Friday, 29 May 2015

Wembley Memories !

It's been a while since I've written about Aston Villa, and some big changes have happened of late. Paul Lambert tried his best, but ultimately, I believe the job became too much for him and he has since been replaced by Timmy! [Tim Sherwood]. Sherwood has shown the passion for football that once helped him as captain of Blackburn Rovers lifting the premier league trophy under the management of Kenny Dalgleish [and recently stating how he hates to lose] Tim could start to become a legend if he can mastermind one more victory this season and all the pressure would be on Arsenal to retain their title.

The last time I visited Wembley Stadium [as it is now] I witnessed Tom Brady distribute a 45-7 beat down over the St Louis Rams in a wonderful performance in which Tom Brady went 23/35 for 304 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs. TE Rob Gronkowski had 8 catches for 146 yards with 2 scores on the hallowed turf and Michael Hoomanawanui also played [I just like saying his name out loud, you want to try it to, don't you]? The Rams didn't start out too badly, converting a 50 yard pass from Sam Bradford on the games' first drive [which at the time, Patriots fan in me wouldn't let me appreciate, but I knew it was special from the roar], but really didn't get a look in after this due to the Pats being more than ready for the Wembley crowd. If I was writing Ones to Watch back then [look out for that over on UKFirstDown], this game would have been an amazing chance for the Rams to prove they belonged and victory there would have evened their record at 4-4, and could have proved a catalyst to possible post season glories, [I would have said that too].

Before that, way back in 1990's [at the old Wembley, with the twin towers, and this logo ]Wembley Stadium (1923) logo.svg

I witnessed the England Schoolboys play Germany Schoolboys in a final of something, which obviously, the Germans won, although I'm pretty sure I saw a special performance from future sensation Michael Owen in that game. I remember being a young , smaller person [with a lot more hair] believing one day I'll see Aston Villa lifting the FA Cup at Wembley.

Fast forward to the year 2000 I thought I might get that chance, but it wasn't to be as they lost to Chelsea, which transformed Chelsea into eventual world beaters. [Not because of this triumph, but it certainly helped]. A few weeks later it closed and a few years later, Wembley Stadium, as we knew it would be demolished.

Fast Forward again to the year 2007 and Wembley reopened. It now sports this logo.

Wembley Stadium EE logo.png
 It leaves me a little deflated [leave it], as the old W for me was everything growing up !
 It also bought with it regular season games within the NFL calendar and eventually saw the Patriots come over and play [first in 2009 victorious over the Buccaneers, and in 2012 detailed above].

30th May 2015 will live in the memory banks forever as the day Aston Villa finally made it back to a final with a chance to lift a trophy, having already beaten more favoured opposition in Liverpool back in the Semi Final [which shouldn't, in my opinion be held at Wembley] and will undoubtedly be up for the challenge. To borrow a phrase from the other type of football I care about, AVFC, #DoYourJob and the title is yours. In watching videos on the internet earlier, I thought that, there can't be any other option than lifting the trophy, it's not possible to us to go there and see them lose [again], but there is no tomorrow.  It feels like our name has been written on the cup since the campaign kicked off, but there's a lot of hard work to between the lines. They've had better chances to lift the title and didn't even make the final [Bradford semi fnal league cup] and haven't won the FA cup since 1957, it's long over due and if on the day, Villa can't win the cup, I may get over it one day, but if a cup being held aloft by Fabian and co is how the day ends up, I'll never forget it, and I'll be so honoured to have watched it on the television, wishing I could have been there in person.

I've been to Wembley in different guises, but I would trade it all in to be in the crowd to see a potential FA cup victory this year in 2015.

I love you Aston Villa, through hard times, through glorious times, I will always be a Holte Ender. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Fantasy Baseball, Tales of the SABER WAR.... Part 1 !

Saber War is another rotisserie based format and this is also hosted via Yahoo and is a 14 team, 14x14 category league. This might seem a lot but in addition to the usual R,HR,RBI,SV,AVG cats on hitting we also use XBH, GIDP for negative points, Ks for negative points, BB [Walks], CS for negative points and Sacrifice Hits and Sac Flies. On pitching, IP,SV, ER for negative points,HR for negative points, Ks, Replacing Wins with QS, and also for negative points, BB allowed, Wild pitches and HR allowed.

Now, You may remember from previous instalments that I've always favoured H2H because I found them easier to win, and a look at my Fantasy Sports CV would indicate that to be correct with 100% of victories coming in H2H play, but this year I feel more in touch with roto and up until midweek I was 2nd in the league and have alarmingly slid down to 6th place at start of play 25/05/15.

My lineups as of now are C Miguel Montero, 1B Chris Carter, 2B Yangervis Solarte, 3B Mark Reynolds, SS Andrelton Simmons, CI Adrian Gonzalez, MI J.J Hardy, LF Justin Upton,CF Cameron Maybin, RF Will Venable, OF Gerardo Parra and Billy Burns, UT1 Ian Desmond, UT2 Mark Trumbo and on the bench I have Corey Spangenberg.
Pitching wise I have the following names:
SPs Michael Pineda, Mike Leake, Bartolo Colon, Dan Haren, Garrett Richards, Tim Hudson, Stephen Strasburg.
RPs Joakim Soria, AJ Ramos, Jake Petricka, Pat Neshek,Joe Smith, Brad Zieglar, Drew Storen and Tony Watson,

[On the DL I have Jacoby Ellsbury and Austin Jackson hitting wise and one pitcher on the DL Mike Minor - I live in hope he will pitch again ] !

I may be 6th right now with 2322.00 total points, but I've never been more than around 833.00 points behind the leader [which is currently where I'm at] and at one point was within less than 500. I feel good about this league and I fully expect to win a trophy at the end of the season [although 1st place would be amazing, anything less than third will be a failure compared to where I've been most of the season]. It's not as if I've suddenly started losing points, I've just been scoring less than the teams around me. Yesterday I scored 49 points, compared to the 133 by the team directly behind me, 113.50 by the leader to slightly extend his lead and the teams in 5th place and 3rd place scoring 58.00 and 65.50 respectively. If I can get down to less than 750 behind by the weekend, then I might be onto another good run to get me up there again. I will update this story shortly, at an interval that seems appropriate.

thanks for reading, till I write again stay well !

Monday, 18 May 2015

Fantasy Baseball Analysis... Time to panic?

I thought I would take the time to write about a specific league this time so the league I will focus on in this edition is based off of Yahoo, and is called 'Baseball Fan Dynasty League'. From what I remember about this league, is originally [way back in maybe 2006] it used to be called something slightly different, then a series of events occurred which helped to set up Dynasty League Baseball [which I won in its inaugural year], and now we have the BBFDL. In its current guise, we have 16 teams [6x6 categories] with standard Dynasty league rules, [in which we name our team after a historical, or current major league franchise] and we have a minor league farm of up to 8 players at the start of the season. The league is Head to Head based [H2H]. My team is the Colorado Rockies and my roster looks like this [as of Monday 18/05/15].

C - Wilson Ramos 2/$6
1B - Mike Napoli 2/$9 
2B - Johnny Giavetella FA [Free Agent, or No contract assigned]
3B - Pedro Alvarez 2/$9 
SS - Danny Espinosa 1/6
CI - Jose Iglasias 3/$3
MI - Stephen Drew 1/$1 [short term fill in ]
LF - Josh Reddick 2/$12
CF - Gregor Blanco 1/$4
RF - Gerardo Parra 1/2 [Picked up this morning for Carlos Beltran 1/4]
OF - Jarrod Dyson FA
OF - Brandon Guyer FA
Util - Mark Reynolds 1/3 [Picked up this morning, after placing Ike Davis on the DL] 

SP - Madison Bumgarner 2/$35
SP - Cole Hamels 1/$27 
SP - Mike Leake FA
RP - Dellin Betances 1/$10
RP - Jake Petricka FA 
RP - Justin Grimm FA
P - Jered Weaver 2/$7 
P - Chris Tillman 1/$3
P - Tim Hudson FA

Bn - Jarred Cosart 2/$12
Bn - Eddie Rosario MiL [Promoted from the Minor Leagues, but hasn't earned enough ABs [At Bats] to qualify for a contract]
Bn - Scott Atchison FA
Bn - Zack Duke FA [This league counts Holds, no other reason why I'd add him]. 

I also have the following on the Disabled List [DL]
Alex Cobb 2/13 [Acquired earlier this season in exchange for Adam Wainwright, a rare trade that nobody wins] Sorry !
Jordan Schafer 2/5Ike Davis 1/20.

My overall record so far is 13-50-9, good enough for 16th place. In what has largely been an expected rebuilding year for me [apparently, every year of late is a rebuilding job], I'm finding it a lot tougher than I thought it would be, although I have placed everyone on the Trading Block to enable a quicker rebuild process than it otherwise might be. 

While it is early in the season, I'm still only 27 Games back from first place [so if I can reel off two 12-0 wins, I'll be right back in the thick of it]. In addition to Eddie Rosario from the 'farm' I also have Christian Villanueva a young third baseman in the Cubs system currently at Triple A, Zach Lee a Right handed Pitcher in the Dodgers system currently at Triple A, Justin Nicolino, a 23 year old pitcher in the Miami system, currently at Triple A. I'm big on third baseman [apparently] as 23 year old Richie Shaffer in Double A of the Rays system so is a bit further away [Dynasty rules]. In the 2015 Minor League Draft, I added reigning Minor League player of the year, Steven Moya, an exciting OutFielder in the Detroit Farm System, Sean Coyle, a MI/CI of the Boston Farm system and catcher, Chance Cisco. 

I might be biased, but I don;t think the team I've put together is that bad, but I could be wrong from the inside looking out I feel as though I've been closer to winning than losing, although records don't accurately reflect that [can you tell I've been watching Moneyball lately] ?
The only way from here is up , though knowing me, I'll find a way to go backwards !

Til' I write again folks it's been a pleasure. 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Fantasy Baseball Addiction

Hi, I'm Matt and I'm a fantasy baseball addict.

Many people will already know that, but I felt like I needed to take a moment to explain / talk about my hobby.

I've been in some Fantasy baseball leagues since 2007, or at least I've been an active player since before then , although some leagues that existed back then, now don't.

I joined a new league for 2015 called 'The Perfect Game' League, in which it rewards defensive play as well as hitting an occasional home run. I'll be honest, My team has been banged up since the draft, and I've seen Alex Cobb, Adam Wainwright, Kenley Jansen [although this one was expected], Matt Weiters hit the DL [Cobb has since undergone Tommy John Surgery and will not represent my team until around mid 2016]. Now, last week [in the midst of going 0-5] I made a couple of trades. I traded away Andrew McCutcheon [5 year contract] [my first round pick], Jon Niese [2 years], Craig Kimbrel [3rd pick IIRC, 4 years] , in exchange for Carlo Gonzalez, Ryan Braun[2 years], James Paxton [and boosted my minor league farm] acquring Mark Appel, Steve Matz and Alex Myer. That wasn't all either and in a seperate deal, I exchanged Yonder Alonso and Minor Leaguer Henry Owens [whom I selected with my penultimate Major League draft pick] for Edwin Encarnacion [2 years] and Minor Leaguer Noah Syndegaard. As of now, I hold a 119 point lead in the weekly matchup against the leagues' other winless, cellar dwellar. I've made some moves via FA also and that is not limited to dropping players I issued a contract with after the draft [Weaver 3] or picking up Evan Gattis on a 2 year deal.

This could very well be the last H2H league I join for a long while as my passion I once held for Head to Head has wained, and now I've grown more interested in Roto leagues, and in 4 Roto leagues currently, I'm in 2nd place in 2 of them, 5th in the third [although it's my longest standing roto league]and the fourth isn't going to plan as I'm sitting down in 10th. That doesn't mean I'd be looking to leave any leagues I'm currently in, but I won't be looking to join any new H2H leagues for 2016 and beyond [for the forseeable future], nor will it be likely that I join redraft leagues either.
The standings of my longest tenured roto league after the first month saw my team down in 10th overall with 51 roto points [and as of writing this, they have climbed up to 5th place with 67.5 roto points] with a rise to the category lead in Runs, and being 2nd in Stolen Bases, Wins [although in a three way tie for that position], and just a shade outside the top three of Ks [Strikeouts] and RBI.

To sum up, for the most part I'm relatively happy with most of my teams, and over the course of the season I will address each of them to voice my discontent at how I've let them become the leagues' laughing stock, or marvel at my genius as I look down on everyone from the top position. I'm in no doubt that a few public leagues I joined this year, in an attempt to spruce up my Fantasy Sports CV will have to be the first to go to get my numbers down as well to better enable total concentration on getting another Fantasy victory.

Till I write again, Stay safe !