Wednesday, February 25, 2009

State of the Union on 3B Fantasy Sports.. and Fantasy Hockey Predictions

Well that time of the year has come where fantasy hockey is about to turn into playoff fantasy hockey, and I am just fine with that. A few months ago our football seasons ended, and as I mentioned before, some re-ranking of our career players had naturally occurred. For the first time since then I have re-upped the Performance Percentage to see who has done the most with the least amount of effort… I shockingly remain an abysmal doofus.

The obvious outlying performer for now is Mr. Quinton, who in his first and only Dynasty Football season racked up 2 points for second place. His 200% is one of those rare anomalies we can document and appreciate, but will be astronomically hard to maintain. Outside of his above-par performance, Ken, Eric, and Korey maintain percentages above 100.

While Greg has only 1 season in which he won nothing, albeit he made the 3rd place game, there are no historically active players with a 0 percentage any longer. Newman’s big 3rd place finish gives him a round 10 percent, and Ford leaps several with a victory to claim 40 percent.

I think I will make some predictions for how hockey will end up at the end of the season.

In the Traditional hockey league, 3 teams sit above 300 points and 3 sit between 296 and 293. I think these 6; ilikebacon, High Glove Side, Hockey Team, O-Pee-Chee, Ohio Sucks!, and the Winnipeg Jets go to the playoffs.

ilikebacon is the most likely to win it all, probably going in as the first overall seed. Carrying Alex Ovechkin and Backstrom of the Caps, ‘bacon has over 10 wins in every offensive category save for shorties. So I think the finals will be the bacon over the streaking High Glove Side. My team, O-Pee-Chee, is too inconsistent to run the playoffs.

If ilikebacon were to pull it off, Sara would be our first ever female to score points or win a league.

On the Dynasty Hockey side, some very tight competitive play has seen I think 5 or 6 different 1st place teams this year. A favorite has to be New Andy’s Atlant Mytishchi. Andy is the current back to back champion of hockey, and in great form again this year, tied for 1st with Howie’s Dynamo Riga at 315 points. Atlant has the stronger set of players and goaltending for the stretch, and will make the finals.

It is a seven team race for the playoffs, with the 5th through 7th sitting on 286-284 in points. I predict the odd team out of the run to be the very dominant early in the season Avangard Omsk Oblast, managed by Cover. He’s just dropped too many weeks as of late.

Finals match-up, I think again Alex Ovechkin will have a lot to say, pushing my HC Spartak Moscow up against Atlant. Big big big big IF will be if Ryan Miller gets healthy. Goaltending injuries could drop me and Dynamo or Medium’s Sibir Novosibirsk may pounce.

We’ll see who is in the run in just about 3 weeks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When I was your age, I played in a closet

Retro gaming, god I love it. Damman mentioned last night that with our respective bouts of retro fever, he picking up the new Street Fighter and myself opting for the Sega Genesis collection, we were both feeling like kids again. I mentioned I always feel like a child, then corrected myself and opted for the more appropriate “I always ACT like a child.” None the less, I enjoyed my walk down memory lane to the tune of $30 and figured we could have a chat about it.

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection on the 360 has a tremendous 40 titles from what I could gather was 1988-1995. Filled with every Sonic game, Streets of Rage Game, Phantasy Star, and even Ecco 1 and 2, it’s a big piece of nostalgia. Plugging the game in to a CD drive does not give the same satisfaction of snapping a cartridge into a port, but once it booted and I heard the muted “Seeeegaaaaaaa” come out the speakers, I knew I was home.

For me, my Genesis years were spent in a closet. Stop the jokes, I really mean a closet, not a figurative one. I shared a bedroom with my brother and in it we had a closet about 12 feet long and 4 feet deep. In the back corner we stuffed a tiny TV, our Genesis (and later my Sega CD) and a bean bag chair. Many an hour was spent hiding away in that corner conquering the kind of cartoonish villains today’s games seem to have drifted away from. I thought for a moment about stuffing my 47” into my tiny closet at home and playing, but realized that just was not gonna work. Ahh progress.

I’ll give the Collection an A+ for throwback effort as the menu of the disc does its best to replicate the top down look of a Sega. Scrolling through the 40 titles is easy, as you can sort alphabetically, by year, or genre. I jumped right into Sonic the Hedgehog and realized I blow. Seriously, today’s games have made me so nervous about crossing a platformer screen, I did not possess the speed and prowess needed to even complete Act I. From here I moved onto Sonic Spinball, and had a blast remembering how much I cursed this game in the past. The difference today is I possess a greater amount of curse words which to use.

What I really need, is my brother here so we can beat Streets of Rage in 3 hours flat, and then move onto some Golden Axe. What the Collection needs is to cut the crap with this “Now in HD!!” selling point. Look, I don’t know what you did to tweak these games and say they are HD now; the sound is still 16 bit, graphics are 16 bit, and you have to pattern out the extra 6 inches of space on my cinematic TV because they are still 4:3 games. Just sell the collection for what it is, nostalgia, and forget trying to sex it up.

Overall, I want to march through the first level of each of these classics and feel like a kid again. My only hope is that someday when I have children, my 13th Xbox 360 might still be alive and I can show them what daddy used to play when he was in the closet.

Score: 3 out of 5 mountain dew fueled adolescent gaming parties

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Album You Missed: Blink-182

(The Album You Missed is a recurring feature which describes a great album from the past that well, you might have missed and should probably go out and listen to. Seriously, just even download it on-line, it will take you 6 minutes.)

Sorry for the lack of posting, I can’t fathom how busy I have been as of late. Work and life (although I am quite happy with the latter taking up more time) have kept me hectic as of late. This post itself is fairly poorly written, but I am too excited about recent events to put off this post till I have more time to really do it. So without further delay, I present you with an album I am so stoked to be re-evaluating right now, the 2004 self titled release, Blink 182.

As many of you know, Blink announced a revival of the band this week at the Grammys. For myself, no other band save for Green Day, has had the effect on musical taste as Blink has. I could not be more pumped for this re-union. One thing that amps up the joy is the note the band released via their web site stating they would be picking up the new album right where they left off with the last, their 2004 self titled release. This is fantastic news, because as you will learn, this album presented the pinnacle of Blink 182’s sound and musical evolution.

Following on 4 albums of pop-punk, potty humor, and skate-punk culture, Blink evolved with a ground breaking, mature album. The first single Feeling This didn’t break too far from the prior mold of Blink music, but the critically acclaimed, I Miss You changed the perception of the band greatly, topping out at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100. I Miss You became a ballad built on class and elegance, pulling at emotions prior Blink songs never had. Other singles Down and Always built on this more mature and serious tone for Blink, adding to the notion the band could now seriously write music, and not just jokes.

Naturally, true Blink fans knew the band could write and knew the boys could thrash before all this. Travis Barker remains the best drummer in the genre, and Tom and Mark flow together like captain and coke. The rest of Blink 182 carried gems like the Robert Smith featured All of This, the head thrashing Violence, and instrumental powered The Fallen Interlude. Each song carried lyrical weight, messages about love, family, war and peace that no track in the band’s history ever quite accomplished.

Now with Travis recovered from a tragic plane crash, and the hatchet between the three buried, we can only hope to be reunited with the music they were just starting to learn to create. I implore you to go out and listen to this one, prepare for the gifts you are about to receive from the kings of pop-punk.

Score: 5 out of 5 enemas

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Time to bring the pizazz back to Detroit

So this has been on my mind for awhile, but really was chipped into my head this weekend. The Red Wings are old. Ironic considering I just watched three Grand Rapids call ups play and score in the Wings versus Capitals game this weekend, which Medium and other friends joined me in D.C. for. The Caps won 4-2, and they won thanks to three goals from two electrifying young players, Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green. Now when I call the Wings old, I don't mean the players, I mean the organization, the owners, the mindset.

I write this tonight (during a really boring Super bowl) to hopefully better my beloved Wings. I think it is time to take a fresh look at how the team markets and sells its product to the fans. Detroit and Michigan is mired in a horrid economic downturn and people claim this is why the Joe is empty even during the Stanley Cup finals. I think with a different look at how you display the greatest team in the world to the fans, some of that can change. The perfect example of how to market a hockey team? The Washington Capitals.

When I was home for Thanksgiving, I saw a first in my life. A token female "Crowd Pleaser." This is the girl they have roaming the crowd during stoppage of play, giving away gifts and food on the big screen with trivia and random drawings. These crowd pleasers are designed to draw people to a game with more of a chance to win bonus value from their presence. The Red Wings are a part of the NHL's vanguard. One of the original six, second most ever in cups, the best player ever, the best captain ever, the best defensemen ever. Gimmicks don't fly here. No dancers, no crowd pleasers please.

Most teams have this type of roamer now, I get this, The Caps have it too. What the Capitals do that the Wings don't however, is market their stars. Alex O is all over D.C. Buses, buildings, tattoos. Yzerman was once on a building, but what now? The Capitals make you feel as if their young stars are superheros. What happens after a goal? The crowd is witness to an animated hero of their player on the big screen. AO scores, and the "Russian Machine" takes the jumbo; Mike Green, he becomes the Incredible Hulk; Backstrom morphs into Thor. Real life heroes marketed as fictional heroes, the crowd loves it, it builds the persona.

The team tries its damnedest to make you connect and love the players on a personal level as well. Copying down to the on screen graphics and camera style, is the "Caps Cribs" intermission show. The young players show off their homes, cars and an abundant amount of personality.

These are simple things, but they have a point. They build emotion, they build a connection beyond the stat sheet and overly boring post game interviews. The Red Wings may feel that simply by being the Wings, they should be loved and admired, and the true red and white do, lord knows I do. Why not build off of that base though? How much do we really know about Pavel, Lids, or Z? Happy Huds is hilarious when we get any kind of a look at him. Surely there must be ways to make our Detroit heroes seem bigger than just players, something more than just athletes, something that Detroit can embrace maybe just a margin more than they do now.

This may never change while Mike the pizza man owns the team, and I love the way he runs it, but I wish he would take a little inspiration from one of the youngest, fastest, and most animated teams in the league, and market our team, stars and history with a little more pizazz then a glorified puck bunny giving away free hair cuts.