Archive for September, 2011
With apologies to any of my readers who are not baseball fans, today’s Friday 5 pretty much had to be about baseball after this amazing week. So without further ado.
Top 5 Thoughts Heading Into The 2011 Playoffs
1. Wednesday was an amazing nite for Major League Baseball
After the Cardinals’ come from behind victory on Tuesday nite, I knew that Wednesday’s end of the season game was shaping up to be something special. I was itching to watch the game with a group of guys, and luckily Dan Fjord found a group over at Miami Wallace’s house. With my man Carpenter on the mound I had the feeling we were poised to win the game and put the pressure on Atlanta. After the Cardinals scored five runs in the top of the 1st inning, the game seemed over before it even started. Carpenter went on to pitch a 2 hit shutout, which would’ve been way more exciting if not for the other games on at the same time. By the 6th inning, Miami Wallace was regularly flipping over to the Phillies-Braves game on ESPN and eventually we just stayed. When the Phillies tied the game in the top of the 9th the whole room started cheering for the Phillies. I loved it!!!
When the Phils eventually won the game and our group was celebrating along with the Cardinals, we eventually turned our attention over to the Tampa-New York and Baltimore-Boston games. These proved to be even more thrilling. I cheered the loudest when the Red Sox were booted from the Wild Card on two games that were won on the final pitch. It was an amazing nite of baseball, as shown by the total saturation of media coverage over the past two days. Glad I was positioned perfectly to catch the whole show. Congrats Cardinals and Rays!
2. My favorite teams made the playoff, my hated teams epically choked
As everyone knows, I’m a huge Cardinals and Phillies fan. And I’m also a notorious Braves hater. So it was amazing that the Cardinals were able to win the Wild Card in a large part because the Phillies came to Atlanta and swept the braves. To me this
Is just as satisfying as this
And on top of that, my favorite American League team snatched the Wild Card away from my most hated AL team. Watching the Tampa Bay Rays come back to score 8 runs after the 7th inning to defeat the Yankees was awesome, but watching the Red Sox piss away their whole season was priceless. All sports media can talk about today is what a bunch of overpaid choke artists the Red Sox turned out to be, and I love it! Suck it Boston!
Red Sox Sell Out Of Commemorative “Collapse 2011” Hats, T-Shirts
3. A historic matchup
But by far the most exciting part of the end of the regular season is a historic first for me. As a lifelong fan of both the Cardinals and the Phillies, I’ve never had to choose between the two in any real setting. In my lifetime, they’ve never both had a good team at the same time. While both have been great at different points, they were always staggered so I never had to choose. When I was a kid, the Cardinals had some great teams in the 1980s, going to the World Series in ’82, ’85 & ’87. The Phillies went to the World Series in ’80 & ’93. There was never a conflict between the two.
And even with both teams recent success in the past decade, it was never at the same time. Amazingly, the Cardinals went to the final round of the Playoffs 4 out of 5 years between 2002 and 2006, and the Phillies went to the final round of the Playoffs 3 out of 4 years between 2007. The only time both teams made the Playoffs was in 2009, and the Cardinals lost the first round. So it has finally come to be that my favorite two teams will play each other for the first time in my life.
4. My allegiances will be tested
Since I never shut up about the Cardinals and Phillies, over the past two days people have constantly been asking me where my allegiances lie. And my answer has been “I’m cheering for the winner!” because I honestly don’t have a good answer. I just don’t know! I usually cheer for the Cardinals when they’re playing the Phillies, but I’ve been known to wear a Phillies shirt to a Cardinals game from time to time. This year I went to both Phillies series at Busch Stadium; I wore a Cards shirt to the May game and a Phils shirt to the June game and I picked the winner both times.
On paper, it looks like the Phillies are going to steam roll the Cardinals. They have a much better pitching staff and enough offense to get the job done. But the Cardinals are one of two teams to beat the Phillies consistently in 2011. The Cards won 3 of 4 two weekends ago, and Game 1 starter Kyle Lohse actually beat rival Game 1 started Roy Halladay during that series. It kind of feels like I’m a Gotham City resident going to watch a fight between Batman and Superman. As a Gotham resident I should be cheering the hometown Team Batman. But Team Superman is much stronger and looks pretty hard to beat. The question then is does St. Louis have any spare Kryptonite? I’m about to find out over the next week, and I’m THRILLED! So at this point, the best I can say is I’m cheering for the Red team…
5. Please don’t let either team sweep
I’m really hoping that neither team is swept because I really want both teams to play well in the series. But mostly I just want it because I have 2 tickets to Game 4 that I can only use if neither team is swept! I was able to pick up a couple of standing room only tickets yesterday, which works out well since my partner in crime and I enjoy seat hopping. Although I don’t think we’ll be able to swipe as good of seats as we did last week…
More than anything I’m hoping that one team will win the series at my game on Wednesday so I can celebrate either way. As such, I’m planning on wearing a Cardinals jersey over a Phillies shirt so I can hedge my bets. Though no matter what happens, it looks to be a historic week of baseball for me and I couldn’t be happier. So let’s go Cardinals Phillies Cardinals Winners!
I’m exhausted from last nite’s marathon baseball viewing. What a great nite for the Cardinals and for baseball in general. I have a lot of thoughts on the final week of baseball season, and on the upcoming match-ups in the Playoffs, but for right I want to acknowledge the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals for their remarkable season. I’m one of the few people I know that can legitimately say that I’ve been cheering them to the playoffs all season long.
From the Cardinals beginning is Spring Training, to their early winning streaks, to their long and trying summer to their remarkable September run, I’ve watched most of the games and I never gave up hope. Even with all of the losses, from players like Wainwright going down to the bullpen’s late inning collapses, I still felt like this team had enough talent to make it to the playoffs. In my mind having proven winners like Pujols , Holliday and my man Carpenter combined with new contributions for guys like Freese, Motte and the rejuvenated Berkman just had to add up eventually. Even with all of the injuries and of the bad losses, I refused to believe that the Cardinals were through. Even when almost everyone I knew swore them off at the end of August after they were swept by the Dodgers and were 10½ games behind in the Wild Card, I still believed.
Granted, I’m not crazy enough to think that my support had anything to do with their winning. But by never giving up and sticking with them until the end makes the victory feel like I somehow earned it. Much like my recent winning season in Fantasy Baseball, it feels great to know that the large commitment of my time and energy was worth it. It was one hell of a season and I’m glad I stuck around to witness the whole thing. Congratulations to the 2011 National League Wild Card Winning St. Louis Cardinals.
Tonite is the last game of the regular season in baseball and the Cardinals are tied for the Wild Card. I’m planning on a big post tomorrow about what a great season it’s been watching the Cardinals, but for today I wanted to give a shoutout to my fellow #1 Cards fan, Counting Steph. Back at the beginning of the month when everyone had pretty much written off the Redbirds she was still cheering along with me. She doesn’t even live in the Midwest anymore, yet she’s been to more Cardinals games this year than most people I know. So this week’s Wayback Wednesday is dedicated to the spirit of right backatcha.
Here we have Counting Steph back in high school rocking a sweet Class of ’96 sweatshirt taking a picture of herself being photographed. I’m not sure who the gentleman on the left is who is intent on not being photographed; anyone have a guess? On the right we have Mr. Hollywood himself, @MortBurke in his pizza delivery costume. And a special shoutout to mommy-soon-to-be Georgette, aka @BKChikSand, classing the picture up in her house crew dress. This pic also features a sweet 90’s illustrated map of Florissant and a Jack In The Box bag from the Jack’s Back era. Those 1995 One Acts really had it all!
So big ups to my baseball buddy Steph, let’s bring home a winner for the Cardinals!
After taking last week off, I’m jumping back on the saddle with 2 For Tuesday to hopefully reenergize my feelings towards a couple of good bands. With my first pick I’m joining the recent media blitz by Radiohead in the past week with their second single, Staircase.
As a longtime favorite of mine, Radiohead has kinda stumbled in 2011. Their latest album has thus far failed to gain the kind of praise to which Radiohead is accustomed. Over the past week they’ve tried to drum up some attention as a guests on the season premier of Saturday Night Live and last nite’s special hour long Colbert Report. Despite two solid performances I still think that their latest album, King Of Limbs, was their weakest since 2003’s Hail To The Thief. I thought the first single, Lotus Flower, was decent when I highlighted it back in February. After months of listening to the album, I’ve come to appreciate Staircase as the best song on the album. I’m not sure it will make my final cut, but it’s still a good song in an off year for Radiohead.
Next up is a band that’s had an off year for five straight. Hoping to catch some of their debut magic is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah with Same Mistake. And for the price of your email address, you can even download the single for free!
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah had one of the best debut albums of the past decade, but that was back in 2005. In the five years since then they’ve released two subpar albums and really flown off of my radar. This track is the first single off their new album, and so far it sounds a lot like the good old days. It will take a while before I can tell if the band is truly back in classic form or if I just want them to be so that’s what I’m choosing to hear.
And speaking of choosing what to hear, if you made the wrong choice and missed An Under Cover Weekend earlier this month, you have a chance to make amends. Tight Pants Syndrome vs. Paper Dolls is doing an encore performance as Electric Light Orchestra on Friday, September 30th at Schlafly’s Tap Room. They’ll be playing around 11pm and this time the show is free! So there is no reason for anyone to miss this incredible opportunity for good beer and amazing live music. I’d better see you there!!!
Last week was super busy at work, so I decided to take a little break from Captains Quarters. But my week wasn’t all work; there was still plenty of time for celebration. That’s right – I won!!! My team, Wild Turkeys, won my 2011 Fantasy Baseball League!
This may not be impressive to most people, but I’m proud as hell at what I managed to accomplish. For the most part, I’ve steered clear of discussing Fantasy Baseball here at Captains Quarters. But a Championship in my first full year of play at least warrants an entry.
Even though I love baseball, it never really occurred to me that I might like Fantasy Baseball. I didn’t know much about it and I was fine with that. I got involved last year through my buddy Dr. Amir in Sarasota. Dr. Amir is a sports nut and a gambling junkie, so he’s loves Fantasy Sports of all kinds. He’s a diehard football fan, so he spends the bulk of his attention on his Fantasy Football team. He also has a Fantasy Baseball team, but it’s been underdeveloped and underperforming for years. By 2010 he was tired of finishing last, so he called me up and pitched me the idea of managing his baseball team. I was reluctant at first, but I quickly learned that I already knew more about his team then he did. So I agreed to manage it on a short term basis. And from last summer on I’ve been hooked.
I was already watching a lot of baseball last year, as I do every year. For the first time I could use my somewhat sizable knowledge of baseball for something other than annoying other people. I picked up on the rules for a head-to-head league pretty quickly but it took me several weeks to have any success. By the end of the year I had managed to take Wild Turkeys from 11-of-12 to 7-of-12 , which was pretty good for a midseason replacement coach.
Fast forward to March 2012 and I’ve spent a good month researching player stats and coming up with my draft strategy. My plan was to go pitching heavy and only take hitters at key positions like catcher and second base. I was also planning on taking as many Cardinals hitters as I could get, as I had the feeling it was going to be a good year offensively for the Redbirds. As I quickly learned, all my plans went out the window as soon as the draft started. I ended up with what I thought was a pretty decent team, but not at all what I had planned. Once the season began I was just hoping to start above .500 and try and make the playoffs. Right away, things looked pretty bleak. The league added 2 more teams to bring the total up to 14 including Wild Turkeys, and about 8 of them were better than mine. I was under .500 for the first month, but I was eventually able to correct mistakes that I made in the draft. The secret to improving my team was watching for new position players available or for players on a hot streak and then stealing them before anyone else had the chance. Eventually I became really good at the hard steal, or what George Michael called the Pete Rose steal.
By August I was ranked 6th in the league and I was still moving up the ranks. Going into Labor Day weekend I was in 5th place and just needed a good finish to make it to 4th place and a slot in the playoffs. But I was facing the best player in the league, and I was not overly optimistic. My iPhone saw heavy use in Chicago Labor Day weekend as I continually checked for team updates. By the drive back to St. Louis on Sunday I saw that I managed to score enough points off the league leader to make the playoffs. I just squeaked in, but I made it!
In the semi-final round I was once again playing against the league leading SRQ Woodwaggers. His team was WAY better on paper then mine, and I didn’t give myself much of a chance. But for some reason his team really shit the bed while my team somehow rose to the occasion. I ended up mopping the floor with him! Now I was ready for the Championship Round, and it was against a Cubs fan! Once again my team had an unbelievable week and I somehow managed to win the whole damn thing. And now, after my first full year of Fantasy Baseball, I am the champion!
I’d like to say that it was all skill, but honestly luck played quite a large part of my win. As I pointed out on Friday, I got lucky with several of my players. But I’ve also been using two secret weapons. First is the fact that I have clear advantage in this league, Wasting Precious Time. All of the other players in my league live in and around the Tampa area and most are either Yankees, Red Sox or Cubs fans. I realized this advantage and let them fight over East Coast players while I scooped up players from the Central and West divisions. And surprisingly enough, my other weapon has been Twitter.1 I follow several baseball writers who have given great advice throughout the year. I put all this together and I somehow made a champion!
Nothing shows how far the Wild Turkeys have come in a short amount of time than the all-time leader board, which I will leave you with. We are the Champions!!!
1. It sounds strange to say that Twitter was actually good for something…