Saturday, March 30, 2013

5 overachievers/ underachievers for your fantasy league

5 Overachievers:

1. Chisenhall-  Have you ever read the works of the psychotic dictator, Shan Yu?  Now we meet the real Lonnie Chisenhall.

2. Brantley- Bigger and better.  A high contact rate meets a bigger build on frictionless plain, that equals breakout season.

3. Stubbs-  Karma!  Brandon Phillips lite.  Power, speed, and a comeback. 

4. Santana- Meet your most talented hitter. The contact rate ain't great.  But it's hard contact. 

5. Masterson- Holy hell people, you're picking Bud Norris and Ricky Nolasco ahead of Masterson (Average Draft Position).  No, no, no, no. 

5 Overachievers

1.  Swisher has put up nearly identical numbers the last 3 years.  Believe the average not the breakout. 

2. Cabrera- The power will not repeat. 

3. Michael Bourn.  Won't walk and less stolen bases.

4.  Chris Perez.  Eventually.

5.  Ryan Raburn. Spring numbers are meaningless.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

How I won fantasy league last year.

My youngest brother has fallen on tough times.  He lives in a Crown Vic and can be found on Euclid between I-90  and MLK.  Joe's a hand lotion salesmen with harry knuckles.  It's a hard life, but he loves his work. 

Last year, he picked up a roommate (or carmate (?)).  Joe gets the front seat and AJ the back.  It is hard for me to imagine.  I have a hard time sharing my row at a ballgame.  Seriously, you are going to the bathroom with a full count?   

But despite his obscene fingers, Joe has always had a kind soul.  And Joe's friendship with AJ won me my fantasy league last year.  What AJ lacks in personal hygiene he makes up tenfold in fantasy baseball advice. 

AJ's advice from last year:

"Get Ortiz and Jeter late.  Ride their mad points until they get hurt.  Then cut bait."
"Trout.  Trout.  Good fishy.  Good fishy."
"Kimbrel is an elite closer.  Treat him as such."
"I see a ten thousand demons dancing in your eyes."

Not all of AJ's advice is useful.  But much is fantasy gold.  Here's AJ's advice for the coming year.

"Utley is last year's Ortiz."
"Trout leftovers aren't as good, but still pretty damn good."
"We have never seen a confident Lonnie Chisenhall.  Look for him late."
"Matt Holliday is available at your cut rate travel agent."
"Ain't no one that can bring middle round value like me, way over yonder in the Mike Minor key."
"Ants are crawling beneath my skin."

Now, AJ is literally barking at me.  If it turns out to have fantasy baseball value, I will report back. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It is I, the great and powerful ttfc

The ttfc (thatteamfromcleveland) has always been a man behind the curtain.  Ignore the illogical rationalizing!  Obey the provocative opinions! 

I love thinking and writing about the Tribe, but I shy from an internet presence.  I don't want to go down a series of tubes.  That just doesn't sound pleasant. 

Plus, it is all so confusing.  What is the difference between Twitter, a RSS feed, and a blog?  Let's just say that things were simpler in my times.  Tell the town gossip.  Word will get around. 

However, this year, I have decided to make some of my work available at The Tribe Daily.  I've read Nino's blog for years, and when he made the opportunity available, I jumped, tubes be damned.

However, the chance to write for The Tribe Daily requires that I step from behind the facade that I erected to protect my privacy.  It is I, Bryan Belknap, the man behind the curtain.  I am ttfc. Ignore all my post about Matt LaPorta!  Read my keen insight into Michael Brantley!

There is a daily deluge e-mails asking "who is ttfc?", "what is ttfc's back story?," and "why does every idiot think he/she can write about baseball?"

Well, here is a bit of my back story.  I wasn't born in Cleveland.  I was born in Iowa, childhood home of Superman and birth place of Bob Feller. 

In fact, I grew up with Bob Feller.  He lived catty corner to my childhood home. 

That is right, I grew up with Mr. Cleveland Indian, "Rapid Robert".  Bob Feller is deservedly the most beloved Cleveland Indian.  He was a war hero, a key force in Cleveland's last World Series win, winner of awards innumerable, and Tribe ambassador for over half a century.  If you want to name your child, "Feller," I understand.

But as a kid, I hated him.

Oh yeah, screw your scorn!  You weren't there.  You don't know.  Who wants to play ball with a seven year old that throws in the mid-90s?  We would play catch, and I come home crying with blisters on left hand.  I can still hear my mom saying, "I don't want you playing catch with the Feller boy, anymore." 

You want to know when I first contemplated my own mortality?  The first time we drew straws to be Bob's catcher.  Yeah, we drew straws to be Bob's catcher.  If my personality seems a bit off-kilter, know that I played kiddie Russian Roulette during the summers of my childhood. 

And do you know what it is like trying to learn how to hit a baseball, when you can't even see the pitch?  To this day, I can' hit a softball.  I am still trying to work out the funk Bob put into my swing.  For me, the pitcher winds up and then the catcher cries.  There is no crying in baseball?  You didn't grow up playing with Bob.

As an adult, I can appreciate what a great human being Bob Feller was.  Please, don't take this as a slam on Bob Feller.  I'll never be half the human Bob Feller was.  But he terrorize my childhood.  Doctors say that I may never regain full feeling in my left hand. 

You wanted to know about me.  Well, here I am.  Me and my weak handshake.  I am the great and powerful ttfc. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

WBC: old vs new

WBC as a study in change.

Old school unwritten rules vs. New obscure rules.
Old international powers (Japan, Cuba, US, Korea) vs. New upstarts (Italy, Brazil, China, the Netherlands)
Old baseball organ vs. new vuvuzelas and cow bells.
Old complaints interleague play vs. new complaints international play.
Old "this interferes with the MLB season" vs. new "this will grow the sport globally."
Old change is bad vs new change is inevitable.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Terry Francona

I'm going to gush a little.

But cut me some slack, I'm a die hard Cleveland sports fan.  And let's face it we have been left at the alter more than a few times.  Not to bring up bad memories, but we have been there.  All dressed in white with a nervous smile and he says that he is taking his talents to south beach.  And Thome professed his love and then left........(sure, we later hooked up thanks to facebook)...but that was a hard moment.  Manny left us, but he was always a cad.  Let' face it.  We have had a checkered love life.  

But with Francona, I feel like Sally Fields.  This is a Kosar moment.  The nation doesn't get the whole Lebron backlash.  But we put a higher premium on loyalty around here.  Was Kosar the best QB ever?  Damn right, he was.  Don't give me your fancy numbers.  He chose us.  End of story.

The Francona signing feels that way.  Sure, he is here cause he wants to work with his friends, Shapiro and Atonetti (which is cool on its own).   But it feels like he is here, because he loves Cleveland.  He chose us.  National pundits found it puzzling.  What no one would want to marry me?  Screw you, guys!  Meet our new manager. 

I'm no Shawn Spencer.  I don't know what the future will bring.  I don't expect Cleveland to make the playoffs this year.  But come hell or high water, I am a Terry Francona fan.   

Checkout the new digs on that site

The Tribe Daily is launching it new fancy format.  I am jealous.  It looks great.

My intro is appearing there.  I think it kinda funny and worthy of the internet.  But don't let Nino lie to you.  He did save my life.  I do have an extremely thin skull.  I am in danger of cracking my skull at any moment.  I can crack my skull just by pushing my finger like this.  Oh crap, better call Dr. Wundernickel.  Anyway go check it out.  I am off to the urgent care. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The year ahead at ttfc

Thanks everyone.  There has been sooo much e-mail that I may to have to have e-mail Thursdays. Monty, you and your family are in my thoughts.  Again, thanks for the out pouring of support.  Most of you have been great.  A few of you will be hearing from my attorney about restraining orders.  But I love all feedback.  Keep it coming.

Okay, maybe I am exaggerating things.  Hehehe, I am not.  Ttfc hasn't quite hit Beiber-esque popularity.  But, it is pretty close, and I being completely serious.  The response to this blog has been amazing.  You are all beautiful people.  I am hearing your cries to go worldwide.    But people remember that keeping it real comes at a price.

Nevertheless, there are exciting things are happen here at ttfc.

[The Tribe Daily]

First, I'd like to encourage you to bookmark and check out The Tribe Daily.  Once upon a time, I tried to write daily recaps of all things Cleveland baseball.  But you know what?  Why do the same thing that others are doing better?  I was, eh, okay.  But if you want a daily rundown of baseball events from ttfc, throw your computer out of the window.  Throw it now. 

You want to know what is happening with the Tribe check out The Tribe Daily.  Ttfc is about fun, facts, and .... (you know I am looking for another word starting with 'f') ... friction ... too dirty ... failure .. too self-revealing ... fandango ... too confusing.  Screw it.  ttfc is about fun, facts, and baseball. 

This year, you will be getting some of my careful work over at The Tribe Daily.  You know, stuff that is proofred.  *rolls eyes*  There is a series on the Tribe starting staff in works.  (The B-material will be kicked to ttfc or ESPN.)  So, look forward to that.

[ttfc, reaching the unconverted]

I love baseball.  When I write serious pieces about it, I spend real time researching, organizing, and formulating.  I make no claims to be a baseball expert, but I care and give it an honest effort.  With some pieces, I have a clear vision from the beginning.  Others are a labor of love.

What I realized as a struggled through a particular tough piece is that I can kick out crazy shit on the side, no problem.  I sensed such a feeling a freedom.  It was Shawshank freedom, where the truth is the shit and filth you need to crawl through to get to creativity.  You emerge with a blog ready piece. 

My personal introduction to The Tribe Daily is a piece that I like.  If you want more pieces like this, I am am happy to oblige.  I feel a daily urge to push out writing like this.  I've forced out another piece like this, the Breaking Bad's Jesse meets Cleveland baseball blog.  It is okay, but I can do better. [Most of the shit I write is for lemmings, family, and the two friends I have remaining/more lemmings.  Edit out later.]  That was my first run, and I was all blocked up.

Anyway, if the teaming, steaming masses want it, I will oblige.  It will be things that I was thinking about while writing about baseball.  I have a special place each morning.  I think hard about baseball.  Sometimes, I really strain.  And I have had more than one revelation there, but not something that will win your fantasy league.

Comment, if you are interested. 

[Life is just a fantasy ... ]

I  am researched up and ready to go.  I feel very comfortable with points league questions about any player in baseball.  But I have no clue how many stolen bases Miguel Cabrera is likely to get.    But, pick a player and I'll give you movie cowboy comparables.

 [I am who I am]

This is still the same blog that called the emergence of both Masterson and Brantley.  Would have helped your fantasy team that year, huh?  I know it did mine.  (Ignore all LaPorta articles.  I repeat.  Ignore all LaPorta articles on ttfc.)

Of course, you and everyone else read my post comparing Tomb Raider the movie to results batters get by not swinging, fouling, or walking.  People seemed to love that post.  I just can't seem to recapture the magic of Angelina Jolie, NSFW.  I didn't think it was my best work, but obviously the people have spoken.

I'll make no apologies when I do hardcore baseball analysis.  And I will make no apologies when I do weird stream of consciousness stuff.  I hope some baseball people stick around, because I put a bunch of effort in those pieces.  I hope some non-baseball people stick around for the wacky stuff.  I enjoy and care about those pieces as well.

But if not, jokes on you. 'Cause no one is reading anyway.  Muhahaha..  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Cleveland baseball fan, scientifically....

Why should you be a Cleveland baseball fan?  Are you like Liz, Floyd and all good people that simply love the Cleve?  Maybe you egged Albert Belle's house as a kid, he chased you down in his SUV, and now you feel nostalgic?  Maybe you're just a fan of SCIENCE?

You're totally freaking now, right?    

That is right, science.  'Cause devotion to the Tribe is all about science.  You know moneyball, yo!  Like when, you have all sorts of formulas, equations, and stuff and use them to like prove stuff.  And moneyball proves that it always makes sense to love Cleveland baseball.  If you haven't seen Moneyball, you totally should cause it'll change things, man. 

To totally get it, you'll need a little like astrophysics.  'Cause complex shit is going down.  And don't give me that I am sooo smart.  Ohhhh you get Pere Ubu?  Yeah right, poser.  Why don't you try listening with your ears?

You see I saw this special on PBS.  In astrophysics, there are these black holes that like entrap stars.  All they do is drain the stars that are like forced in their orbit, a one way suck.  All light, hope, and heat is drained into their abyss.  It's a one way street towards disappointment and depression, if we are speaking scientifically.  (And we are definitely talking about science and not my own feelings.)

I won't bore you with numbers, because it's science.  But last August was like a baseball black hole.  Again, and I can't stress this enough, my continual crying last August played no role in this number-crunching science.  Cleveland baseball could bring like Einstein to tears, scientifically speaking.

And don't be all, but Bryan, that doesn't sound like a reason to love the Tribe.  Maybe you don't learn because you don't stop talking.   

'Cause like that black hole went all Nova on your ass this off season.  Boom.  Swisher signed.  We got Stubbs.  We got Reynolds.  We got Aviles.  And other shit went down. Then double boom.  Super Nova!  Bourn signed. 

Cleveland soooo improved its team in the off-season.  If you look at complex formulas involving improving power, speed, and defense you totally get how much better the Tribe is.  That is, science says we are better.  I won't bore you with the details.  'Cause it's all blah, blah, blah.  But the numbers prove it. 

Then I had this total revelation.  Black holes, numbers, super nova, moneyball.  And I am like Bryan you fucking genius.  I am like that lady that died from radiation and discovered shit.  Cleveland baseball is like the cosmos.  And what?  You're not going to believe in the cosmos?  Huh?  You gotta love the cosmos. 

So take that bitches.  Proof.

So hurray science!  Hurray, Cleveland!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A quick word on the WBC

Watched some games last night. 

It was interesting baseball.  The players clearly cared.  The stadiums looked packed, and the fan were into it.  I love baseball.  It try to get to as many minor league and major league games as I can.  These games are more meaningful and exciting than any minor league game.  And again, I love minor league baseball. 

And growing the sport internationally will lead to a better MLB.  It will increase the player pool.  Plus, it will only improve the leagues financial stability.  A model for the sports world is the English Premiere league.  Imagine growing baseball into South America (Brasil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, etc.)  South America is experiencing economic growth.  There baseball would be in our off-season.  Unlike Asia leagues, MLB would not compete with a robust South American league. 

P.S.  Injuries can happen anytime.  Thank goodness Chris Perez didn't hurt himself as part of the WBC, cause the vitriol would be through the roof. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chris Perez Injury and Evolving Expectations

Why didn't Cleveland simply state that Perez was injured when they scratched him from the lineup?

The way it was handled caused a speculation frenzy. Cleveland basically said Perez is scratched and the reason is a mystery to be revealed later.

Social media flashes are uninteresting in themselves. Yes, someone was speculating on Twitter that Perez had a PED suspension. But I wasn't. No one on my Twitter feed was. So, the fact that someone was my making wild guesses about Perez leaves me cold. You can rant about modern life, but yawn.

As we waited roughly an hour to get the straight story, I realized that if Perez were traded, I'd be disappointed. Even if the trade were a good one for the team in the long term, my expectations have changed since December. I want to see how this season plays out. Let's see if Detroit is going to be healthy. Let's see how the various piece on the Tribe fit together.

This team has me intrigued. That wasn't true in December. I thought this team has no chance of playing meaningful games in September. If they made a decent trade in December, I would think, "Gotta get value when you can."  Now, let's roll the dice with this bunch.  While Detroit is still the on paper favorite, my expectations have evolved. I want to see this team play for awhile. Cause, maybe, just maybe...

Ohio band spotlight: Bethesda