06 March 2012

2012 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Boston Red Sox

Over the next month, we will be previewing all 30 MLB teams for the upcoming fantasy season.  We'll go over everything from which players are new to the team, to which ones have left. Who should you draft, who should you avoid, who should you heckle, who should you stalk and send a lock of your hair to, who should you want to throw a baggie full of your own urine at.  You know.  All the important shit to prepare you for your draft.

BOSTON RED SOX

So what about last year? Cut and paste what I wrote about Atlanta. Boston had a bad April, kicked all kinds of ass from May - August, then got drunk and ate too much fried chicken in September and missed the playoffs on the final day of the season.

So who's playing where? Projected lineup courtesy of Rotochamp.com. Stats are from 2011.  RNK is the player's ranking at that position from our fantasy rankings.


PlayerPOS2011 TeamABRHRRBISBAVGOBPSLGRNK
1Jacoby EllsburyOFBOS6601193210539.321.376.5524th
2Carl CrawfordOFBOS 50665115618.255.289.40523rd
3Dustin Pedroia2BBOS 635102219126.307.387.4742nd
4Adrian Gonzalez1BBOS 630108271171.338.410.5484th
5David OrtizDHBOS 5258429961.309.398.554NR
6Kevin Youkilis3BBOS 4316817803.258.373.45913th
7Cody RossOFSF4055414525.240.325.40592nd
8Jarrod SaltalamacchiaCBOS 3585216561.235.288.45023rd
9Mike AvilesSSKC/BOS2863173914.255.289.40926th

Who do I draft? Take your pick. Ellsbury is a first round pick. Pedroia usually goes in the second. Ortiz is good for 25-30 homers even in a bad year. 

Who do I avoid? Injury concerns about Youk and Crawford aside, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Adrian Gonzalez. Obviously in a keeper league you keep him and don't give it a second thought. But in redraft leagues, he's going way higher than I like. Homers were down last year, and Boston isn't actually too friendly to left handed power hitters. His insanely high BABIP is going to drop, bringing his average to about the .280 to .300 level. Coming into his second full season after shoulder surgery, there's a chance he goes bananas and hits 40 homers like everyone expected last year. But if he only hit 25, it wouldn't surprise me. Now a .300 average, 25 homers and well over 100 RBI is nothing to sneeze at, but that's not what you want out of the 6th or 7th pick in the draft.

Who do I keep an eye on? SALTY! Dude hit 10 homers in the second half last year. He's got a chance at 15-20 with an average that won't murder you too much every week. As the 23rd catcher off the board, you could do a lot worse.

So who's in the rotation? Projected lineup courtesy of Rotochamp.com. Stats are from 2011.  RNK is the player's ranking at that position from our fantasy rankings.


PlayerPOS2011 TeamIPWLERAWHIPKBBRNK
1Jon LesterSPBOS191.21593.471.261827516th
2Josh BeckettSPBOS 193.01372.891.031755225th
3Clay BuchholzSPBOS 82.2633.481.29603158th
4Daniel BardSPBOS 73.0293.330.96742471st
5Alfredo AcevesSPBOS 114.01652.611.11804293rd

Who do I draft? Pencil in Lester for the same stat line as last year: ERA between 3.20 and 3.50, 180 - 200 K's. The only thing that seems to fluctuate is wins. Beckett won't be as awesome as last year, but he'll certainly be better than he was in 2010.

Who do I avoid? If you think Aceves can be a full-time starter this season and still have an ERA under 3.00, there's a money league I'd like to invite you to. There's no way he repeats the insanely low BABIP (.231) and he doesn't strike enough hitters out to be as dominant as he was last year. I call it luck. I also call maybe 15 starts over the season with an ERA between 3.80 and 4.20 (Heh...4:20, mannnnn...). Avoid Bard too, at least at the position he's being drafted in. Reliever-to-starter transitions are always risky, especially in the first year. If he drops to you late, go for it. otherwise let him be someone else's problem.

Who do I keep an eye on? Clay Buchholz had a stress fracture in his back last season. The year before he was not too shabby. Keep an eye on him in Spring Training.

Who the hell is closing?
PlayerPOS2011 TeamIPWLSavesERAWHIPKBBRNK
Andrew BaileyRPOAK41.204243.241.10411212th
Mark MelanconRPHOU74.184202.781.22662651st

Andrew Bailey gets hurt more than a 12 year old girl's feelings. Keep Mellonballer as a handcuff if you draft him.

What if that asshole gets hurt or starts to suck? Melancon, duh.

05 March 2012

Midwesternist Macabre Monday: The Museum of Historic Torture Devices, Wisconsin Dells, WI


Believe it or not, this is NOT a torture device.
I've never been to Wisconsin Dells, but I have seen the commercials. And, since The Dells can afford to advertise, I imagine that dozens of families pack their cars every summer and drive to the middle of Wisconsin to be gouged at slightly more elaborate water parks than the ones nearer to home. I don't envy the parents, who will eventually face the demoralizing prospect of having to endure a long, hot, boring car ride back to their suburban hellholes with their over-stimulated children once their vacations are over. If only there were away to scare their kids straight for a few hours!

If she weighs the same as a duck...
- she's made of wood.
- And therefore?
- A witch!
Thankfully, tucked away in downtown Wisconsin Dells is The Museum of Historic Torture Devices, which provides over 40 exhibits for spiteful parents to consider as they wonder how on earth they raised such ungrateful brats.


The Museum of Historic Torture Devices offers a private collection of classic torture devices from around the world. For about $7 per person, you can threaten your children with The Rack, The Iron Gag, The Chinese Death Cage, the Dunking Stool, or good ol' fashioned Thumb Screws. And while most of these torture devices only exist in the imaginations of demented quasi-historians, your family doesn't need to know this.


Aside from facsimiles of "historic" devices (and a cash-operated novelty electric chair that vibrates and spews smoke), the museum has other random items in their collection, such as whips, chains, skulls, autographed photos of the Three Stooges (?) and Vampira (the original television horror host), a check signed by Vincent Price, and a collection of paintings and letters from John Wayne Gacy.


Knowing that this is a serial killer/rapist makes him
slightly scarier than your average birthday clown.
The Museum of Historic Torture Devices is only open mid-May through mid-September, so plan your trip accordingly.

01 March 2012

2012 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Over the next month, we will be previewing all 30 MLB teams for the upcoming fantasy season.  We'll go over everything from which players are new to the team, to which ones have left. Who should you draft, who should you avoid, who should you heckle, who should you stalk and send a lock of your hair to, who should you want to throw a baggie full of your own urine at.  You know.  All the important shit to prepare you for your draft.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

So what about last year? More of exactly the same. They weren't any good and all of their pitchers were terrible. Remember when they used to be able to go into every season and say "Man, at least we're not Tampa Bay"?

So who's playing where? Projected lineup courtesy of Rotochamp.com. Stats are from 2011.  RNK is the player's ranking at that position from our fantasy rankings.


PlayerPOS2011 TeamABRHRRBISBAVGOBPSLGRNK
1Brian Roberts2BBAL163183196.221.273.33129th
2J.J. HardySSBAL5277630800.269.310.49112th
3Nick MarkakisOFBAL64172157312.284.351.40631st
4Adam JonesOFBAL56768258312.280.319.46623rd
5Matt WietersCBAL5007222681.262.328.4508th
6Mark ReynoldsDH/3BBAL5348437866.221.323.48314th
7Wilson Betemit3BKC/DET323408464.285.343.45237th
8Chris Davis1BTEX/BAL199255191.266.305.402NR
9Endy ChavezOFTEX2563752710.301.323.426NR

Who do I draft? The top of the Baltimore lineup is actually pretty good. Adam Jones looks like 25/10 is his floor, although he sucks in OBP leagues. That said, Mark Reynolds is actually incredibly good in OBP leagues, so they have something for everyone.

Who do I avoid? JJ Hardy will be lucky to get to 25 homers this year, and I say he only hits 20. Brian Roberts has more back problems than someone born with no spine (I'd like to say that sounded better in my head, but it didn't. I just don't have an ending to that particular setup.).

Who do I keep an eye on? Everyone thinks Wieters is the breakout guy this season, so I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Chris Davis finally has a breakout. And by "breakout" I mean 20 homers and an OBP no higher than .310.

So who's in the rotation? Projected lineup courtesy of Rotochamp.com. Stats are from 2011.  RNK is the player's ranking at that position from our fantasy rankings.


PlayerPOS2011 TeamIPWLERAWHIPKBBRNK
1Zach BrittonSPBAL154.111114.611.459762NR
2Jason HammelSPCOL170.17134.761.439468NR
3Wei Ying ChenSPJapan164.28102.681.039431106th
4Jake ArrietaSPBAL119.11085.051.469359NR
5Tsuyoshi WadaSPJapan184.21651.511.0016840NR

Who do I draft? If you have any intentions of winning, no one.

Who do I avoid? All of them. Seriously, they're terrible. And Brian Matusz is even worse!

Who do I keep an eye on? Maybe Chris Tillman? But even he laid a giant deuce on the pitcher's mound when he got a shot last season. Pass.

Who the hell is closing?
PlayerPOS2011 TeamIPWLSavesERAWHIPKBBRNK
Jim JohnsonRPBAL91.06592.671.1158211st
Kevin GreggRPBAL59.203224.371.6453401st

What if that asshole gets hurt or starts to suck? If Jim Johnson gets hurt, I wouldn't touch Gregg with a 3 foot pole. Unless that 3 foot pole was a bat, in which case I would clobber everything Gregg threw near the plate. Just like everyone else in baseball does.

29 February 2012

2012 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Atlanta Braves

Over the next month, we will be previewing all 30 MLB teams for the upcoming fantasy season.  We'll go over everything from which players are new to the team, to which ones have left. Who should you draft, who should you avoid, who should you heckle, who should you stalk and send a lock of your hair to, who should you want to throw a baggie full of your own urine at.  You know.  All the important shit to prepare you for your draft.

ATLANTA BRAVES

So what about last year? It's really the tale of two seasons. The Braves rode a pretty competent pitching rotation and a solid, if unspectacular offense, to a fantastic 5 months. Then they went 2-53 in September and missed the playoffs, opening the door for the Cardinals to win the World Series. This places the 2011 Braves as one of my least favorite teams of all time. The 2012 team is pretty much the same. They're banking on a Jason Heyward rebound and some steady improvement from Freddie Freeman.

So who's playing where? Projected lineup courtesy of Rotochamp.com. Stats are from 2011.  RNK is the player's ranking at that position from our fantasy rankings.


PlayerPOS2011 TeamABRHRRBISBAVGOBPSLGRNK
1Michael BournOFHOU/ATL6569425061.294.349.38621st
2Martin PradoOFATL5516613574.260.302.38545th
3Chipper Jones3BATL4555618702.275.344.47025th
4Dan Uggla2BATL6008836821.233.311.4538th
5Brian McCannCATL 4665124713.270.351.4663rd
6Freddie Freeman1BATL 5716721764.282.346.44817th
7Jason HeywardOFATL 3965014429.227.319.38935th
8Tyler PastornickySSATL(Minors)----------.---.---.---32nd

Who do I draft? You know what you're getting from Bourn and McCann. Their floors and ceilings aren't too far from each other. Outside of a terrible first half to 2011, the same can be said of Thuggla. I'm really high on Freddie Freeman. He's built for power, and it can show up as early as this season. Don't let his knee injury scare you off. As someone that's dislocated his kneecap many times, he'll be good in about a week.

Who do I avoid? Chipper Jones may seem like a solid option (especially to those in OBP leagues), but you'd better not go into the season with him as your main option at any position. Tyler Pastornicky is an all-glove, not-much-hit SS that can steal a few bases and easily hit in the low .200's. Red flag!

Who do I keep an eye on? Jason Heyward is the real wild card. Will he put up high-20's homers and an OBP north of .380? Or will he continue to be plagued by injuries and stay at the Nick Markakis-esque 17 HR/10 SB levels of 2011. I'm betting on something in the middle. Put him down for 80/24/80/10/.290 this season.

So who's in the rotation? Projected lineup courtesy of Rotochamp.com. Stats are from 2011.  RNK is the player's ranking at that position from our fantasy rankings.


PlayerPOS2011 TeamIPWLERAWHIPKBBRNK
1Tim Hudson INJSPATL215.016103.221.141585645th
2Tommy HansonSPATL 130.01173.601.171424626th
3Jair JurrjensSPATL 152.01362.961.22904459th
4Brandon BeachySPATL 141.2733.681.211694631st
5Mike MinorSPATL 82.2534.141.49773082nd

Who do I draft? Ummmm...I'm probably staying away from all of these fuckers, as I'll explain...now!

Who do I avoid? All of these fuckers. Hudson's old and has back problems (and doesn't strike anyone out anyway). Hanson's throwing motion just SCREAMS constant shoulder problems. Jair Jurrjens weighs about 130 pounds and got hurt reading this sentence. Beachy made quite a splash last season, but when I watch him on TV, I feel like his fastball is wayyy too straight and might have some home run problems on the road.

Who do I keep an eye on? Mike Minor, but not because he's good specifically. Whoever nabs the #5 spot in the rotation (Minor, Delgado, Vizcaino, Grizzly Bear) will have some talent to work with.

Who the hell is closing?
PlayerPOS2011 TeamIPWLSavesERAWHIPKBBRNK
Craig KimbrelRPATL77.043462.101.04127321st

What if that asshole gets hurt or starts to suck? Obviously Johnny Venters is the handcuff here, but he also threw about 850 innings of relief last season, so keep an eye on any of the seven other relievers the Braves had check in with a sub-2.00 ERA last year.

28 February 2012

Eat Us: Steak-Umms



Eat Us takes great care to showcase the finest food and drink the Midwest has to offer. And occasionally some of the worst.

There are some foods that - how to say this nicely? - classify as White Trash Food. They're less a consumable than a line in the sand. While some foods (Jello salad, mayo sandwiches, canned hash) are debatable regionally, there's one White Trash Food that bears do debate. I speak of Steak-Umms, "America's Favorite Sliced Steak!"

Steak-Umms, born out of the stygian abyss of Reading, PA, are a sliced frozen steak product that I suspect contains little "steak." Having eaten them a time or six, I can attest that it definitively tastes of the beef trimmings that weren't quite up to boxed frozen Wal-Mart ground beef quality. It was either this or circus meat. And yes, they look as appetizing as I make them sound.



Geographically, you may be noting, they aren't even Midwestern by origin. North of Maryland and all. Yet of all the places I've lived or visited friends and loved ones, I've seen more freezer-burned telltale red boxes far and away the most in our fair region. Something about shitty meat that really seems to strike a chord around these parts.

And how to describe the taste ...

Ever visit a pioneer village or historical throwback event? And you hear weathered women talk about making candles out of fat? You may have been wondering how animal fat can be coaxed into a serviceable candle. Once you cook your first SteakUmm - microwave or pan-fry, it's shitty either way - you'll wonder no longer. A massive amount of fat leaks out, then with nowhere to go seemingly attains a limited sentience. If you listen close enough, you can hear a mournful hiss, almost like ... "killllll meeee."

Could just be the last guy to eat one of these, thouhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifgh.

Nutritionally, they're not as much of a time bomb as you'd imagine - 100 calories per ... sheet? Though 80 percent of that is from fat. You'll get decent amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, but to be honest it's nothing horrific, especially compared to Arby's or Taco Bell. No, the horror here comes entirely from the taste and appearance.

And the website.

Imagine every food you love. Now sub out the protein base and insert shitty pink sheets of low-grade beef. Viola - it can be done, and SteakUmms is here to show you how on its recipe page. Tellingly, there are no pictures for any of these. I'm fairly certain that if the Greeks had these SteakUmms gyros, they wouldn't have invented democracy. All your favorites are here, just waiting to be ruined at home! Just make sure you don't call up anything you can't put down.

"What Did You Eat For Dinner? I Bet It Was Heroin!"

Getting ready for school in Ohio is awesome.
I don't have any kids, but I've watched a few of them in my day. For every kid that's reasonably well behaved, there are 10 that can be scientifically labeled "bratty little assholes". And no matter how you want to take care of them, there are all of these unspoken "rules" society frowns upon breaking. The masses get their panties in a bunch if you spank your kid, or even yell at them. Even grounding your kids can get you a stern talking-to from your local SuperParent.

There are many perfectly acceptable ways to raise your kids that society seems to frown on. Add "Giving your teenagers heroin before school to help with a toothache" to the ever-growing list.

Take it away, Logan, OH!
Ohio State University Police on Friday evening arrested a mother who is accused of injecting her teenage children with heroin before sending them to school, according to ONN's affiliate WBNS.
According to investigators, Shantel A. Parker injected her children, ages 14 and 16, with heroin and had been giving them heroin and other drugs for months.
Sheriff’s deputies said that the children told them their mother started to give them drugs to treat pain for a toothache.
Hopefully this lady gets a book deal. I've been waiting for someone to expand on the potential that LSD has in potty training for years.

27 February 2012

Midwesternist Macabre Monday: The John Dillinger Museum, Hammond, IN


Just over the state line from the south-side of Chicago is Hammond, Indiana. As much as the denizens of Hammond may claim otherwise, it's a drab, run-down town with an interesting past but no future. People who actually live in Chicago know that there are only a few justifiable reasons to ever go to Hammond, and they are:

  • Getting cheaper gas and cigarettes.
  • Attempting to double your paycheck at one of Northwest Indiana's many casino boats.
  • Purchasing fireworks.
  • Peering inside the windows of darkened liquor stores on Sundays because of the ridiculous blue laws that are still on the books.
But there's another reason one might want to venture to Hammond, and that reason is The John Dillinger Museum at the Indiana Welcome Center.

John Dillinger is a figure ingrained in Chicago's history, but a lot of the shenaniganshe pulled were across the state line. He was born in Indiana. He's buried in Indiana. In between, he robbed Indiana banks, murdered an Indiana policeman, and escaped an Indiana jail. Sure, he may have been gunned down outside The Biograph in Chicago, but the feds brought along a few vengeance-seeking Indiana cops for the assassination.

Aside from historical documents, interactive exhibits, and a life-sized wax figure of Dillinger, your $4 lets you see some interesting memorabilia associatedwith the legendary criminal, including:
The wooden gun he used to escape the Crown Point jail.

Dillinger's lucky rabbit's foot.

The pants he was wearing when he was shot.

So if you need to fill up your gas tank on the cheap or you're running low on your stash of illegal fireworks to sell out of your trunk to children in Pilsen, consider checking out this piece of Hoosier history. The Dillinger Museum is open 10am to 4pm. And, unlike Indiana liquor stores, the museum is seven days a week