Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Swimming With the Shark Part 2

Part 2 of my conversation with Club Trillion co-founder and writer, Mark Titus. In case you missed yesterday’s first part, the link is here

Attic Fan: It must have been pretty cool as well for a sportswriter of Simmons' stature to want to talk to you on his podcast. He is probably one of the biggest influences in sportswriting today, and that is evident in columns that we wrote in August (I wrote a 10 Levels of Being Athlete column on August 25, and you had written a 10 Levels of Fame column on August 19th. Swear to God, I hadn't read your column up until that time. I actually thought you had stolen the idea from me until A) I realized that it looks like that I was the one who stole the idea and B) Even if the column you had written was written after me, there was a 0.0001% chance that you had ever seen/heard of my column. Anyway, we both saw his 13 Levels of Losing column).

To have one your biggest influences continually ask you on his podcast must be a pretty big deal, am I wrong? What has it been like to rub elbows with guys on ESPN, especially since it sounds like this was unimaginable at the beginning of your blog?

Mark Titus:Yeah it's definitely crazy to think about. I came to Ohio State to study math, go to med school, and not play basketball, and by the end of my four years, some people suggested that I was the most popular guy on our team even though we had the POY. I disagree that I was the most popular, but the fact that it was even suggested is pretty nuts. As things have progressed, I've kinda learned to just take things in stride because when I get too excited about stuff, I usually end up making a fool out of myself. By now, I'm pretty much used to everything, but when I take a step back and realize how I got to where I am, it's pretty unbelievable, especially considering that doing these kinds of things (national interviews, "rubbing elbows" with celebrities, etc) was never my intention when I started the blog.

AF:Going back to the whole "rubbing elbows" deal, what is it like to now (within the last week really) be writing college basketball columns for ESPN? Other than the insider cost I am too cheap to pay, your fans must be ecstatic with the news that are now writing for probably the most well-known sports media organization in the world. When did you know that you would be contributing to ESPN, and is this the way that you see the "Club Trillion" blog evolving in the future?

MT: It's obviously a lot different from writing my blog because I don't have the freedom I usually have, but the general idea of writing for ESPN is pretty awesome. They approached me this summer about contributing some stuff during the basketball season, and I agreed I'd do it, mostly because it's ESPN, but also because it gives me a chance to try something different. Most of the fans were pretty excited about it, because it's not just that I'm writing for ESPN - it's that a benchwarmer managed to turn a negative into a positive and ultimately ended up writing for the worldwide leader in sports. It's not so much a win for me as it is a win for benchwarmers in general, and that's probably the coolest part of it all. Just being an example that benchwarmers are usually the coolest guys on basketball teams is rewarding enough for me.
As for the future, I still plan to keep my blog going but I'm trying to make it more about the walk-ons around the country rather than about myself. There are tons of guys who have similar stories as me and I think it would be cool to give them a chance to tell some of their stories. I'll still write most of the material on the blog, but hopefully I can open it up a little bit and give fans some different perspectives.

AF: I like the idea of adding the other walk-ons to the site, because you are definitely going to get more perspectives. You could get guys who maybe are frustrated with their role as a walk-on, and give them a chance to air their grievances. You could also get guys who are maybe even legitimately contributing to their team's basketball success, the way Lee Melchione did for those mid-2000 Duke teams. That is probably the best way for your blog to go, since the core idea of Club Trillion should still stay relevant even as you are out of college. That is the perspective of the walk-on or the 13th man.

Switching gears here, I am offering you a rare opportunity. Here at the Attic Fan we, (meaning me) are hugh LOST fans. You are too. I want you to give your take on the series finale, something you have not gotten to do on your blog. Odds are, ESPN would not be too pumped about you giving your take on a series that ended 4 months ago. Where would you place LOST in the illustrious "Greatest TV Shows of All-Time" list. Did it annoy you the way it did myself, when people would ask you what LOST is about? Because I always sounded like a mentally insane person when I tried. "Uh, there's like time travel and a guy who is 500 years old who keeps coming in visions to a big fat guy. Also there is a now a magic river where humanity's goodness comes from".

MT: Yeah, I'd feel more comfortable explaining the electoral college to 7-year-olds than explaining LOST to anybody. Even though it's confusing as crap, I still think it's gotta be one of the top 5-10 dramas ever. The only reason I can't give it #1 is because it didn't answer enough questions for me. I'm all for leaving some questions unanswered and leaving the audience to inteJULIET VS KATErpret things, but they didn't tie up enough loose ends for me. Every time I think I've got a solution to what LOST was about, somebody brings up something that contradicts my theory. Oh, and the other reason I can't give it #1 is because Kate was labeled as the babe of the show, even though Juliet was clearly much more attractive. That's inexcusable.

AF: I kind of feel as if I re-watch the entire series, I would have a better understanding of what went on. But I do not have a the free time or brain cells available to watch all 6 season without committing some kind of confusion-caused homicide. I will freak out when I see the seasons that were committed to the Dharma Initiative, since in the end of the series, the Dharma Intiative serves no real purpose. I would probably end up throwing things at my TV. There is the Dharma Initiative, Walt, and the whole pregnant women subplot that would probably end up making me really angry, just because they are totally irrelevant to the story as a whole.

As far as Kate is concerned, what?! No matter how bad an actress Evangeline Lilly was, she at least had her looks. I like Juliet a lot, but I thought Kate had her beat pretty easily. I even thought Claire was in the running, until she went bats--t crazy in season 6 and began to look like a Rastafarian.

When you say LOST is in the 5-10 range for best drama, what do you think was the best drama? The best comedy? (Although I think I know the answer for best comedy).

MT: I'm sticking with my guns here. Juliet was smoking. Kate had her moments, but if I'm stuck on a deserted island that isn't quite as deserted as I originally thought and has some sort of weird magnetic properties, I'm making a play for Juliet.

As far as my favorite shows of all-time, I really think Jersey Shore might be both my favorite comedy and drama ever. But since most people don't consider it to be either of those, I'll have to go with something else I guess. The best comedy is definitely Seinfeld, not only because it was a huge commercial success, but also because it is easily the most rewatchable comedy series ever. That one's a no-brainer.

Drama, on the other hand, is tricky. I really don't watch a lot of dramas cause I enjoy laughing a lot more than trying to figure out why polar bears are on tropical islands or why all of the other doctors always think House is crazy when he diagnoses a disease, even though he's been right the last 243 times they have doubted him. With that being said, I think The Sopranos has to be considered the #1 drama, even though Mad Men and The Wire are making a strong case. Also, let the record show that I don't think VIP starring Pam Anderson gets the credit it deserves. I remember thinking that show was awesome when I was...just hitting puberty. Oh, well no wonder I loved it so much. Nevermind, forget I said anything.

AF: Seinfeld is one of the series that just really ages well for some reason, although all the plot lines probably could have been solved in a matter of minutes if they all had cell phones. People relate to it really well, but it is so exaggerated and over-the-top that it doesn't remind people of their dull lives too much, which is important. People want to see stuff they are familiar with but not too familiar with, if that makes any sense. It doesn't. I just got into Seinfeld pretty recently because they re-run it constantly, and me and one of my friends spend most of our English class talking and yelling like the Costanzas. It is still relevant today, and that is the only example I can provide.

As far as drama's go, it really is the case that you cannot have a successful network drama anymore. It just isn't possible because none of the major networks would ever take a chance on a show about an advertising agency, or a show about ghetto Baltimore. Instead, the public is stuck thinking that Glee is a great show (For my money, I have to take LOST just because I was so emotionally invested in it. And shows like The Sopranos and The Wire were just before my time. That is weird to say since they were early 2000's)

And VIP sounds great. Wikipedia's plot line for it was: Anderson stars as Vallery Irons, a woman who accidentally saves a celebrity and then is hired by a real bodyguard agency as a famous figurehead while the rest of the agency's professionals work to solve cases.

That sounds so ridiculous it looks great.

Moving towards another form of entertainment, you are working on a book about your career at Ohio State. How far along is that, and when should we see this in bookshelves? Will there be any shocking, Reggie Bush-esque revelations that you couldn't say on your blog in college because the NCAA would s--t a chicken?

MT: I wanted to put the book on hold for a little bit until I got a deal signed, so there hasn't been a lot written yet. However, I'm probably going to sign a contract within the next week or two, so I'll get to writing it relatively soon. I originally wanted it to come out this March, but my publisher wants to push it back a year and have it out next March. It's going to be awhile, I know, but that will hopefully give me a lot of time to put together the best book I possibly can. In other words, it will give me a lot of time to make sure I have all the juicy stories from my four years in the book. Rest assured, I won't leave out anything that's even remotely entertaining.

AF: Well, at least the book does sounds like it is going to come out eventually, which is always good. Do you have any final thoughts before we end this? Eastbound and Down? Greg Oden? Politics?

MT: Yes. I'm ready for these midterm elections to get over with. I can't even watch Oprah anymore without being bombarded with ridiculous political ads. Don't these people realize that it's her farewell season? She deserves better than this.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Swimming With the Shark

I have been reading for some time now this sports blog called Club Trillion. Co-founded and written by former Ohio State basketball player Mark “The Shark” Titus, Club Trillion chronicles the life that is a walk-on Division 1 player. I have been a huge fan of this guy, and cannot say enough nice things about him since he took a chance and decided to let me “interview” him. In case you haven’t noticed, I have about 35 fans (and growing!) so this is a huge deal. Imagine my surprise when I got a response back from an email I sent to him, inquiring about doing some kind of column. His response:

Let's do it. I've actually got a lot on my plate this weekend/upcoming week as I'm trying to finish up a bunch of freelance things I'm working on, but if you email me next weekend/Friday, we can make it happen.


In the midst of a Yankee October collapse, this was a bright spot. A chance to talk with one of the biggest names in sports blogging today is an opportunity I couldn’t miss. In Part I, me and Mark talk about Jersey Shore, Evan Turner, and becoming a national celebrity. Yes, I thought of the title myself.

The Attic Fan: I am going to start off with a pretty big first question. Just from reading your column, I know you reference Jersey Shore a lot and are a pretty big fan, so I have to get your opinions on a few things:
1) Your thoughts on Thursday's season finale.

2) Where do you think the show goes from here.

3) How dominant you think JWOWW is going to be as a professional wrestler: JWOWW Wrestling Debut. I mean apparently she won her first match, but do you think she just takes the sport of professional wrestling by storm? You have been a huge pro wrestling fan your entire life, so do you think this is good or bad for the sport? Or did pro wrestling jump the shark 25 years ago, and the fact that a wrestling league named TNA has signed JWOWW (a 2nd-tier Jersey Shore character), does not really matter in the whole spectrum of civilized life?

Mark Titus: 1) The finale was a pretty fitting conclusion to the season in that it featured a Ronnie and Sammi fight as well as a fight among the other cast members that made no sense to me. I rarely ever had any idea what the cast was fighting about during the entire season and this episode was no different. Plus, the finale reinforced the fact that Pauly and Vinny went soft by falling in love all season. By the end of the finale, I was left confused and hating myself for watching the show, which is pretty much a standard reaction for me after every episode, so I thought it was perfect.

2) I really don't know where the show can go from here. If I were running the show, my first move would be to get rid of Ronnie and Sammi ASAP and throw as much money as I can at Angelina to get her to come back. Ron and Sam have always been annoying, but they were at least entertaining in the past. Now they are just annoying, so I'd get rid of them. Angelina makes the show infinitely more entertaining to me. She's the scum of the house, which is amplified when you consider that the people in the house are the scum of society. So this makes her quite possibly the most worthless human being on the planet. In other words, she might be the greatest reality show star ever.

3) No, this doesn't matter one bit in the spectrum of civilized life, but if you watch Jersey Shore and professional wrestling you can't really consider yourself a part of civilized life anyway. I actually think she might struggle in pro wrestling, because I can't see her ever cooperating and being willing to lose. She's more suited for MMA or something that will let her just beat the snot out of other girls. Ya know, something like a reality show on MTV.

AF: Yeah, I would have to agree with the Angelina comment. Once she left the house, it really seemed like the producers were reaching into their Big Bag O' Plot Lines, and had to start revisiting the whole Ron & Sam issue, which started to get old after episode one. I think she just burned way too many bridges when she left the house. The only thing I wished the producers had touched on in the finale is why The Situation's face started to look like a catcher's mitt. When that random girl called him an "Old Man", I was almost taken by surprise, since no other cast members (especially Angelina) ever touched on this. Sitch is a almost 30 years old and hanging with kids who should be in their senior year of college.

As far as next season is considered, I think Jersey Shore has just had its "Cousin Oliver" moment, since they decided to sign (or however they get these people) Snooki's best friend onto the show. I think the show just goes off the deep end next year. I am from Jersey and I have friends who have seen the castmates at clubs and around Seaside. It is insane. They are not only being hounded by MTV cameras, but also the "fans". There is no sense of reality with this show, since they are, as much as this pains me to say it, celebrities.

And I can easily see JWOWW give Brock Lesnar a run for his money. Okay, not really, but she would go five rounds.

Speaking of highly-talked about prospects who have fallen on their face as of late, how much joy are you getting out of the fact that Evan "The Villain" Turner is already being called a "bust" by some NBA insiders?

MT: The character version of me that's portrayed on my blog is obviously loving that The Villain might have to go through a benchwarming phase because he spent three years at Ohio State talking down to benchwarmers. But the real me thinks that the "bust" label is a little premature. The Villain has never been very good at adapting to change, which is why him and I got into scuffles in practice so often during his freshman year. He goes into new surroundings with a chip on his shoulder and it takes him awhile to settle in. My guess is that he'll struggle a little bit this year (kinda like his freshman year), will play much better next year and start to come into his own, and then will have a huge breakout year where he becomes the face of the 76ers in his third year. Then again, that might not happen at all. What do I know? I'm just basing this pattern solely on the fact that a similar thing happened with his three years at Ohio State.

AF: I like the use of saying you have a "character" version of yourself. Kind of makes you sound like a basketball playing Stephen Colbert.

I would have to agree with you when you talk about Turner's inability to change immediately. When you heard reports from the Vegas Summer League and the beginning of the NBA Preseason, they were filled with things like "Turner is a step slow" and "Turner is turning the ball over profusely". I am not sure about the first one, but he was turning the ball over too much, and that seems like he is having a little trouble adapting to the NBA. Just the other day, he had a double-double, so maybe things are beginning to change. It is hard for me to see a guy who almost averaged a triple double in college struggling this mightly in the pros.

I also think Philly is using him wrong. Wouldn't Turner's size and knack for rebounding the ball have him better suited for a small forward? Instead, Philly is using him as a backup shooting guard to Andre Iguodala. Jason Kapono (6 teams in 7 years, 5.5 40 speed) is playing small forward. It just doesn't make sense.

When you speak of yourself as a benchwarmer in college, did you ever think to yourself, "Man, I should be out there", because in your blog, it seemed like playing basketball wasn't of an enormous deal to you. One just has to watch the Mr. Rainmaker video to see that you have some shooting props. You were a great high school player. Did you ever feel angry that you weren't getting playing time? You were getting great writing material out of not playing, but did the basketball player in you ever wish that wasn't the case?

MT: The Villain definitely needs the ball in his hands and with a 24 second shot clock in the league, if he's not playing PG, he's going to have a tendency to force things when he does get his touches. SF is probably his natural position, but after last season when he played PG and ran the show, I really think he's got his heart set on sticking with that and trying to take what he did last year in college and make a similar thing happen in the NBA.

As for the playing time thing, starting my blog was my way of kinda saying that I gave up on the dream. I busted my balls for two years to become as good of a player as I possibly could, and once I realized that there just wasn't any way I was going to get playing time, I decided to completely change my approach and just try to have as much fun as possible with my last two years. Don't get me wrong, I still tried hard in practice and wanted to be good at basketball, but I realized that Coach Matta isn't fond of playing walk-ons so instead of beating myself up over not being good enough, I decided to have fun with it because I was doing something that tons of people wish they had the opportunity to do. Once I figured that out, I felt like I owed it to myself to just enjoy the experience as much as possible because it would be selfish of me to get upset when I'm on one of the best college basketball teams in the country.

AF:That probably is the best thing that you could have done in your position. When I was in 5th grade, nothing frustrated me more than playing for one minute on my travel team. I would come in, drain a shot from the top of the key, then walk back to the bench. I went 1000% in practice, but I never seemed to have any fun from it. In retrospect, I wish that your blog was around 6 years ago, so I would have had more fun and not think that not playing in a game against Montgomery Township in a smelly middle school gym was the end of the world. I would have learned to love basketball and all it throws at players.

Speaking of your blog, what was the moment when you knew that it was going to be a huge success? What was your big breakthrough moment, the moment(s) that got you attention on a national level?

MT: I never really cared how many people read my blog or how much attention it got by the media. When I started doing it, it was just a way for me to tell my family and friends what was going on with the basketball team. But after Bill Simmons emailed me to come on his podcast, I knew things were about to blow up.

It's funny looking back because I actually didn't get all that much local media attention before I went on Simmons podcast. I think one writer in Columbus just mentioned in his blog that I had started a blog of my own and other than that, there was nothing. But after I went on the podcast, I got all sorts of interview requests from all over the country. I went from having something like 250 page hits per day to something like 45,000 page hits per day for about two weeks after going on Simmons' podcast. That was unquestionably the moment that I knew that my blog was something special and unique for college basketball fans.

Come Back for Part II tomorrow, where me and Mark talk about the future of Club Trillion, LOST and who was hotter on it: Kate or Juliet, Seinfeld, his possible book deal, and why Oprah is being treated unfairly.

Preview From Tomorrow:

From: Mark Titus mailto:clubtrillion@gmail.com
To: Brendan OHare mailto:bohare7@yahoo.com
Sent: Sun, October 24, 2010 6:32:29 PM
Subject: Re: Possible Column
I'm sticking with my guns here. Juliet was smoking. Kate had her moments, but if I'm stuck on a deserted island that isn't quite as deserted as I originally thought and has some sort of weird magnetic properties, I'm making a play for Juliet.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gardner’s Mad Dash

The first 7 innings of last night’s ALCS were awful, and that is not because I fell asleep from innings 3-6. Okay, that is part of the reason, but would you blame me for falling asleep? The Yankees offense was appalling against Ranger starter C.J. Wilson, a soft-tossing lefty whose fastball maybe reached 93 twice last night. Yet, he struck out A-Rod on two separate occasions, blowing 92 mile-per-hour cheese by him. It was really, really bad. Nothing exciting happened from innings 3-6, and when I woke up to see Joba Chamberlain come in in the 5th inning, I forced myself back to sleep. I thought I was going to wake up, and see the score be 9-0, thanks to Joba. He managed to throw only 18 pitches (Which is the equivalent of a normal pitcher throwing 9 in an inning. Joba throws more pitches an inning than any pitcher I have ever seen in my life, and that includes 4th grade Little Leaguers who regularly walk 5 people an inning, if not more) and have a hitless inning.

Quick tangent about Joba: Is it sad that this is what Joba has come to? A former phenom is now doing mop-up work, in a game that I guess Girardi assumed was out of reach. He must have though Joba could not have made it any worse. The arrival of Kerry Wood (a former phenom himself), has completely eliminated Joba’s role in the Yankee bullpen. I am kind of sad to see this go. In his first year, Chamberlain was maybe my favorite player on the Yankees, only behind Jeter. A lot of Yankee fans could vouch for this, as a lot felt the same way. He was electric. We had not seen a guy with this much feeling on the mound, well, ever. Then the Joba Rules came into play, which the only good thing that came out of it was one of my favorite Sports Illustrated Articles of all time. These rules kept him from ever getting out of the shallow end. He never even got into the area of the pool where the shallow meets the deep end, in accordance to pitch count. Then, Hank Steinbrenner said, no, demanded that Joba be a starter in 2008, his first full big league season. He went from throwing 20 pitches a game to 75. I hate Hank Steinbrenner. Thank God he has disappeared off a cliff, in terms of the Yankee organization. Do you think Hal fredoed Hank? Did I just invent a new word? Why does Youtube not have a single clip of Fredo fishing and dying? If one of my reader(s) can find this, you have to send this to me.

Okay, that tangent was not that quick, but you get the point (I assume). It got really, really bad for the Yankees in the beginning of this game. I was watching this game at my friend Alec’s house, who is currently hooked up to some kind of leg machine (which looks like one-fourth of a bicycle machine) because he just had surgery on his torn ACL. The mood in the house after C.C.’s first inning can only be described as angry. There was nothing but snarky remarks for Sabathia for the rest of the time he was in. Even when he made an incredible play, sliding to tag out Nelson Cruz after a wild pitch, I said something along the lines of “Earthquake!” when he started to dive. I have no doubts in my mind that C.C. can turn it around, but a big game pitcher like himself needs to come up much, much bigger than he did tonight.

Gutsy performance by Dustin Moseley last night, who I forgot was even on the playoff roster. I had to add that in.

Let’s get to the eighth inning, which produced maybe one of my ten favorite Yankee moments in my lifetime. Words cannot describe how amazing Gardner’s single was. Think about how impossible it is. He hit a ground ball to first base, maybe 15 feet away from the bag. Then, Gardner puts his already insane speed into Millennium Falcon mode, and is running roughly a 3.4 40 at this point. Then, he slides head-first 20 feet, and beats the pitcher to the bag. Once Gardner was called safe (and he was obviously safe), I knew the Yankees were going to win. It was just too big a momentum shift, and too ballsy a play to go without any retribution. As I tweeted last night, this immediately reminded me of the Dave Roberts ‘04 steal in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. Even Roberts and Gardner are kind of the same player type. Scrappy, fast guys who came up huge. This time, the 5 foot 9 speedster was in our favor.

This was the type of play that championship teams always seem to get. The Yankees responded to Gardner’s steal way better than I ever thought they would. The Yankees scored 5 runs with nobody out in the 8th, and then went ahead on a Marcus Thames broken bat single. There was nothing better than seeing Thames fist pump his way down the first base line off of a bleeder. I love how Jersey Shore has implemented itself in the playoffs. That is what Thames was imitating, right?

This game even got Jeter out of his season-long disaster. He had a huge hit in that inning, an RBI double that got the Yankees on the board in that eighth inning. That kind of big hit gets a player back to normal (I say that out of no scientific data). A-Rod had another huge hit for the Yankees in the playoffs, something that has become commonplace in the past two years. Except for when he hit .250 in the World Series last year. Wow is one of the few words that can describe what the Yankees did last night.


NFL Picks:

Mia v. GB

BAL v. Ne

Kc v. HOU

ATL v. Phi

No v. TB

Sea v. CHI

Det v. NYG

Cle v. PIT

SD v. Stl

NYJ v. Den

Oak v. SF

DAL v. Min

IND v. Was

TEN v. Jac

Check out my Pigskin Pick ‘Em picks: http://games.espn.go.com/pigskin/en/entry?entryID=73518

After going 7-7 against the spread last week, and going a horrific 5-9 in my regular picks, I am 41-35 and 39-37, respectfully. Although I am not sure you have respect for a guy who went 5-9.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The State of Youth Sports

I know what you are thinking after reading this title. You assume that you are going to be lectured on how 11-year-olds should not throw curveballs, and why parents are too overbearing. Well, that is not going to happen. I am just going to share my experiences from this Saturday, when I had to attend a youth soccer tournament.

On Saturday, I was made to go to my little sister’s soccer tournament, which for some reason, was being held an hour and forty five minutes away in North Philadelphia. Needless to say, me and my brothers were not exactly jacked up to take a three hour round trip to watch two games that will take an hour and a half each. I did get home in time for the end of the Alabama-South Carolina game, though, so that was nice. Anyway, within the first couple minutes of being at the park, we sat down under a tree, watching some random 9-year-olds game, while waiting for my sister’s game to start.

There was a green team versus a team that had the exact same style jerseys as the Argentina National soccer team. The Argentina design was obviously intentional, considering that 4 out of the 11 players on the field had the exact same haircut as Lionel Messi. These kids played like Messi, too. When I played soccer when I was nine, the only trick I knew how to do was shoot. And I did it well. In one illustrious 4th grade recreation league season, I scored 17 goals in 9 games. I was like Kobe Bryant in those years after Shaq and before Pau Gasol. I would shoot wherever, whenever.

But this kids were not interested in shooting half-court shots, like I was. Sure, I think they won the game 6-0, but these kids were doing things I had never seen done by kids that little. One kid even attempted a bicycle kick (and almost did it. Thankfully, he did not, as the walls of time would have collapsed). They were crisply passing, and absolutely shredding the defense. This lack of defense led to the green team’s goalie being torn apart, of course. No 9-year-old kid wants to play goalie. If you are from America, you likely have one of the shortest attention spans in the world. If you are below the age of 10, you likely have one of the shortest attention spans in the world as well. If you combine those two together, playing youth soccer goalie is a death sentence.

Of course, the little goalie who looked exactly like Manny from Modern Family was getting the blame for allowing in goals that no normal human being could have stopped. After every goal (and there were many), some punk kid (#23) would turn around and start berating the goalie. This is the type of kid who probably has his homework done for him by his ever-willing parents. Even though #23 would get spun around like Michael Jordan after seeing Allen Iverson’s crossover for the first time, #23 felt as if he did nothing wrong. That is one of the main things in youth sports today, blame. No kid ever feels as if the do anything wrong, because their parents sit at the throne of them. They are perfect, almighty, and can only do right.

My mom and dad also felt bad for the kid, but actually would go onto to say “It’s okay goalie, not your fault! Your defense sucks!” I then moved my chair away, in case they got caught in some type of parent-player riot against them.

The next situation with crazy youth sports I had on Saturday came right before my sister’s second game of the day. Myself and the rest of my family were walking back from our car and heading towards my sister’s next game, being played a few fields down. Of course, I noticed a commotion at one of the fields we were passing, and decided to set up camp by myself at this field. The game that was being played was played by eighth grade boys, one team wearing a black jersey, the other wearing a blue jersey.

I sat down behind on of the goals, with the parents of the blue team. Apparently, none of them thought it was weird or creepy that a kid they had never seen before decided to sit with them. Anyway, across the field, on the right sideline, a parent was being thrown out of the game. Although you usually hear horror stories of how awful parents are at youth games (and believe me, I have seen this many times), these parents never actually get thrown out of games. This parent must have said the most repulsive thing ever said at a youth sporting event, because that is the only way a parent will get thrown out. This incident, naturally, got me hooked into a game filled with players I have never seen before.

Almost seconds later, it got even better. Someone kicked the ball inside the 18-yard line, where the blue goalie and the black team player both jumped up for the ball at the same time. Now, I was sitting on the other side of the field, so it was hard to see what happened. The black team player seemed to push the blue goalie down, but for some reason, the blue goalie was thrown out of the game. Being a fourteen-year-old kid, growing up watching Rasheed Wallace and Ron Artest handle being ejected so well, he slammed the ball, then yelled out “F--- You!” at the top of his lungs before heading towards the sidelines.

This is where the game really started to get out of hand.

I really felt bad for the referee during all this. Right after the goalie got thrown out, the game on the field turned into a small-scale riot. Players were pushing and throwing out elbows frantically. The referee couldn’t be a day over 25, and he had these eighth graders coming up to him almost every other minute, complaining about missed fouls and what not.

Soccer is a game that thrives off of flopping and complaining to the referee. These kids had obviously seen the World Cup this summer, so they reacted to missed calls the same way their professional heroes would. They made a face that looked as if they had seen their President (or dictator, depending on the country) be assassinated, then wave their arms frantically like a dog attempting to swim in a whirlpool (Yes, I got that idea from a Simpsons episode that was on the other night). These kids had done their homework, and now the referee was getting the brunt of it.

Then came the real battle of the game. The on-going battle between #10 from the black team (a skinny, punkass white kid who kind of looked like myself) and #34 from the blue team (a tall, athletic black kid who really should have been playing football. He was really just wasting his obvious athletic ability out there). Throughout the fifteen minutes that I watched the game (yes, all this happened in fifteen minutes), these two kids were pushing and shoving each other, while receiving about twelve warnings from our over-powered referee. It was just non-stop. #10 was the one doing a majority of the pushing and talking, and to #34’s credit, he kept his composure and did not throw #10 into the goal. After the game was over, #10 started pointing at #34 yelling something while running away, and giving skinny white kids a bad name. I really wanted to punch that kid. At one point there was a pushing match right by where I was sitting, and for a few seconds, I seriously considered punching that kid in the face if a fight were to ensue.

Then came the post-game handshake. The buzz in the part where I was sitting, was that there had to be a fight. The parents almost seemed optimistic about this. There was no fight, much to every one’s disappointment. Then a crazy Spanish lady, who looked as if she had wandering a little too far away from Center City Philly, starting yelling and screaming in a language that definitely was not Spanish. I then began to walk over to my sister’s game, only five minutes late.

Of course something had to happen at this game, too. Well, not this game, but the game behind me. In another battle of 12-year-olds, the “captain” of one team pushed a kid from the other team, and was given a yellow card. This prompted his dad, in an accent only Dikembe Mutombo has ever come close to, yelled “He can do that! He is the captain!”

He obviously thought that his kid had some kind of special powers, because he had the captain armband, and could just go around beating up whomever he wanted.

Nothing like this happened in my sister’s games, unfortunately.

The lesson from these incidents? I am not sure there is one, other than kids now emulate professional athletes a lot and sideline parents are insane. I just thought these were cool stories. I am not saying the kids are doing anything wrong, however. I did a lot of stupid stuff while playing youth sports. I have yelled at umpires, done asinine Antoine Walker dances after making a shot in 3rd grade basketball, and have punched a kids broken arm after I heard his grandmother tell him to spike me. These types of incidents have almost become a part of youth sports culture. It is unavoidable, really, and that is what a lot of people do not get. The way sports is portrayed nowadays on TV, the over-the-top environment is shown even in youth sports. I do not think that will ever change.

And my sister may have broken her shoulder the next day, but I missed out on that.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fixing the NFL

Did I just blow your mind with that title? Before continuing reading, please recover your discarded brain matter off the ground. I’ll wait for you to return from surgery to continue with this article.




Oh, good! You’re back! And it only took 12 hours. (I do not really know how long brain surgery takes. I highly doubt it only takes 12 hours.) Now that you have finally returned, and I am done with my nap, I can get to my point. The NFL needs to be changed. It is the number one sport in America, and seems to have infinite popularity potential (Potential is a weird word to describe the NFL’s success, considering it has been around for 40 years, not including the 40 before when there was no “Super Bowl”. But the NFL is ever growing.), but it needs to be fixed. I am not going to comment on the labor struggle that seems to be dooming the 2011 NFL Season (Let’s be honest, an NFL strike was eminent. For a league that once had two strikes in the ‘80s, we were long overdue. It is like that supervolcano that is 60,000 years overdue that sits underneath Yellowstone National Park. It is going to happen eventually.) I am, however, going to be commenting on the asinine divisions, the idiotic playoff format, and the lack of concern over head injuries. When the NFL says they are attempting to make progress on these things, they really are not. Hopefully, they will find this article one day, before it is too late. By too late, I mean when football becomes outlawed by Congress, Teddy Roosevelt style, for having too many players die before the age of 50.

1) Get Rid of the AFC & NFC North, for God’s sake.

I have nothing against the two northern divisions. In fact, they may be two of the better divisions in football. Hell, the AFC North is even home to my favorite team (the Steelers). But they are not necessary. You could make the same argument about the AFC and NFC South. What kind of sadistic league has four divisions? They need to disband the North and South, and combine them into a Central. Of course, having a eight team division would be even dumber then the first scenario. Get rid of four teams from both Central’s, and sprinkle two into the AFC/NFC West, and two into the AFC/NFC East. God knows the West’s need new teams. If I have to sit through one more week knowing that the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and St. Louis Rams are all either tied or hold sole possession of first place, I may lose faith in humanity all together.

AFC East: Ravens, Jets, Patriots, Browns, Jaguars

AFC Central: Dolphins, Bills, Steelers, Broncos, Bengals, Colts

AFC West: Titans, Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Texans

NFC East: Giants, Eagles, Panthers, Falcons, Buccaneers

NFC Central: Rams, Redskins, Packers, Saints, Lions, Bears

NFC West: Cowboys, Cardinals, Niners, Seahawks, Vikings

See! Extreme Parity!

2) Please, No 18 Game Schedule

Now, I know this is not in place yet, but the NFL is way too obsessed with this idea to ignore it. This will do a few things. For starters, the players will be exhausted for the playoffs. In case the owners have not noticed (and they have not) football is a really, really tough game to play. For one team to possibly play 22 games a season is absolutely crazy and too much to ask. Getting rid of two preseason games will do nothing, since a majority of starters play one series, then sit on the bench doing various things, like playing with the giant cooling fans like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy. The players will be drained come playoff time. That is just what the NFL wants, right? Running backs running right into the line of scrimmage, then toppling over when the come in contact with a defensive player? Linemen keeling over in pain as all four chambers of their heart collapse? No one wants that.

My other argument against this is in number 8. My solution is…

3) One-Game Playoff!

You may think this is crazy, but hear me out. Think of how crazy this one weekend would be. You would have probably about 8 teams combined playing, for only the two playoff spots, one for each conference. Instead of having a one 9-7 team make it over another, because they beat them back in Week 2 when their star linebacker was injured, you now have a fair way to decide who makes the postseason. Baseball has done this for years, and some of baseball’s most famous moments come from one-game playoffs. Bobby Thompson’s Shot Heard Round the World in 1951. Bucky Dent’s home run off of Al Torrez in 1978. The Rockies winning in 13 innings in 2007. Nothing is more dramatic than having the entire fate of your season ride on one game. In the NFL, you have these absurd playoff scenarios, where you need mathematicians from MIT to decipher all the different ways a team can get in. Why add two idiotic games, when you can one extra game at the end of the season that really mean something.

By now, you may have found the flaw in my plan. You are going to need two weeks to decide this, if there are 8 teams into the equation. The only real solution(s) to this would be to either:

a) Only allow 4 teams in, and eliminate the excess by using tiebreakers

b) Play another week

I would have to edge with A here. Sure, there are still tiebreakers, but there are not as many. If you do not have enough in the tiebreakers to even make the play-in game, why should you be in the playoffs? There would still be confusing tiebreakers, but they would seem a lot more there than previously.

4) Electoral College Playoffs

We have a division this year, the NFC West, where every team may not finish over .500. And still make the playoffs. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. It is like in the NBA Playoffs, where the 8 seed from the Eastern Conference goes 38-44 and makes the playoffs. But that is different. There are no teams that are better than the 8 seed, and do not make the playoffs. That does not happen in the gratuitous playoff system that is the NBA. We could easily see a team this year go 9-7 in the NFC, and not make it because the Seahawks managed to go 7-9. My solution?

If you do not win more than 8 games during the regular season, you do not make the playoffs.

Sounds fair, right? Do it the way America does it. If you do not get 270 electoral votes, you are not our damn President. If you are one of those wishy-washy types, and says “Maybe the division they played in was so hard, they could barely get to .500.” (Which is not the case in the NFC West), we could tweak the rule so that you must go at least 3-5 out of your division. I do not want to see Alex Smith be a playoff quarterback. This rule can prevent that. USA! USA! USA!

5) Overtime

The owners were in the right direction when they made the new overtime rule for the postseason, in this past offseason. The new rule is still awful, but not as horrific as the previous overtime rule was. Currently, the regular season is still the same as it always was: Whoever scores first, wins! The postseason, however, is a little different. If you score a field goal on your first possession, you do not win. The only way you can win is by scoring a touchdown. This idea is still extremely dumb. We are still going to have a situation where coaches want to protect their jobs, by pulling up for the field goal. (Say a team scores a field goal on the initial kickoff. The opposing team will then drive to the 30 yard line, then proceed to run three one-yard running plays in a row. It is not going to change.) There are going to do this no matter what, unless you implement the college football system AKA the only overtime system that works (Shootouts are dumb, hockey and soccer). I have always been all for the college system, at least since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl where Ohio State and Miami duked it out in overtime (This is also the game where Willis McGahee’s knee exploded).

6) More Mascots v. Children Half-time Games.

There is nothing funnier than seeing a “grown” man in a 7 foot jaguar costume face masking a nine-year-old kid. Watch:

7) CBS Should Not be Allowed to Broadcast Games

I love the duo of Nantz and Sims. I love the clearness of CBS HD. But for the love of God, if I see one more commercial for The Defenders, I am going to throw my remote into the TV. CBS leads all of America in advertising during football games. It has gotten to the point, where I am waiting to see the commercials overtake the game in the title on my TV Guide.

Sunday 1-4 PM Advertising (Sponsored by GMC, Mike Rowe, 60 Minutes and Cialis)

Every kickoff, every turnover, every challenge, injury, timeout, injury timeout, all deserve a commercial break. It is beyond frustrating. What is the point of TV timeouts, if CBS tries to jam in an advertisment for Hawaii 5-0 in between the kickoff and the opening play? (All while missing the first and seconds plays, mind you). This insanity needs to end.

8) Concussion Problem

My solution: Make every player where the helmet Troy Polamalu wears. By my rough estimate, Polamalu has suffered 47 concussions during is career. The only thing that keeps him alive on the football field, is that giant, semi-obnoxious helmet he wears. Sure he looks like a bobblehead doll, or a mascot, but he is trying to preserve his life. The NFL is facing a huge current problem, where a wave of retired players are dying young and suffering from disease that they should not be having until at least 40 years down the road. The concussion is a big issue.

Making a new helmet is key in this. The helmets have not changed since 1975 (not a real fact), and seem to be made by random scrap metal. If everyone wore the helmet Polamalu wears, concussions would drop drastically. Another, more radical idea, is that players are forced to retire after their 7th concussion. Obviously, this idea would never happen, but it is an interesting thing to consider. Can you imagine a player, in the prime of his career, being forced to retire? Polamalu would have been gone 4 years ago. But the NFL will consider this idea down the line. They need to protect their players, and if the recent lawsuits are any indication, this issue is not going away.


NFL Picks:

Jacksonville v. BUFFALO

New York Giants v. HOUSTON



GREEN BAY v. Washington

St. Louis v. DETROIT

CHICAGO v. Carolina

ATLANTA v. Cleveland


NEW ORLEANS v. Arizona

Tennessee v. DALLAS

SAN DIEGO v. Oakland

Philadelphia v. SAN FRANCISCO

MINNESOTA v. New York Jets

My picks against the spread: Pigskin Pick Em

After a 8-6 non-spread and a 7-7 spread week, I am 34-28 in both categories.

Till next week.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The 2010 All-MLB Team

As the baseball season comes to an end, it will soon be award time. No other sport has as many “important” awards as professional baseball does. The MLB has two MVP’s, two Cy Young’s, two Rookie of the Year’s, Golden Gloves and Silver Sluggers to be passed out once the season is over. With as many endless awards as the MLB has, they are still not doing a good enough job honoring the players who have had great seasons. The All-Star game does not get the job done. There, you have random players being put in solely because every team needs to have one representative (Looking at you, Pittsburgh Pirate setup man Evan Meek). You also get the player who has been injured 3/4 of the season, being selected to start by the genius fans. That is why I have decided to set a new standard for selecting the players who have done the best. An All-MLB team. Why are football, the NCAA and the NBA the only leagues smart enough to institute something like this? Wouldn’t you want to see on someone’s Hall of Fame plaque: 6 1st Team MLB selections, 4 2nd Team MLB selections? It would give us a good idea of how players did over their careers, and how they compared to the other greats at their position during their career. No, I am not in Mensa.

I’ll give all 3 teams in their entirety first, then I will give out my explanations for picking some players over others. These selections will combine the two leagues (AL and NL), mainly because I do not feel like writing explanations for 60 players. Here is the 1st Team:

C: Joe Mauer, MIN

1B: Miguel Cabrera, DET

2B: Robinson Cano, NYY

SS: Troy Tulowitzki, COL

3B: Adrian Beltre, BOS

LF: Josh Hamilton, TEX

CF: Carlos Gonzalez, COL

RF: Jose Bautista, TOR

SP: Felix Hernandez, SEA

SP: Roy Halladay, PHI

SP: Adam Wainwright, STL

CP: Rafael Soriano, TB

2nd Team:

C: Brian McCann, ATL

1B: Joey Votto, CIN

2B: Dan Uggla, FLA

SS: Hanley Ramirez, FLA

3B: Alex Rodriguez, NYY

LF: Matt Holliday, STL

CF: Jayson Werth, PHI

RF: Shin-Soo Choo, CLE

SP: C.C. Sabathia, NYY

SP: Clay Buchholz, BOS

SP: Ubaldo Jimenez, COL

CP: Brian Wilson, SF

3rd Team:

C: Yadier Molina, STL

1B: Albert Pujols, STL

2B: Martin Prado, ATL

SS: Omar Infante, ATL

3B: Evan Longoria, TB

LF: Carl Crawford, TB

CF: Vernon Wells, TOR

RF: Corey Hart, MIL

SP: David Price, TB

SP: Jered Weaver, LAA

SP: Josh Johnson, FLA

CP: Mariano Rivera, NYY

Catcher: Mauer, McCann, Molina

The 3 M’s make up one of the weaker positions in baseball. Mauer is the only clear standout out of the 3, and he had a down year by his standards, with a severe drop in power. McCann is an average defensive catcher, and did not really have a hitting season to remember. For the first half of the year, Molina may have been the weakest hitting full-time player in the bigs, but he managed to step it up in the second half. He is however, perhaps the best defensive catcher in the game. I wanted to put Victor Martinez on the list, since he and Mauer were the only catchers to have moderately good hitting seasons. But Martinez is just too much of a defensive liability to be on any “Best of” list.

First Base: Cabrera, Votto, Pujols

You might be thinking to yourself: How does Votto, the almost unanimous NL MVP, come in 2nd in this race? Cabrera has simply put up better numbers than Votto has:


Miguel Cabrera DET
150 548 111 180 45 1 38 126 89 95 3 3 .328.420 .622 1.042

Joey Votto CIN
150 547 106 177 36 2 37 113 91 125 16 5 .324.424 .600 1.024

Cabrera easily wins this comparison, 10-4. 3 of Votto’s 4 wins in this comparison came in random categories, like triples, walks and stolen bases. Cabrera clearly had the better season offensively. Defensively, Votto is much, much better. Cabrera might as well be playing with a cinderblock for a hand. Votto may have meant more for his team, but his team is likely to lose in the first round of the playoffs. So that right there kind of negates the whole “Votto meant more” argument. As an overall baseball player, Cabrera had the better season.

Second Base: Cano, Uggla, Prado

Probably the hardest position to choose numbers 2 and 3, just because they both have humongous holes in their arguments for All-MLB status. Uggla may be the worst fielding second baseman of the past 30 years, and Prado really did not anything whatsoever that stood out. I guess the 40 doubles will count, but is that really what you want to have define you, doubles?. The second base position is kind of like the NBA’s center position this season, where you have a clear number one (Cano, Dwight Howard), an offensive specialist who cares little about defense (Uggla, Amare Stoudamire), and a random player who puts up above-average offensive numbers (Prado, Andrew Bogut). With the absence of Chase Utley for most of the season, the second base position (disregarding Cano), did not go hard.

Shortstop: Tulowitzki, Ramirez, Infante

Tulowitzki looked like a 2nd teamer coming into September, before he went on one of the greatest single month hitting tears of all-time, and almost catapulting the Rockies into the playoffs. In September, Tulo batted .303 with 15 homers and 40 runs batted in. He also slugged an astounding .754, with a 1.120 on base plus slugging percentage. Those are Bonds in ‘01-esque stats for one month, and Tulo was likely not on any sort of performance-enhancer. He is also one of the better middle infielders, having only 10 errors on the season and a cannon for an arm. Hanley batted .300 and had another 20-30 season, but he never really had the type of production he should have, due to the fact he bats in the weak Marlin lineup. Hanley is an awful fielder, but his ability to get on base still makes him valuable. Infante is on the list solely because Jeter had a down season and Jimmy Rollins has been MIA. We ran out of good players at shortstop, so a guy who hit 8 home runs and only drove in 47 runs is a 3rd team All-MLB selection. Hey, he did hit .321 and play stellar defense, in my defense.

Third Base: Beltre, Rodriguez, Longoria

Rodriguez is a first teamer if he does not miss 25 games. He led these three in home runs and runs batted in, and likely would have had a 40-140 season if he did not miss so much time. Instead, he’ll have to finish as a second teamer (Does that really make a difference? A-Rod likely has finished first in this imaginary honor ten years in a row. This second place finish will just add a few words to his career summary). Beltre is a frontrunner for Comeback Player of the Year (Another one of baseball’s 28 awards they hand out). Beltre hit .321/28/102, and had an OPS of .919. Beltre’s offense single-handedly kept the Red Sox relevant, when they had Ralph Wiggum playing centerfield for a majority of the season. Even in a down year for Longoria, he still played well enough to get a 3rd team nod, just over David Wright. Their statistics were basically the same, but Longoria was just a little better: Longoria & Wright Hitting Splits

Left Field: Hamilton, Holliday, Crawford

This is the clear top 3 for left field, which was one of the stronger positions this season. Hamilton led the entire league in hitting, and by about 20 points too. Holliday had his usual .300/25/100 season, and Crawford had another high hitting season with 40+ steals. As a Yankee fan, I am very excited for the inevitable signing of Crawford. Can you imagine him and Brett Gardner on the base paths? The Yankees will not know what to do. My entire life, they have very rarely took chances on the base paths. Now they have two 40 plus steal guys. It is going to be a culture shock for myself and Yankee fans, after a decade of watching Jason Giambi and Ruben Sierra trip over second base.

Center Field: Gonzalez, Werth, Wells

One would have to think that Carlos Gonzalez wins the NL MVP if the Rockies had made the playoffs. He led the NL in batting and was second in RBI’s, and after all that talk of a Votto-Pujols Triple Crown race, it was Gonzalez who ended up being the closest to immortality. Gonzalez played out of his mind in the second half, hitting at a .363/17/57 clip, with him and Tulowitzki almost bringing the Rockies into the playoffs. Gonzalez also benefitted from playing at home. Don’t tell me I am wrong Rockies fans, and do not say anything about how “The humidor has stopped the offensive bonanza that is Coors Field.” Gonzalez hit 26 home runs at home, compared to 8 on the road. He hit .380 at home, .289 on the road. He also struck out 54 times at home, but 81 times on the road. That stat confuses me. I can understand the home runs and batting average deal, maybe Coors Field had something to do with that. But the strikeout thing is not affected by altitude, which makes me think that perhaps this whole home/road deal is in Gonzalez’s head. Anyway, Werth had a great season in Philly, and is probably the second hottest free agent prospect, behind Crawford now. Vernon Wells also had a big comeback year, hitting 31 home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Right Field: Bautista, Choo, Hart

Right field was definitely one of the stranger positions this season. You have a guy like Bautista, who has come out of nowhere to lead the MLB in home runs, by a pretty damn convincing margin. Then there is Shin-Soo Choo, who probably put up the best all-around numbers out of the three (.300/22/90, with an .885 OPS and 22 steals), but is never talked about. Corey Hart had a solid .283/31/102 clip, but is also never talked about. When you mentioned these three names to the average sport fan, only Bautista is known, and that is because of his recent home run surge. But Shoo and Hart are also two excellent ballplayers, which made this perhaps the deepest position in the game (Nick Swisher and Ichiro just barely missed the cut, and they were both All-Stars). I have to give the nod to Bautista, just because of his insane power this season. You cannot ignore that. But Choo made it very difficult. Did anyone know Choo was playing this well? Does anyone know the Indians still play baseball? Who am I talking to?

Starting Pitcher: Hernandez/Holladay/Wainwright, Sabathia/Buchholz/Jimenez, Price/Weaver/Johnson

Felix Hernandez seems to have gained that Cy Young steam from the press that one needs to have, as has Doc Holladay. Felix led the AL in strikeouts, and the majors in ERA and batting average against. Yet, he only went 13-12. Those 13 wins would be the fewest of any Cy Young winner, by 3 wins. But Felix is the most dominate pitcher in the bigs, and was damned by the historically-awful Mariner offense. A few weeks ago, I wrote that wins should matter. But now I have changed. Especially after seeing Felix dominate the Yankees this season, going 3-0 with a 0.35 ERA. A 0.35 ERA! Is that even possible? When you go 26 innings and allow 1 earned run, it is. Holladay seems to be the clear favorite in the NL, and Wainwright looks to be the runner-up. Both won over 20 games, and had ERA’s in the 2.4’s. Doc was the bigger workhouse, with 9 complete games and an unheard of 250 innings. He also went 11-3 in the 2nd half.

For the second team, Sabathia is the leader. He was the lone consistent starter on a Yankee staff drowned by Javy Vazquez and A.J. Burnett. Sabathia was the one guy you could count on for a quality start in a big game. Buchholz had a 17-7 season, with a quiet 2.33 ERA. Jimenez faded off in the second half, but still was unhittable at time. His incredible first half still put him in a position to be named to the second team. For the third team, you have 19-6 Price, the major league leader in strikeouts Weaver went 13-12 on a punchless Angels team; sound familiar?), and Johnson, who went 11-6 but had 11 no-decisions. Johnson was 1st in the NL in ERA, but had so many no-decisions he is not even mentioned in the Cy Young category. Johnson was one of the most dominating pitchers this season, but like a lot of these pitchers, is damned by a dreadful offense.

Closer: Soriano, Wilson, RiveraBrian Wilson Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers during a Major League Baseball game at AT&T Park on September 13, 2009 in San Francisco, California.

Soriano had 45 saves, a 0.80 WHIP, and a .163 BAA. You could not ask any more from a closer. Brian Wilson led the majors in saves, and is also certifiably insane (Don’t believe me? Look at this clip of him on Jim Rome in September: Wilson on Rome). Rivera had another dominating season, and had the second lowest WHIP of any closer. You would not want to face any three of these guys in the playoffs.


My Real Awards:

AL MVP: Josh Hamilton

NL MVP: Carlos Gonzalez (Bet on Votto, even though Cargo deserves it)

AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (Bet on Sabathia, even though Felix deserves it)

NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay

AL Rookie: Austin Jackson (Good thing the Yanks traded him…)

NL Rookie: Buster Posey