Friday, August 26, 2005

These Thoughts, They Just Come...
By Zach

So since it's a boring Friday afternoon here at work, I suppose I could pass along a few bits of something or other:

I've long suspected that kickers have the easiest job in sports. I've told Ben numerous times that I plan to raise any sons I have to be kickers, since if they're any good there's a decent chance they'll at least play D-1 football. Well, ESPN's David Fleming has merely confirmed my suspicions.

King Felix takes the mound for his fifth start today, as he takes on the Chicago White Sox in Seattle. Clearly, anyone who reads this blog knows how I feel about him. But I'm not the only one. Bodhizefa over at The Short Porch did some deep statistical analysis showing that Felix is the best pitcher from at least the last 35 years. Now, I'm not sure even I'd go that far, at least in the sense that I'm not going to claim that he'll surpass a guy like Roger Clemens, but I do agree that as far as the raw tools of a pitcher go, he's without peer. Dave Cameron on USS Mariner recently posted several potential projections of Felix's 2006 season, and the astounding thing is that even if he struggles, he still projects out to one of the best pitchers in the AL. By the end of the year, we should have a pretty decent grasp of his ability, since his remaining starts this year (assuming he starts every fifth game, as the Mariners have said he will) will be today vs. Chicago, home against the Yankees (with Randy Johnson scheduled to start opposite him), at Oakland, home against Baltimore, at Texas, at Toronto, home against Texas, and home against Oakland in the final game of the year. The chances are decent that they might not have him make that final start, but even so he'll get a chance to show what he can do against more talented offensive teams.

Look, I enjoy fantasy football as much as the next guy, but I think things have gone too far. Yesterday, ESPN had a 90-minute Fantasy Draft, which looked just like the regular NFL draft except instead of the Cincinnati Bengals making ridiculous picks, you have Suzy Kolber taking Brett Favre in the first round. I barely watched any of it, because while I play fantasy football, I don't live it. I find it a nice complement to the NFL season which keeps me somewhat informed on what's going on around the league. But I'll never confuse the two, and never would I root for a guy on my fantasy team to the detriment of my team. People who do that don't get to call themselves sports fans.

The return of the NFL does mean the return of my absolute favorite sports columnist, Gregg Easterbrook, aka the Tuesday Morning Quarterback. It's from TMQ that I learned several immutable football facts, like one should never blitz on third-and-long, or that rookie holdouts only hurt their future earning power. Do yourself a favor and check out his archive.

The AL Wild Card race is going to be crazy, but since I dislike both the Yankees and Athletics, I guess I'm pulling for the Tribe. Maybe they should sign Willie Mays Hayes for the stretch run.

If the AL Wild Card race is going to be crazy, the NL Wild Card race is madness on an unprecedented scale. I'll leave it to Ben to do the breakdown, but I do have to think that the best team in that race is the Marlins, if only because they've got three pitchers who can win a heap of games on their own.

Lastly, the Sonics just announced that they're matching the offer sheet the T-Wolves extend towards Damien Wilkins. Here's my take on the Omen. I think this is a safe move with, in Hubie Brown terms, tremendous upside potential. Worst case scenario, Wilkins remains a tough perimeter defender with questionable offensive skills, while best case scenario he develops as a shooter and couples that defensive ability and raw athleticism with some polished skills. In the former cse, he's maybe slightly overpaid, while in the latter he's a steal. Works for me.


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