Memorial Day Musings
Memorial Day Weekend has arrived, and with it comes beautiful summer weather in the Midwest, relaxing times with friends, and camouflaged sports merchandise to honor the brave men and women who died in service to our country. Rest in peace.
Perhaps I spend too much time on the web (I do), but it sure seems like there's a lot of negativity out there these days. Folks tossing water at one another in public, Pat's guy Morgan Freeman going down with the rest of the scuzz, most TV commercial breaks are just big corporations apologizing to us, and Justin Timberlake released a new album. Just pure pandemonium all around.
(Speaking of pandemonium, that's the name of one of my favorite Rick Ross-affiliated songs. A menacing, timeless beat that climbs up and down like few others, some vintage Wale wordplay, and a rare tolerable verse from Meek Mill where he isn't yelling like he's locked in a trunk. Thank goodness Rozay is still with us.)
Anyway, here are a few thoughts (musings) to kick off the first official weekend of summer as we await the next set of Power Rankings (tentatively scheduled for June 11 but you know how I am with self-imposed front page deadlines).
Gonna be fun to see the Bradfords and Millers this weekend!
Mike Hamdorf, rec league basketball pal and laissez faire softball team organizer, is set to wed his beautiful bride Amelia this Saturday, which provides an increasingly rare opportunity for some old pals to get together. It's sure to be a great time, especially if I'm able to erase visions of the recent Royal Wedding (kind've a British monarchy buff over here) and appreciate the non-St. George's chapel setting.
Word is that Mil and AB will also be in attendance with their wives. After we all catch up, I imagine things will escalate quickly. (From my experience, parents of infants are borderline uncontrollable when they finally get to cut loose.) I'm looking forward to fun conversation, clinking some glassware, and inconspicuously unbuttoning my pants halfway through the night to relieve some internal pressure.
How about this Solo movie huh? I'll check it out!
It's probably time to take Star Wars movies off a pedestal. These things are going to come out so frequently that genuine, decades-long fans will find themselves "behind" like it's a season of Stranger Things or something. Star Wars is now a giant snowball screaming down a mountain, picking up character backstories no one asked for and spitting out new trilogies more often than Seyf makes trades. There might be 50 movies by the time AB has grandkids. (Already they're talking about Obi-Wan and Boba Fett standalone films. Boba Fett!) The franchise will outlive us all.
Having said that, I plan on checking out this Solo movie on Friday and leaving the theater satisfied but without strong opinions on anything that happened. My concerns are the same as everyone else's — Han Solo is Harrison Ford and Harrison Ford only, the recognizable stars might be distracting, production was troubled and rushed, no one really asked for this, etc. But if you shift your expectations from "I'm going to be amazed just like I was when I was five years old" to "maybe it will be as cool as the posters" and it's a lot more fun. Really as long as there's some lasers and maybe a kiss at the end, I'm set. Pew pew pew!
The Cavs are in big trouble, but I think they can shock the world! Go Cavs! (Warning: Graphic)
The Cavs remind me of the middle of winter when our dog Griffin (RIP) would go outside after dinner and take a huge dump in the snow and you could see the steam rising from 50 feet away. (I originally went into a lot more detail here but thought better of it.) They're a steaming pile of shit, is what I'm saying.
Not even Griffin (RIP) lived to be as old as Kyle Korver, who at age 37 might be the Cavs' second-most important offensive threat. J.R. Smith looks like he's shooting scenes for Space Jam 2 when the aliens steal the players' talent, and Jordan Clarkson apparently thinks he gets paid by the shot. The Cavs are inferior to the Celtics in every way, from defense to offense to coaching to caring about one another's wellbeing. Ty Lue is probably well-liked among his players, but his substitution decisions are reminiscent of 2014 Fran McCaffery when he would legitimately forget Gabe Olaseni existed.
The consensus is that even if the Cavs win Game 6 at home (they will), they are incapable of winning a Game 7 in Boston. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise. But what if they do?!? What if LeBron pulls out another all-time performance (he'll need something like 50-15-8) and crushes the dreams of these overachieving baby Celtics? Wouldn't that be something huh
Even as a LeBron James apologist, I must admit this seems far-fetched. He's already planted the seeds of exhaustion in all our minds, just in case. (Surely he's tired after playing more than anyone else this season, but it's quite convenient to show it for the first time when you're down 15 on the road in a 2-2 Game 5.) But man, what if he pulls it off? I've had about enough of the Celtics being really good without their best players, and I'm plenty fatigued by Boston sports fans having their wildest delusions fulfilled at every turn. LeBron crushing them on their court in front of Sully and Yawkey and O'Murphyhan (I'm Irish so it's fine) would be absolutely beautiful. And fellas, once you get into the Finals,,, anything can happen!
Shohei Ohtani seems underrated
Not long ago I bought into the idea that, when it comes to news coverage and endorsement opportunities, market size and location didn't matter in sports. That the internet was the great equalizer -- you can be a star anywhere!
This is, of course, wrong. Shohei Ohtani should be the top sports story every night he plays. (He pitches and he hits.) But he plays way out West on a bum-ass team. Imagine if Ohtani were on the Yankees or even the Mets. He might be the most famous baseball player in America.
By FanGraphs WAR, Ohtani has provided the equivalent value of Christian Yelich (disappointing so far this year, but still) as a position player plus Stephen Strasburg as a pitcher. WAR takes defense into account, which Ohtani doesn't even play.
His fantasy value might be even greater. Right now he's 10th on the player rater, just behind Gerrit Cole and ahead of Francisco Lindor, but because ESPN lists him as a single player (unlike Yahoo and others) and we allow for daily lineup changes, Maloof benefits from all his statistics, not just hitting or pitching, or his designated position for the week. I think Ohtani's real ESPN value is equal to his actual statistics plus the cumulative stats of the different 25th men on Maloof's roster, since he only takes up one spot. No player in fantasy baseball history has helped in eight categories. Incredible.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is not untouchable, but any trade I accept for him would probably be vetoed
As everyone knows by now, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is embarrassing pitchers five years his senior for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He hit another homer Thursday night, two days after going 4-for-4 with a walk-off home run and a few weeks after sending one opposite field off a goddamn tee.
His season line is now: 42 G, .427 AVG, 9 HR, 46 RBI, 1.186 OPS. As of yesterday he had more walks than strikeouts and as many doubles as K's.
The Blue Jays are being understandably cautious with their future superstar. He's yet to struggle on any level (which for some reason is a requirement for promotion), the Jays don't look like a playoff team, and Josh Donaldson is blocking him at third base. (That Kendrys Morales is hitting .185 is apparently irrelevant.) But at this point, I don't really care if the Blue Jays keep him in the minors until June 2019. Vlad Guerrero Jr. will be on my roster for the foreseeable future.
This is rich, of course. A few days ago I lectured Pat about not giving up so early in the season, yet here I am rostering a 19-year-old Double-A player who might contribute zero to my lower-rung team for an entire calendar year. It makes no sense, but I can't drop him now. One of you vultures will scoop and hold and I'll be left with nothing to show for keeping him around for a month. If the first week in June comes and goes with no Christmas in Toronto, well then you can go ahead and mark me down for 12th in permanent marker.