines will be used; or go crazy like saying sprinklers will be turned on the track for 20 laps in the middle.

A golfer can outlaw clubs they aren’t good with, or mandate holes with tons of sand traps if they are really good at avoiding them. Kenyan/Ethopian runner could make everyone challenge their title IN Africa in the searing heat mandating no one wears shoes.

What do you think would be some awesome possible rules some champions could throw in?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Are you talking about baseball?

Baseball sure is heating up, right? I mean, not that I care. Not that anyone cares. ESPN keeps talking about it. But is anyone else talking about it? Does anyone else really care?

I decided to check for myself and took my research to the most trusted source currently on the web: Facebook. Over a 24-hour period, which sport is everyone talking about more?

Now, before I start, let me just say that if the Chicago Cubs were still in the hunt, I wouldn't be thinking about any of this. I'd be talking about it all the time, completely consumed by baseball. But I'll wait for you to stop laughing at that idea now and say that, yes, I'm a sore loser. If the Cubs are out of it by the start of football season (which is like every year), then I stop caring. And apparently so does everyone else.

Football is just beginning Week Three. Baseball is making its push to the postseason! Surely I would have to sort through millions of baseball posts to find anything about football, right? (Imagine the final weeks of football, or fantasy football playoff time, compared to the third week of baseball.) But I guess it first depends on who my friends are.

My Facebook profile is not really related in any way to this blog or my sports writing. It is actually used to promote my indie movie stuff (book, zine, podcast. etc.), so many of my friends there do not follow sports at all. They are mostly actors, filmmakers, writers, and podcasters. Lots of sports-haters. Then there are about 50 of my closest friends and relatives. Overall I have 2,700 "friends," although I've likely removed 1,000 of them from appearing on my timeline.

Many of my friends do live in Nashville by default, but no one ever posts about the Titans, not even on Sundays. Seriously. I don't think anyone even likes them. Since no one was really born here anyway, I think the Titans only exist so that people like me can see the New Orleans Saints every few years. I have quite a few New Orleans friends too, but there were actually no Saints-related posts during this time.

I also have friends in baseball cities. I have plenty of Chicago friends, and I know many live in cities where they will be hosting playoff games. I have friends in Pittsburgh. Shouldn't that be a big deal right now? My brother lives in Cincy and is a huge Reds fan, but I know he's posted a lot more about the Bengals than the Reds recently.

So what did my research tell us?

Over a quick scroll of about a 24-hour period when NFL games were not being played (Friday 6:00 a.m. to Saturday 6:00 a.m.), I counted around 35-40 football posts. How many baseball posts? One. And it was someone laughing at his team. I saw a rugby post, a basketball-related status, and tons of stuff about Obamacare and the pregnant lady lifting weights. (Can she bat clean-up for the Cubs please?) If this were Sunday, that 35-40 number would be tripled at least, but a lot of that is Saints stuff. Probably from me.

So why does no one care about baseball right now? Personally, I believe the new playoff system may have something to do with it. I remember when the Cubs were swept in their last two playoff series and how quickly it all just ended. After 162 games of excitement, it was so deflating to have it end so fast, like hitting a brick wall at full speed. Now it can all end after ONE game. Baseball is never supposed to end after one game. The game is centered around the idea of the series. Our pitching staff will outplay yours. A one-game baseball playoff is like if the NBA had let Michael Jordan go one-on-one against someone as the first "round" of the NBA playoffs. Will it really be fun for Pirates fans to go through this whole season and watch it all end in nine innings? This isn't March Madness.

Other than that, I don't have an answer. I guess 162 games is a lot, and we do feel like every game in the NFL schedule really counts. But teams get into the postseason at 8-8 sometimes, so it isn't exactly college football either.

I know fantasy has a lot to do with it. Take a look at Wedge for example. He is proving that you don't even have to WATCH football to enjoy playing fantasy. He is still active in our leagues, updates his roster, and participates in our forum discussions. Even people who do not like sports can actively discuss football now. The only way that happens in baseball these days is when steroids are involved.

Either way, go Cubs in 2014! I want to be the only person posting about baseball next fall!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Short Tracking - Through a 3-Year Old's Eyes

All summer long, basically since I got home from Indianapolis in May, but even more so since going to see "Turbo" a month or so ago, my 3-year old has been begging to go to a race with me. More specifically, she's been asking to go "to In-din-apolis", which is probably understandable, given Turbo's subject matter and the fact that she was VERY interested to hear that Daddy goes where Turbo races every year. However, Indy is yet another eight months away, and she is still a solid 5-6 years away from being anywhere near prepared to brave even driving by the Coke Lot, much less slog through it after 200,000 people have been camping/drinking/performing bodily acts in it for three full days. And we won't even start on the fact that the Turn 3 Infield is not fit to be witnessed by anybody under the age of 35. Sorry, sweetie, Indy is going to be waiting for you, but you're going to have to wait for Indy until at least 2020.

On the other hand, we do live in America, and right in the middle-ish part somewheres to boot, so there is never a shortage of racing to be had on any given weekend. Knowing that, Mrs. Speedgeek and I picked a weekend (conveniently positioned against the crazy trainwreck that was the Richmond Chase Play-In race, which may have held down the short track crowd a bit), lined up a babysitter for Baby Speedgeek, packed up some seat cushions in the car and headed northward to Highland Rim Speedway ("Tennessee's Family Action Track"!).

The Mrs. and I have done the short track thing several times in the past, mainly to Eagle Raceway ("America's Home Track"! Related: I think every short track in America has a tagline like that...) near where we lived in Nebraska, but we'd yet to sample Tennessee short track racing. Also, while The Mrs. has seen dirt track racing, sports cars at Mid-Ohio and the 2006 Indy 500 (don't even ask her about it...she just remembers that it was hot and that she hated basically everything about it, including the crowds, the walking, the drunk people, the fact that she couldn't tell what was going on after about lap 20, the overwhelming noise under the Turn 1 overhang, and the fact that it felt like the surface of the sun even in the shade. Did I mention that it was a bit warm that day?), she'd never been to a short paved oval. Oh, and Little Speedgeek was going to experience her first race that did not involve Hot Wheels or animated characters. This was going to be a big night for everybody.

The drive up was ridiculously easy, even with a bit of downtown Nashville construction. Even cruising into the parking lot right at 6:00 on the nose, we parked no more than 80 feet from the ticket gate, and hopped out of the car just as the National Anthem was being sung. Oops. I'd hoped to get there about 10 minutes earlier, in order to have a few minutes to size up the grandstand layout and let Little Speedgeek take in the scene before the chaos of cars circulating at high speed took over. Oh, well. As it turned out, I had little to worry about, as there was only one solitary non-smoking grandstand down toward Turn 1 (Me: "Where do you want to sit? Wanna sit in turn 4? That looks like a good view." Mrs. Speedgeek: "No. We are sitting in non-smoking." Me [remembering that I have a child in tow for the first time]: "Ah. Right."), and the program was running a few minutes behind schedule.

We had just enough time to send Mrs. Speedgeek to the concession stand for Round 1 of the evening's dinner (plain hot dog for the Little one, burger for the Mrs., nachos for us to split while I pondered my entree) and get situated to scan where we were. It was...probably a little overwhelming...

...but after a few minutes, the Dwarf cars had been started, and we were on our way with the first heat race. Were we excited?

Yes. Yes we were. Now, I'm not going to try to pretend that the Little one hung in there right through the end of the Feature races, or that she was riveted to every last widening or narrowing gap between cars (I took one or two half-hearted stabs at pointing out cars that were attempting passes, but knew right away that any concept higher than "flag man waves the green flag, cars go fast for a while, flag man waves the checkered flag, race is over" was going to go over her head), but she did pay attention pretty well through the Dwarf and Rim Runner heats:

(Rim Runners being totally gutted out and beaten up but otherwise pretty stock looking Dodge Neons, Nissan Sentras, Ford Escorts and the like, which put on a decent show on a paved, high-banked quarter mile...oh, plus there was a near fisticuffs after the race after some David Hobbs-esque "argy-bargy"). After that? It was a few isolated moments of cheering on random cars that she picked with the help of her pink pom-poms that she brought along, some asking what I was eating ("a giant plate of chopped pork, beans and potato salad, sweetie." "WHAT???" "NEVER MIND!"), and asking if she could go bounce in the bounce house we saw just inside the gate.

Whoever first thought to set up a bounce house and an inflatable slide at a short track is a genius.

It's like a license to print money. And it'll buy any parent an extra couple of heats or even a whole Feature, if you time your visit right. And to reinforce how family friendly Highland Rim is, there is one of these about every 20 feet along the fence:

Seriously, don't even think about dropping an F-bomb. Greenbrier's Finest will escort you out. Or maybe politely ask you to pipe down. I don't know, because I heard nary a "dagnab" all night.

We did stay in our seats through the remaining heats (Super Stocks and Pure Stocks, I think...) until the intermission before the Features, then figured we'd give her the aforementioned bounce house respite. After that, the plan was to get through as much of the Tuner Feature as possible before the inevitable boredom- and fatigue-induced meltdown while sampling some fried Nutter Butters for dessert. Unfortunately, there was a slip on some gravel under the grandstand, causing a boredom-, fatigue- and scraped knee-induced meltdown. The Nutter Butters would have to be "to go", but we'll be back.

The racing was too good, the track food too tasty, and we had waaaaaaaayyyyy too good of a time for there NOT to be a return visit.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reggie Bush in New Orleans: Hero or Bust?

On Sunday, while I was enjoying the wonderful Saints victory over the Falcons, the FOX team cut in and gave us a Reggie Bush update. He'd made an awesome play, just like I knew he would do a bunch this season playing with Matthew Stafford. But instead of just showing us the play, the announcer had to say: "Remember back when the Saints made Reggie Bush the second overall draft pick in 2006? Well, it didn't work out very well for him there, but..."

Didn't work out very well for him?!

I mean, I'm not an expert or anything, but I am a Saints fan. I feel like that gives me the authority to say it definitely worked out well for Reggie Bush and the Saints. In five seasons he gained over 4,000 yards from scrimmage. He totaled nearly 5,000 yards when you add in his punt returns. Oh, and guess what else... We won a Super Bowl. Did he win a Super Bowl in Miami? No. Will he win one in Detroit? Probably not.

Sean Payton, Drew Brees, and the Saints got everything they could out of (a sometimes-injured) Bush in that offense. His presence on the field opened things up for other players was one of the main reasons the team achieved success with him there. In the end, Darren Sproles became a cheaper player and a slightly better fit. But most Saints fans that I know have no regrets at all about Bush's time in New Orleans.

Sometimes the sports media should stick to what it does best: reporting 10-year old NCAA violations that absolutely no one really cares about.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Can You Go A Season Without Watching Football?

Let’s get right to the chase, the megaton gorilla known as football has begun its actual season (note that football never really ends due to ESPN’s addiction to cover it endlessly)  with both college football last week and the NFL this week kicking off… and frankly I’ve just not gotten around to watching anything about it so far this year. No pre-season games, no draft, no highlights, no opinions, no analysis, the only thing I’ve gotten so far are some scores via the tickers at the bottom of screens and a few walk bys on some TV that happen to have had games on.

As of last week, this has mostly been happening completely on circumstance with an infant learning to crawl around, a new house with plenty projects, plenty going on with the day job and many other sports monopolizing my time, but what if?

The what if being the text I sent to my esteemed GBS cohort who deemed it one of the dumbest texts he’s heard in a while. He’s not alone, I proposed the idea or something similar to many friends and family; they’ve all said it sounds crazy or terrible or some even think I’ll cave because it can’t be done.

But, I’m going for it because I think it’s a worthwhile experiment plus I’m hypothesizing plenty positive outcomes from this. First let me state the rules of what I’m doing. This is NOT a boycott of the game of football or of its fans, I’m not about to be anti-football or become a jerk to those who are watching, I’m simply making no effort to watch the games, highlights or analysis myself. If I happen to be at someone else’s house, or a restaurant with it on, that’s fine, or if I’m watching a highlights show for the purpose of seeing other sports and football is mixed in that’s fine.

But that is also what is going to make this difficult, as Mike pointed out, i'm a big sports fan, this is different than someone who hates football not watching it. This is more like spiting football because I'm tired of the NFL and NCAA in general and all the analysts that cover it, but I still like the game of football which is why we watch the game right?

Most importantly, is that football fans don't take this as an attack on them. If you love football and think I'm dumb for trying this, that's cool, but don't take this as me attacking people who are watching football. I'm not saying watching a lot of football is a terrible thing, everyone has their own hobbies and choices of entertainment, I'm simply saying that I watch a lot of football and I'm wanting to see what happens if I turn that off for a while. 

What I’m doing is simply not, myself, turning on football related content.

The Pros - What am I banking on getting out of this?

A lot more time. Of course I’ve done too much analytical thought on this, and surmise that during the regular season (which is roughly 18 weeks long between NCAA and NFL), general football habits look like this:

total coverage watched
just the games


*because the Wednesday and Friday NCAA games aren’t always watchable/good matchups I gave it an average of 1 hour over the course of the season.

There are 52 weeks in the year, 8,736 hours. 18 weeks of regular season accounts for 540 hours. Add in 4 weeks of NFL playoffs including endless Super Bowl coverage and an endless amount of bowl games and I think we can safely round up to 600 hours of football in a given year. That’s without considering the NFL Draft, off season coverage, pre-season etc. Or, in short, of the time you are alive in a year 14.56% of it is spent watching football.

But wait, that is 14.56% of total time in the year, what about sleep, eating and working? Well if there’s 168 hours in a week and you get 8 hours of sleep (56/wk) and you have a full time job with a 1 hour commute (50/wk) that leaves you with 62 hours of usable time in the week. That means 50% of your usable time in the week is spent watching football, leaving 30 hours divided amongst the rest of the week for eating, bathing, feeding kids, church, blogging, reading, chores, adventuring and heck how about watching sports that are not football?

The obvious things are how much my productivity would be up, this and last weekend I built a table, wired my man-cave for surround sound and video gaming, spent more time with my son, and got a ton of other projects done around the house. Not that I couldn’t do those while also watching football, I just had more time for it.

More sports – So I have 2 weeks of this in the bag and so far instead of College/NFL Gameday shows I’m watching Formula One and the U.S. Open finals/semis. Instead of games I was watching World Cup qualifying matches, American Ninja Warrior, tennis, baseball, UFC, Grand Am at Laguna Seca and more sports I enjoy.

Expanding my sports horizon – 2 years ago I spent a few weeks in New Zealand, and while there I got totally immersed into professional Rugby and Cricket. I’m totally becoming a rugby convert and can’t wait to see it in the Olympics, and in time can’t wait for it to take on in the U.S.A. But to the point, spending less time on football over the next weeks means more time for me to pick up these sports.

Not having to listen to shitty and/or biased football analysis – Lets be honest theres WAY TOO MANY analysts for football, the shows even start with telling you their crew: Terry, Howie, Jimmy, Tony, Chris, Steve, Herman, Jay, Lex and your mom all get time on the shows and all they do is say generic things like “I think these guys will be good” and some other dude counter’s “I don’t think so” and then they argue about it; and we watch it again and again. Most of these guys are former players with charisma, but not many bring actual analysis or have in depth understanding of the nuances of the game to really give you any good info.

No time wasted on anger and hate towards the BCS or NCAA – ok so this one is really helped by the fact that my and Mrs. Wedge’s alma maters both lost in the first week; but since I’m not getting attached to any plucky underdog teams, I’m not going to get pissed when the elitist bowl selection committee refuses to pick them for the faux championship game or that they refuse to bring a proper playoff in.

Less Fantasy Stress – the main Fantasy football league I’m in operates moves on a waiver wire, so its not like I’d gain anything by watching the games live. I’ll see the news, stats and analysis on Yahoo and CBSSports because they are good at their jobs of updating rankings and point projections. Plus the reality of fantasy sports is that you don’t care who wins, just about individual stats; the reason you watch games is to see who wins, those two are really in direct conflict… which means…

No getting stuck watching teams I don’t care about due to Fantasy Football – How many times have you caught yourself watching the crappy Buffalo Bills vs. terrible Jacksonville Jaguars because yoyur fantasy player is in that game? How many hours of your life were wasted away watching a game you really don’t care about?

Don’t have to be subjected to endless commercials – One thing that watching other sports has proven out to me is just how commercial heavy both the NFL and NCAA football are. Not to mention there’s always some sponsor that blows their wad on TV commercials and their spot shows during every break. Based on it showing up in commercial breaks outside of football I’d assume the “Superstitions” beer commercial might be a frontrunner there.

I’m not really missing anything that will haunt me – frankly the game has not evolved in a very long time, fans have. I’m not going to miss any kind of revolution that people talk about for years and years because football players, and more importantly coaches, don’t have the balls for it. Let me know when a team quits punting, or goes wildcat full time and I’ll watch. Mike surmises that the Saints could win the Superbowl and I could miss every game, but couldn’t I sum up every game of the Saints by now, defense sucks and misses a million tackles but Brees throws for 5 touchdowns to outscore the other team using our 13 running back system.

You know how it went today, Mrs. Wedge actually turned on the Saints game, I walked up later in the day and we had the following conversation:

Me: "Did the Saints win?"
Mrs. Wedge: "yep"

That's it, no up and down emotions or anger at refs, coaches and players, I know the result, I'm happy for them, but had they lost I still didn't invest the time for it to hurt.

No anger with the current state of football – If I’m not devoting time on football then I won’t be reminded of how much I hate the league, announcers and analysts indifference to injuries and concussions. The NCAA terrible stance on amateurism and the beyond awfully terrible bowl system...

I never have to have a worry about “watching too much football” – Mike and I were once in a band together, and at the time he wrote a song called “I love you but the game is on.” Which while hilarious, is a real situation for many folks, and one I’ve skirted more than a few times with Mrs. Wedge; that will be no more. No other sport gets the oversaturation that football gets so its highly unlikely I’ll watch too much of any other sport to cross into that territory.

And the most important Pro of any….

Because I won’t be seeking out any kind of coverage basically means I have no reason to watch ESPN outside of the literal live coverage of other sports, because as Deadspin pointed out through great research, ESPN only really covers football all day.

Why is that good? It means I will never accidentally stumble on ESPN programming, ever, which means:

No Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith, no Tim Tebow or Johnny Manziel, I believe that alone settles this, game, set, match. 

I'll be checking in periodically to update on how this experiment is going, and if I relapse...

We've been here for years...

The other night, as my longtime boyfriend Peyton Manning began to put on one of the best displays of a passing offense that we will ever witness, I received the dumbest text that I've gotten in a while. It contained this very quote:

"I'm trying to see if I can not watch football this season."

Who sent me this text, you might ask. My wife? Surprisingly, no. She may have said it out loud numerous times that night, but I likely wasn't listening to her. Was it one of my music friends who act like sports are dumb? Nah, even most of those guys jumped on the Saints bandwagon in 2009. So who was it?

That text was sent to me by THE Allen Wedge, creator of Grab Bag Sports and one of the biggest (and smartest) sports fans that I know!

"Screw this crap, I've had it." - Rivers Cuomo/Weezer, "The Good Life"

The very next day, I called a meeting (through e-mail, of course) and rallied the troops. Grab Bag Sports means too much to me, believe it or not, to leave it lying here untouched for so long, so often. The three of us are beyond busy, and it's tough to keep up with this blog. The others have new babies, and I've got a two-year story that involves writing full-time (seemingly everywhere except here) for a period, publishing a book, and then reverting back to basically how things were a couple of years ago. Which, for me, means I should be able to start posting here again! In fact, we all pledged to make a return, as much of one as we can at least.

If Allen is going to choose to not watch football, even as a fantasy-performance experiment of some type, it should be documented here. What is is like to avoid football? Are Monday mornings any different? More productive? More aggravating? Will he miss football, or not? What if the Saints win the Super Bowl again (which they WILL), and he misses every game? What the hell?

Either way, we're back. Count it, put it on the board, circle this date on the calendar of sports history. This isn't something we do for 24 hours in January. It isn't something we do for a few hours on Sunday. We're sports fans and bloggers, so we'll blog about sports. Dammit.

I don't know what you can expect, honestly. Probably more movie live-blogging and video game nonsense from me, hopefully with some fantasy, football, and baseball analysis mixed in at least. I know Speedgeek is ready to get back into writing about racing, and he may have some underground knowledge to drop real soon. (Like Tennessee small-town short-track racing. THAT underground!) And Wedge will surely be watching something if he's truly avoiding football.

It's like LL Cool J said... Don't call it a comeback. But we are back. For good. (For good?)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Farewell to Soriano

Well, once again, due to numerous other projects, I've found it difficult to find time to contribute here at GBS. And although I've been dying to find a few minutes to dedicate to our favorite steroid-user, Ryan Braun, it is, of course, the Cubs who have inspired me to post.

It looks like Alfonso Soriano's Cubs career has ended, with trade rumors swirling and his name being scratched from tonight's lineup. By the time I get to post this, in fact, Soriano could be a New York Yankee. As a lifelong Cubs fan, how do I feel about that?

Well, I've been in the minority. I have not been trying to run Soriano out of Chicago. Up until last week, and the arrival of super prospect Junior Lake, I didn't see the point. Who needed his spot? Are you telling me we needed to see more of guys like Tony Campana, Reed Johnson, Marlon Byrd, and David DeJesus over the last few years? Those are all fine players, but none of them come close to Soriano.

I know. I'm supposed to hate his salary! We paid him as though he were the game's best outfielder, and he never was. Yeah, not my problem. Andre Dawson might not have been the game's best outfielder either (except for maybe 1987, when he was), but I never wanted him shipped out of town. See, I don't care about player salaries. Not only do I not have to pay them, but this game has no salary cap! A player isn't taking money from another player, especially when my team is the Cubs, who have basically as much money as they need to spend if/when they want to spend it.

The fact is Soriano has been with the team for nearly seven years. He is my eight-year-old son's favorite player, with "Soriano" being one of the first baseball words he learned. Despite his bad reputation, we've watched him hustle, run out ground balls, lead young players, and hobble around the outfield on bad knees.

So why has he never been accepted by some Cubs fans? Early on, in 2007-08, he was among the top five offensive left fielders in the Major Leagues. He dealt with injuries for a while, but lately, he has been fun to watch, especially during his hot streaks. In 2011 he ranked third in the league among left fielders with 26 home runs. Then last season, a juiced Braun was the only National League left fielder who was better offensively than Soriano.

But his defense sucks! Really? Because in 2012 he led all National League left fielders with a .996 fielding percentage, making only one error while earning 12 assists. His five errors this season have hurt, but he has not been nearly as bad as you've been led to believe.

Is this a good move? Yes. Lake and others need to be able to play. Also, Soriano deserves another shot at the postseason. But true Cubs fans should not be quite so happy to see him go. His production and leadership will be missed in this lineup. Furthermore, I will miss watching Soriano have fun playing baseball each and every day.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Guaranteed Enjoyment

Whether or not you like/dislike mixed martial arts or the UFC, you can't deny being amused by this animated gif from last night's fights.Fighter Jordan Mein lands a viscous punch... on himself.

The reality is Mein is a good fighter (27-9 and winner of 9 of his last 11 fights), but it doesn't make the gif any less amusing; even if it was just coincidence that Matt Brown dove to take Mein down at the exact moment the punch was thrown. For my racing readers, they might recognize this better as a good metaphor for IndyCar teams or RallyCross race officials.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lee Yong-Kyu

Although the first round of the World Baseball Classic can feature some unbalanced matchups, we have had a couple of upsets so far. It's also great just to have some competitive baseball back on TV, even if I have to pretend I don't really need sleep in order to watch most of it.

Either way, my favorite player so far is Korea's Lee Yonk-Kyu. Lee started in right field and drew two walks in his team's upset loss to the Netherlands, but he is currently hitting leadoff and playing center field in the follow up against Australia. With another walk and a base hit, he has helped Korea build a 4-0 lead as it attempts to avoid elimination.

His on-base percentage aside though, the best thing about Lee is his batting stance. When the pitcher winds up to throw, Lee begins to slowly kick out his foot, eventually extending it all the way across the plate as the pitcher releases the ball. It's half-ninja, half-baseball and creates a second game within the game. Can the pitcher hit his leg if he trows fast enough? I bet he could! Will it happen? It might!

I think we have no choice except to cheer for Korea. The more games they play, the more I get to see a fastball headed straight for the karate kid's leg.

Friday, March 1, 2013

World Babseball Classic 2013 Quick Preview: Pool C

Pool C Predicted Finish: Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Spain

Dominican Republic

Notable players: Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, Alejandro de Aza, Nelson Cruz

Manager: Tony Pena

First game: March 7 vs. Venezuela

The Dominican Republic team was stunned in 2009, losing twice to the Netherlands in the first round to head home early. This year's roster is absolutely stacked and should compete for the title. The pitching staff includes Edinson Volquez, Wandy Rodriguez, and Octavio Dotel, among others. More importantly, Carlos Marmol is not around to mess things up.


Notable players: Miguel Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, Anibal Sanchez

Manager: Luis Sojo

First game: March 7 vs. Dominican Republic

Of course, this roster is also loaded with talent and could give the Dominican team trouble right away. Venezuela finished 6-2 in 2009, losing once to the U.S. in the first round and then dropping their last game against Korea in the final round.

Puerto Rico

Notable players: Carlos Beltran, Alex Rios, Angel Pagan

Manager: Edwin Rodriguez

First game: March 8 vs. Spain

Puerto Rico has a good team, but it has little chance of advancing. It will be interesting to see if there is a huge upset waiting to happen in this pool. Beltran hit .421 in 2009 and will lead a decent offense, but the pitching staff may not be strong enough this year.


Notable players: Rhiner Cruz, Engel Beltre, Paco Figueroa

Manager: Mauro Mazzotti

First game: March 8 vs. Puerto Rico

Spain has never been in the WBC but defeated France, South Africa, and Israel to qualify this year. Now they'll be playing virtual MLB All-Star teams. Spain advancing would be the ultimate March Madness.

For complete 2013 World Baseball Classic rosters, schedules, and more, visit the official site.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy 1,000 Posts!

For a bunch of stat/numbers geeks, I think post number 1,000 is a pretty big deal. I figured I'd take a minute to look back and share our history with any readers who might have joined us recently.

In November 2007 Wedge started his sports blog and invited me and others to join him. I had just moved to Nashville and was trying to get used to a new job and a new city, while also trying to get together a new band. Within a few months, I finally made it over here and started posting.

Although a couple of other friends did post occasionally, it was clear that we would be the main two and settled on the Furious Wedge name to represent internet personalities we had used in the past. At first this was  a place for Wedge to post about racing and the other sports he watched. By 2009, though, I started picking things up. For the first time since college, I was writing as much as I was playing music. Looking back now, over the life of this blog, I have changed from a musician who liked to blog into a writer/blogger/podcaster who likes music.

Of course, the addition of Andy later inspired a name change to Grab Bag Sports. And here we are.

One thousand posts. Sure, most of those are Blogathon related. But still, 1,000 of anything is a lot. And yeah, Wedge has carried this site over the years, but I really like what has become of GBS and am excited about the future.

If you listened to our latest podcast, you'll know that we will soon have six kids between the three of us. Obviously there is not a lot of time for "hanging out" with friends sometimes. But through podcasting and blogging over the last few years, I've managed to meet some great friends.

I'd personally like to thank Andy and Wedge for giving me a place to write about sports, even if I'm just being stupid most of the time. If you have read any of our first 1,000 posts, thanks! I'm looking forward to the next 1,000, and I'm thinking it won't take six years this time.

Friday, February 22, 2013

World Babseball Classic 2013 Quick Preview: Pool B

Pool B Predicted Finish: Korea, Netherlands, Australia, Chinese Taipei


Notable players: Taekyun Kim, Sukmin Yoon

Manager: Joong-Il Ryu

First game: March 2 vs. Netherlands

In 2009, Korea took second place in the WBC, finishing 2-3 against Japan and 4-0 against everyone else. The team will likely benefit from not being in Japan's pool this year. The roster has plenty of new faces, but Kim hit .345 with three home runs and a WBC-leading 11 RBIs last time. Meanwhile, Yoon allowed only two runs in 16 innings pitched.


Notable players: Andruw Jones, Andrelton Simmons, Roger Bernadina

Manager: Hensley Meulens

First game: March 2 vs. Korea

One of the highlights of the 2009 WBC was when the Netherlands knocked the Dominican Republic out during the first round. The roster is mostly different this year, but features Jones, who won 10 Gold Gloves in his career. The team has several other past and present major leaguers, in addition to prospects like Xander Boegarts.


Notable players: Luke Hughes, Chris Snelling, James Beresford

Manager: Jon Deeble

First game: March 2 vs. Chinese Taipei

Australia began the 2009 WBC by crushing Mexico, but then the team dropped the next two to be eliminated in the first round. Snelling had two home runs last time, while Beresford hit .444.

Chinese Taipei

Notable players: Chien-Ming Wang, Che-Hsuan Lin

Manager: Chang-Heng Hsieh

First game: March 2 vs. Australia

The team managed just one run in two games in 2009. Lin, who had three hits last time, made his major league debut with the Red Sox last year. Chien-Ming Wang is the only other recognizable name, and if he makes it to the mound healthy, that will be quite a feat in itself. I expect another quick exit.

For complete 2013 World Baseball Classic rosters, schedules, and more, visit the official site.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

World Babseball Classic 2013 Quick Preview: Pool A

Pool A Predicted Finish: Japan, Cuba, China, Brazil


Notable players: Atsunori Inaba, Kazuo Matsui, Toshiya Sugiuchi

Manager: Koji Yamamoto

First game: March 2 vs. Brazil

Japan dominated in 2009 and will surely compete for the title again this year. So far it looks like most of the roster has changed, but I expect the pitching staff to be strong once again. Sugiuchi did not allow a hit in five appearances (6.1 innings) last time.


Notable players: Frederich Cepeda, Yulieski Gourriel, Freddy Alvarez

Manager: Victor Mesa

First game: March 3 vs. Brazil

Cepeda was one of the best players in the 2009 WBC, leading Cuba to the second round with a .500 average, three home runs, and 10 RBIs. However, the team will miss Yoenis Cespedes, who posted similar numbers and earned a huge MLB contract with Oakland. Gourriel hit .333 with a couple of homers last time.


Notable players: Ray Chang, Jiangang Lu

Manager: John McLaren

First game: March 3 vs. Japan

China was shut out twice in three games in 2009, finishing 1-2. Chang is a decent minor leaguer, while Lu allowed just one run in 5.1 innings in his last WBC start. Royals pitcher Bruce Chen apparently provided enough documentation to pitch for China this year after playing for Panama in the last two Classics. However, he has now backed out and will remain with Kansas City for Spring Training.


Notable players: Paulo Orlando, Leonardo Reginatto, Rafael Fernandes

Manager: Barry Larkin

First game: March 2 vs. Japan

Brazil wasn't in the 2009 WBC field and will have a tough time advancing past the first round in 2013. The roster includes a couple of players who were born after I started college (Class of '95!), so things could be headed in the right direction. Unless Coach Larkin is suiting up, however, I expect the team to see a quick exit.

For complete 2013 World Baseball Classic rosters, schedules, and more, visit the official site.