Week before Turkey Week Spar

Joe to Greg

I’m curious…what are your thoughts on the MLB Regular Season awards? Anything you would’ve switched? I’m anxiously waiting for the Patriots-Panthers game to start and I think Carolina is dangerous right now. We’ll touch on that more in the coming responses I’m sure. I wasn’t surprised with many of the outcomes of this past weekends games. With two exceptions; the Ravens loss and the basic implosion of the Atlanta Falcons. I’m truly surprised the Falcons are playing this bad right now. The thing that doesn’t surprise me is Peyton Manning at night and the inconsistency of the New York Jets, who are amazingly still in the playoffs. How are the fantasy teams doing in football as the playoffs approach?

Greg to Joe

If you are curious about my thoughts on the awards, check out the Dojo MLB Awards post. I called every award except for AL Manager of the Year. I think that was absurd, but that’s still not the one that upsets me most. Kieth Law said it best for me when referring to the AL MVP vote…

 

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Even though I expected the writers to get it wrong, I still get outraged. Mike Trout is so much better of a baseball player than Miguel Cabrera. Period. End of Story. There is a reason that there are Silver Slugger awards and the Hank Aaron awards. They are for the best hitters, and MVP is for the best player. I’m not going to rant further, but Trout is a much better overall baseball player. It’s just fact. Read TroutMiggyALMVP2012_Danchik piece (a personal article I wrote over a year ago and didn’t have a place to post until I started this site) and the 2013 Dojo MLB Awards.

On to football! The Ravens’ loss shouldn’t have been unexpected. That game was a toss up in a muddy field. Two teams that are great franchises that are having very sub-par seasons. I would say the Ravens are out of it now, except, they really are not. If the Bengals stumble in one more game than the Ravens do, the Ravens can steal the division. This isn’t likely. I am expecting no playoff berth. I think the Patriots lose tonight. The Panthers are really good. I think their defense is something that shouldn’t be messed with. It could be a game that was very similar to the Patriots’ loss to the Bengals, but I think there will be some more points than that. Basically I am saying I would be nervous too if I was a Pats’ fan.

Fantasy football, I am done after this year. I will be exclusively playing fantasy football on DraftStreet.com and other daily fantasy sites. Football is such a week to week sport that yearly teams really do not make sense. Anyway, I am going to make the playoffs in all of my leagues. I think. I have to keep winning in the ESPN league, but the Yahoo league I am pretty much set for a playoff berth. I just need to fix my RGIII situation… How about yourself?

Joe to Greg

Last year, because of the rare occurrence of witnessing a Triple Crown I gave the nod to Cabrera. This year I think people got lost in the “homerun hype” between Cabrera and Baltimore’s Chris Davis. I agree Trout should have won because he can be used more and just contributes more to his team. As long as Miggy keeps swinging he’s going to get looked at and rightfully so, his batting averages from the past three seasons are impressive. (2013: .348, 2012: .330, and 2011: .344…all three averages were league leaders. I feel like we talk about this all the time…moving on…

The Patriots-Panthers game last night was basically what I expected score wise. I was surprised by the lack of drives and overall possessions; there were only 14 total drives. To put that into perspective, the Denver Broncos-Kansas City Chiefs had 27 drives between them. I’m not going to discuss the last play/controversial penalty because that didn’t decide the game. Stevan Ridley fumbled the ball in the redzone or right outside of it in the first half and then the Patriots corners blew tackles to give the Panthers the late touchdown in the fourth quarter. If Ridley never fumbles and at the bare minimum the Patriots make a field goal on that drive then the score is now 24-23 with a minute left, not 24-20. Being down four forced Brady to think endzone not field goal. Can’t be salty about this loss because it was a good game. The Panthers simply made more plays.

Fantasy football in Yahoo! I lost and I’m done. Really don’t plan on putting too much attention there since my team never scores. In ESPN, I’m 8-3 and I feel great about my team but I’m with you…I’m retiring the ESPN/Yahoo leagues next year and just dealing with Draftstreet. How do you feel about the NBA in the past week? Also, what are your thoughts on Michael Jordan‘s pick up team? Can you draft a team to beat his?

MJ’s Team:

  1. James Worthy
  2. Magic Johnson
  3. MJ
  4. Scottie Pippen
  5. Hakeem Olajuwon

Greg to Joe

Panthers game was nice. I only watched the last drive cuz it had big implications in our Draftstreet battle. If Tom Brady threw a touchdown to anyone, but Gronk, you win that matchup. I think the Panthers are legit and are going to be a playoff team. I am very interested for the Ravens-Pats game coming up soon. That should be a great one in late December. You have no idea how these teams will be playing then, but I am still excited. It will have big playoff implications such as whether the Ravens get in and what the Patriots’ seed will be.

MJ’s pick up team is gonna be so easy to beat. I got you right here MJ! I won’t even use any of your players. I am going to go BIG

This is how I go:

jamesandthegiantpeach

(Photo/Photoshop Cred: Dan Dicce)

PG – LeBron James – He is a monster. Magic Johnson, but bigger. He is the greatest player I have ever seen. Obviously, I have never seen MJ play or Magic, but LeBron is better than Kobe in my opinion. Rings are a team based thing, not individual. If they were individual, the Pistons would not have won a title in 2004. And pick up games are not about titles, they are about physical prowess and dominance. Gimme LeBron in every pick up situation. Including 1 vs 1 against MJ, but that is a different argument.

SG – Oscar Robertson – The Big O, basically averaged a triple-double his whole career. Nuff said.

SF – Larry Bird – Larry Bird has the jumper to play the 3 and can get boards. I am hoping my team plays in the paint big time anyway with Bird popping out for 3’s.

PF – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – All-time scoring leader and a dominant post scorer. Excited to have him on the squad

C – Shaq – Shaqtastic

I am expecting to play close to the rim and dominant down low with LeBron putting up like 25 assists and 15 points. He has the skills to do it.

What would your team look like? You can use my players, but not MJ’s.

Joe to Greg

Obviously I can’t duplicate players off of MJ’s but you and I have some similarities…one thing I noticed about MJ’s picks is you can tell he favors players from “his time”…his youngest player is Scottie Pippen who retired from the NBA in 2004 (Pippen played outside of the NBA until his official retirement in 2008). So I’m countering with more present players than past.

1- Kobe Bryant – Between him and James, this might be the most untouchable backcourt combo ever. If you’re playing against Michael Jordan, the most competitive basketball player in the history of the league, you’re going to need the second most competitive player in the history of the league to go head to head with him… enter Mr. Bryant.

2- LeBron James – He’s currently the best player in the world right now, why MJ never considered him is beyond me. He’ll be a matchup nightmare for MJ’s James Worthy/Magic Johnson combo.

3- Larry Legend – He’s a tall small forward and he shoots the lights out…basically the same reason you gave.

4- Shaquille O’Neal – I loved your pick of Shaq because he is a freak of nature with his size. He averaged a double double for the first 13 seasons in the league so I will gladly welcome the Shaqtus.

5- Tim Duncan – He’s been the best power forward that I’ve watched in my lifetime. Not much else to say because his fade away bank shot from the lower elbow is almost always going in.

My team is built off of players that can create their own shots and also the players who want the spotlight. Bird is my captain because if Kobe starts going into “Kobe-Mode”, basically shooting every time down the court, then Bird will have no problem benching Kobe and playing a man down. My last shot goes to Kobe obviously because he lives for the last 10 seconds of a game and nothing would satisfy him more than hitting a buzzer beater over MJ.

NCAA Football Thoughts

Greg

Marcus Mariota's Heisman chances will be affected by his loss against Stanford. (Photo Cred: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Marcus Mariota’s Heisman chances will be affected by his loss against Stanford. (Photo Cred: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Alabama will win a 3rd title. It is just a matter of who will they be destroying in the BCS Championship game. Personally, I think it will be Florida State, but Jameis Winston may not be able to play football at that point, so I expect another ‘Bama Blowout. The dream BCS bowl game for me would have to be Baylor vs Oregon. There could quite literally be 140 total points scored in that game. I can envision a scenario where the game is 70-70 going into overtime with Bryce Petty and Marcus Mariota showing the world why they should have won the Heisman over…

Heisman Pick: AJ McCarron

This year the Heisman trophy will be more of a career achievement award than anything else. McCarron has been great in his time at Alabama, but he hasn’t be rewarded with a Heisman because he isn’t the stat stuffer like RGIII or Johnny Manziel. The committee will know that he is enroute to his 3rd BCS Championship, and this Heisman Trophy will solidify him as one of the greatest college football players of all time.

Joe

  1. Alabama – they’re #1 in my eyes until someone beats them in the championship game.
  2. Florida State – an extremely talented team but I want to see them win another big game. Their win over then #3 Clemson was impressive but I think they are lacking another big game.
  3. Ohio State – 22-0 in the past two seasons speaks for itself. If you can call them a sleeper I’d like to see them slip into the National Championship game ahead of Florida State.
  4. Baylor – you can’t stop the offense. They average 61 points per game and only allow an average of 17.4. Who needs RGIII
  5. Oregon – now only did they lose to Stanford two weeks ago but in the following week, Stanford loses to USC. Talk about wishing you could have a game back…that’s two straight tough loses to Stanford in back to back seasons, it must be agonizing being an Oregon fan.

Heisman: Johnny Manziel

I didn’t want to put his name but I have to for the following reasons…

  1. Last season he threw for 3700 yards, 47 total touchdowns (26 pass/21 rush), and an average yards per passing attempt of 8.5. this season (with 2 games + an almost guarantee bowl game left) he has thrown for 3313 yards with 39 total touchdowns (31 pass/8 rush), and an YPA of 10.5. He’s improved his mechanics in the pocket and he isn’t running as much when you notice that he ran for 1410 yards last season compared to 611 this year. It’s a different Manziel but he’s still effective as ever.
  2. Check out this stat fact: In Texas A&M’s two losses this year (to Alabama and Auburn), Manziel has posted 1064 yards of total offense and has contributed to 83 points out of a possible 94 points.
  3. How he wins: Texas A&M’s next two games have huge implications for bowl games. They play at #22 LSU and then travel to #8 Missouri. If Manziel can lead them out of these two games unscathed while putting up big numbers, he has a huge case for a repeat winner.

Names to remember:

Bryce Petty – You know how Baylor averages 61 points per game? Well this QB is a big reason why.

Jameis Winston – I need to educate myself with this new story he is potentially involved in…or isn’t involved in…I just don’t know anything about his off the field activities. The dude knows how to play the QB position and you can’t scare him, he walked into #3 Clemson under the lights and torched them for 444 yards and 3 scores…as a freshman…sort of resembling something Manziel did last year in Alabama.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

Beyond the Arc – The First Edition

Welcome to the Dojo’s Beyond the Arc, a place for all things NBA, with a statistical spin. What a start to the season. As the season is two weeks deep, there are already some news worth noting. If you guessed that Russell Westbrook would miss only 2 games instead of 4-6 weeks, give yourself a pat on the back. If you guessed that the Philadelphia Sixers would take down the Heat on opening night, and Michael Carter-Williams would nearly get a QUADRUPLE-DOUBLE in his rookie debut, give yourself a day off. Historical Check: He was later named Player of the Week in the NBA, the second rookie ever to win the honors in his opening week and first since Shaquille O’Neal did it in 1992. Is it weird to start talking about Phoenix (5-2) looking more complete than Denver (2-4)? Why is Derrick Rose among the league leaders in turnovers? Regardless, here are some player and team trends so far.

Usage Percentage and Player Efficiency Rating: Derrick Rose’s turnover issues uncovered

First let’s not forget Derrick Rose hasn’t played competitive basketball in more than a year. He needs time to adjust but more on that in a minute. Here are some statistical reasons why he’s turning the ball over so much. Two big themes for future articles are Usage Percentage (USG%) and Player Efficiency Rating (PER). Simply put, USG% helps us analyze how many of a team’s total possessions a given player uses while he is in the game. PER accounts for the positive achievements (such as made field goals, made free throws, blocks, steals) and negative achievements (turnovers, missed shots, personal fouls) a player has throughout the game. The league average is 15. Take a look at an example to understand this more…

USG% Leaders (minimum of 6 games)

  1. 36.0 — DeMarcus Cousins, SAC
  2. 31.8 — Rudy Gay, TOR
  3. 31.0 — Kevin Durant, OKC
  4. 30.6 — Derrick Rose, CHI
  5. 29.9 — Ramon Sessions, CHA

The glaring fact here is that their respective teams heavily rely upon these players. To shed light on these numbers more, we use PER.

PER Leaders (minimum 6 games)

  1. 29.6 — Anthony Davis, NOP
  2. 29.2 — Kevin Love, MIN
  3. 28.8 — Kevin Durant, OKC
  4. 28.5 — Chris Paul, LAC
  5. 27.8 — DeMarcus Cousins, SAC

When you see these two numbers together, you can notice how they show overall player efficiency. Kevin Durant is the best example of this because he has a high USG%, meaning a high percentage of the Thunder’s total possessions in one game go through him. Noticing the fact that he ranks third in the league in PER, we can use these two factors as an indication of how efficient he is, given the high number of possessions he gets…having a high USG% and equally high PER means you’re very efficient. The same cannot be said for Derrick Rose, who ranks fourth in USG% (30.6). When you look at his PER though, things change. He ranks well out of the top 100, with a subpar 6.7…that’s not like the D-Rose we all know, who during his MVP season had a 23.5 PER. Turnovers are the hot topic, and per game, he averages 4.2 TO. Per 36 minutes, he averages 4.8. Using stats based off of 36 minutes will usually be higher depending on the particular category. When you reflect a player’s stats off of a closer interval, say 36 minutes, it helps to show individual’s performance and takes into account when someone is sitting on the bench and the fact that no one’s averages are based on them playing every minute. His PER is brought down because of his turnovers and his USG% tells us that the ball is going through him A LOT, inevitably leading to more turnovers. He will have to figure out how to pass more effectively but when you see those high turnover numbers it shouldn’t be that surprising anymore. After all, he carries the ball up the court almost every possession. Rose will get back into the swing of things; he is just trying to get some of the rust out. If he continues to jump and then pass in mid air to someone, the Bulls are doomed.

The Suns and the Sixers:

Well I’ll be honest I didn’t expect the Suns or the 76ers to hold the 3 and 5 spot in their respected conferences. It is early for the Suns but a nice combo of Eric Bledsoe (26.6 USG% and 25.4 PER) and Markieff Morris (21.4 USG% and 27.5 PER) has gone a long way in terms of their 5-2 start. The leagues top 5 leaders in Margin of Victory (MOV) begin with the Pacers, then Spurs, Warriors, Timberwolves, and the Heat. These all seem pretty self-explanatory but can you guess the number six holder? If it was obvious enough, the Phoenix Suns do with an MOV of 4.29. Up next, Brooklyn comes to town and then they have a back to back with the Sacramento Kings, on the horizon…November 25th, a date with the Heat in Miami. We’ll soon see what this team is made of.

Across the country, Philly is making there own noise. Michael Carter-Williams is boasting an incredible 17.4 ppg, 7.9 apg, 5.4 apg, and 2.6 spg. His shot selection can always improve, considering he is shooting 38% from the field, but he’s a rookie and there are great early signs. Evan Turner is starting to play like the 2nd overall pick in the 2010 draft. Turning in a nice 23.0 ppg, 63 rpg, 3.1 apg, and 20.2 PER through eight games. After winning their first 3, the 76ers have lost four of five. Hopefully, they have a little early season energy to stay competitive, but in a loaded draft next year, is winning games good? That’s a shot to the Celtics who made me extremely happy when they lost their four first games. They then succeeded to upset me by going on a four game win streak. If they get into the playoffs I’m paying anyone who e-mails me a question five bucks…this better not happen.

The Pacers are for real:

How real? Well to start their defense only allows 84.5 ppg. Then there is this quote from Roy Hibbert

“Everybody has to sacrifice something… It’s somebody different every night. I don’t expect to have 20-point nights all the time.”

When you play unselfishly and have that sort of mentality, you’re going to win games. We’ll be watching, Indiana, don’t forget you’re entering the spotlight now. By the way, Paul George’s stat line through eight games: 24.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.6 apg, 29.7 USG%, and 25.9 PER… a prime example of how to show up to start the season.

Dojo Power Rankings Top 10 (through 2 weeks and not reflecting any games from Nov 12th and on):

1. 8-0 Indiana Pacers (Paul George an easy favorite for best performance thus far. Roy Hibbert is dominating the defensive side as well, already with 35 blocks – 4.38 bpg)

2. 7-1 San Antonio Spurs (Classic Popovich. Working the deep bench and resting the vets…makes me like my finals pick more and more)

3. 4-3 Miami Heat (We haven’t seen the high intensity, lockdown defense for a whole game, they’ll save that for the playoffs but a lackadaisical start for LeBron’s standards. Still when they’re called upon late in games the Heat will show up to play…fun fact: the Lakers third go round to win three in a row saw them start 11-19, don’t fret Miami)

4. 5-1 Oklahoma City Thunder (It’s like the injury never happened…)

5. 5-3 Minnesota Timberwolves (Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are tearing it up…the health factor is big with this team but you can easily put them ahead of OKC or Miami right now…very scary team to face)

6. 5-3 Los Angeles Clippers (Chris Paul is the best player in Los Angeles. Yes, I said it)

7. 5-3 Houston Rockets (Hack-a-Dwight is back!!! More on this to come)

8. 4-3 Golden State Warriors (I really wish I took the under of 10 games before “Stephen Curry” and “ankle injury” was mentioned in a headline…luckily it was minor. They’re one of the fastest teams up and down the court in the league and they sure are entertaining)

9. 5-2 Portland Trailblazers (What do you make of a team that has loses to Phoenix and Houston but a big win against San Antonio?)

10. 4-3 Atlanta Hawks (My first thought wasn’t about the Hawks season, it was about how it took SEVEN Western Conference teams before we mentioned a THIRD Eastern Conference team…yikes…they’ve beaten 4 teams with a combined record of 10-19 – Toronto, Sacramento, Orlando, and Charlotte – the quality of the Eastern Conference everyone! Obviously, SAC is in the West)

Teams Looking In:

-Detroit Pistons: I’m just waiting for the Jennings-Smith-Monroe-Drummond core to click and mesh. They’ll be in this group eventually.

-Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose can’t struggle with turnovers forever…….right?

-Phoenix Suns: How long can the party last? I’m guessing another two weeks before the schedule starts to eat them up. I love being proven wrong though.

Teams Falling Out:

-Atlanta Hawks: Yes, I’m staring at you Atlanta. Their next six games, NYK, PHI, @NYK, @MIA, DET, @DET. I say they go 3-3.

-Portland Trailblazers: Remember there is only so much space in the Western Conference. Eventually teams like Detroit or Chicago will pull through in the East and one of these teams will have to fall out of the top 10.

***Best Hustle Play through 2 weeks***

Kawhi Leonard getting better with each possession. Great unselfish play.

Kawhi Leonard’s supreme hustle play

***Best Display of Fundamentals***

I’m a sucker for post moves but honesty I’m speechless. I didn’t know Andrew Bynum had it in him…especially over Noah.

Bynum’s got moves

***Hack-a-Dwight Special***

This is what happens when you foul Dwight Howard late in the game…

Stay tuned for Part II in the coming weeks and continue to enjoy.

-E-Mail: senseimeola@gmail.com

-@brosephmeola

George Springer – A Question of Playing Time

George Springer introduced as the Houston Astros' 2011 First Round Draft pick (Photo Cred: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)

George Springer introduced as the Houston Astros’ 2011 First Round Draft pick (Photo Cred: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)

A rookie is a rookie is a rookie used to be the saying for every rookie in the MLB, but I think that is starting to change. Minor league systems are better at developing players, and amatuer players are more developed when they are drafted/signed as well. George Springer, a 2011 draft pick out of the University of Connecticut, should be a starter in the Astros outfield and  will be a key piece in that lineup for the ‘Stros for years to come.  However, we only care about this year, and the key to Springer’s success this year is based purely on how much playing time George Springer gets. Springer is easily the most talented of the Astros’ outfield options, but he could be limited because he is the young guy. The most ridiculous bias in baseball. Anyway, I look into the projections for Springer and his ability to help your fantasy teams.

Throughout the minor leagues, Springer has had pretty good statistics. He has racked up 62 homers, 81 steals on 97 attempts (83.5 SB%), 51 doubles, and a .299 batting average over the course of 3 minor league seasons. He had his best season last year in AA and AAA with 37 homers and 45 steals. He almost went 40-40 in his 3rd year as a professional! Obviously, he wouldn’t have come that close in the majors, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled off 40-40 later in his career.

To get to his 2014 projection, I have to talk about his underlying statistics that are better at predicting his numbers for fantasy baseball.

In the minors, he has posted a BB% of 12.4, but a horrendous K% of 26.3% including a 30.9 K% when he made his initial jump to AA. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was around .370 throughout 2013. Looking forward to a jump into the major leagues this year, I would expect his BB% to drop and his K% to rise, and they would be around 11% BB% and a 27% K%. His BABIP should also drop to something between .320 and .330.

So the minor leagues do not do a good job keeping track of batted ball percentages so it is hard to make a good projection for this season. Either way, Springer’s minor league batted ball percentages look like he hits line drives on 18% of his contact, ground balls 45% of the time, and 37% of his hits are flyballs. During this past season, he hit 22% of his balls in the air out of the park. My conservative projection for his batted ball statistics in his initial major league year is 50% GB%, 18% LD, and 32% FB%. I also have him hitting 14% of his flyballs out of the park.

What does this all mean? Let’s put this into terms of the typical fantasy baseball owner. I think he will get about 550 PA this year if he makes the MLB team out of spring training. His underlying statistics produce a projected stat line that is poor in some areas, but good in others. It is also very conservative in my opinion. I have him having a .246 batting average, which would definitely hurt your fantasy team. However, this could easily turn out to be much higher because of his speed and he can get more infield singles than the average player (like Mike Trout). I also have him getting on base 186 times and taking off for second base 46 times. With an 80% success rate, he ends up with 37 stolen bases. Added to his 15 projected home runs, these counting stats are going to be valuable to your fantasy team. His stolen bases could end up higher than 40. If his batted ball stats don’t regress in his jump to the MLB, fantasy owners could be looking for a 25 homer and 40 SB season out of this rookie. His runs and RBIs are more dependent on his team, but I still have him around 55 runs scored and 70 RBIs.

Overall, Springer looks to be in for an interesting rookie season. If he gets the playing time and doesn’t struggle in the jump to the major leagues, we could be looking at a not-as-great-Mike Trout-type rookie season with less runs and RBI’s because of the Astros’ poor 2014 roster outlook. However, he could end up in the minors for 2014 and not working out for fantasy owners. I believe this will result in a big discount on draft day, and possibly, putting him on the waiver wire at the end of drafts. I would look for him in the mid-to-late rounds of your draft, especially if word gets out that he will be on the major league roster. If you are willing to take a small risk, I would make sure to have George Springer wherever you can in your 2014 fantasy baseball leagues. The way too early favorite for AL Rookie of the Year.

Greg Danchik

NFL, NBA and MLB: The All-in-One Spar

Greg to Joe

How’s it going mayne? I decided to start the sparring Sunday night because I have no time this week and its gonna be brutal.

draftstreetSo fantasy football has been so up and down for me. Most importantly, I do not know when to start CJ Spiller. When he plays well, he is on my bench. It’s so depressing. Anyway. I am doing well in all of my leagues and will be competing for a playoff spot in every league. BTW, winning Draftstreet with 4 players left and you  have 1.

If I wasn’t watching the Ravens go for two right now, I would be watching the Buccaneers-Seahawks game. Who would have thought that this game would have been tied up BY SEATTLE  with under 2 minutes late? Unbelievable game. Mike James has looked just as good as Doug Martin if not better. Buccaneers were so close to quitting on their coach. Now, they could be taking down one of the “best” teams in the NFC. I put quotations because I think the best teams in the NFC are now the 49ers, Saints, and Packers. The Seahawks’ offense is not good enough to win a championship, unless they pull a Ravens’ title run together and get hot at the right time. Who knows whats going to happen in the playoffs. It is all about who is hot. Final football note, its funny how no one is taking the 9-0 team seriously. Personally, I am with the majority. I don’t think they can do anything in the postseason this year, but we’ll see.

So the MLB season is over. Congrats to the Red Sox, and I hope you had fun at the parade. I am so shocked that they won the whole thing. They would not have sniffed the postseason if this site was up before the beginning of the 2013 MLB season. Unbelievable. Do you have any going away thoughts on the MLB?

Joe to Greg

All I have to say is, Andre. Johnson. Right around the time you sent this e-mail I was looking dead in the water. You still had four players going, three of which were playing in the Colts-Texans game. Until Johnson threw down 45 points. Who knows what’ll happen next with our matchup. Yahoo Fantasy is pretty much a lost cause for me but ESPN I love my team. I think I’m going to end up losing this week but I had Megatron, Frank Gore, and Hakeem Nicks on a bye so you can only do so much.

The parade was awesome. I was front row on one of the gates at the beginning of the parade so it was cool to see everyone go by. They led the parade off with the security officer from the ALCS game, which got the crowd even more pumped up. All in all, a great parade. Back in our Week 4 Spar we made our predictions for the MLB playoffs and my prediction payed off (humble brag). Sox in 6 over the Cards. I can’t say I’m surprised because I think the Sox just had more experience and they had those chemistry guys that every clubhouse needs to make runs in the playoffs. The biggest impact in the series was timely hitting in my opinion. They just seemed to find a way to get runs when they needed them. Congrats to the Sox. Anyways, good bye to the MLB season. Are there any moments during the season that stand out to you or any big plays you’ll always remember?

I agree with your Seattle comment, I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to hang with the Packers or the Saints. Their defense is their trademark but I lack confidence in the way their offense runs. It’s Week 9 and I still don’t know what to make of the Chiefs. Yes their 9-0, but I think I’m with the majority as well on this one. I don’t see a lot of postseason success in their future. Don’t want to get off on a tangent here but I loved how the Patriots played yesterday. Finally with a healthy Amendola and Gronk. Aaron Dobson is becoming more apart of the offense as well. How do you feel about the Ravens state? Any comments leading up the Packers-Bears game tonight (Monday)?

Greg to Joe

Andre Johnson just kept catching passes and it was so frustrating for me. I was so positive that I was going to win that DraftStreet contest and of course I lost. Also, another fun fact. My Yahoo team has scored the most points out of anyone in the league, but I haven’t won any weekly  ten dollars and I am not in first place. One reason why I am considering retiring from fantasy football next year. So much luck is involved that it is very frustrating to watch Tyler sit in first with a less superior team.

The biggest MLB moments for me are the Mariano Rivera All Star game. That was pretty awesome. It was definitely a good game to watch as well, surprisingly. I still can’t get over the slider/changeup Carlos Martinez threw to Shane Victorino in the World Series still puts me into a state of euphoria when I watch it. Oh my is it good. The only defensive plays I can think of are the Jose Iglesias plays he made with the Tigers. He may not be able to hit, but his glove will make him a major leaguer for a long time. You got any offseason predictions? I have a few, but I want to see your take first.

Dobson is finally showing why he was taken in the NFL Draft and Kenbrell Thompkins wasn’t. He is the better of the two receivers, but he is finally showing it. Also, Gronk is a game changer. I think the Patriots are back on track, but can easily be knocked off if Gronk or Amendola get hurt again. With the Ravens… I can see them win between 5-9 wins. 9 wins is possible if something happens in practice this week and they change the o-line blocking scheme. Kelechi Osemele was being talked about as a top 10 guard in the NFL, but his back has hampered him this year and has finally put him out for the season. If the Ravens can take down the Bengals this week, I will feel much better about the season, but I don’t know if that will happen. Also, I question Joe Flacco‘s health. I think he might be hurt because you can tell his arm strength has been zapped for some reason. We’ll see more in the following weeks.

Joe to Greg

As far as my offseason predictions go, I haven’t put much thought into them. I see Jacoby Ellsbury leaving Boston, as sad as it sounds. The Cardinals won the NL Central by 3 games this season (Pittsburgh in 2nd) and I think they’ll win again but by more than 5 games. They’re the reigning NL champs and I don’t see them dropping off, we’ve talked about them multiple times throughout our spars and reviews, but the strong homegrown base and the experience from playing in a World Series will do wonders for this team going forward. I’ll have to think of others for now. How about yourself?

Also, any first impressions on the start of the NBA season?

Greg to Joe

Yeah, I doubt that Ellsbury stays in Boston. I think he ends up in Seattle as they try to turn things around. The Cubs could also be in on him. I want to see the contract that the Yankees give Robinson Cano. It will probably be more than $200 million, but the question is by how much. I also think the Cardinals will finally fix their shortstop problem. I see them doing one of three things. One, they sign Johnny Peralta to shore that up. Two, they trade one of their young pitchers for a shortstop like Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus. The Rangers need pitching and they have two shortstops. I would love for a deal with the Orioles like… Lance Lynn for JJ Hardy and Jonathan Schoop/Adrian Marin. That will never happed especially after the Machado injury. The Orioles would have no shortstop for the beginning of the season. These two previous options involve getting ride of David Freese, moving Matt Carpenter back to third base and putting Kolten Wong at second base. The third option is keep Freese, keep Carpenter at second, and put Wong at shortstop. It’s not unreasonable, and the Cardinals’ shortstop situation will be a lot better than it was last year if they do any of these options. My final two big predictions are Shin-Sho Choo is a Met by January, and Masahiro Tanaka is an Angel. The Mets are the perfect fit for Choo. He becomes a veteran leader of a young team. It also puts the Mets in a good spot to contend in the next two years with their dominant young pitching and solid infield. Oh, I also forgot my last prediction. Carlos Beltran is either an Oriole next year, or he returns to his roots and resigns with the Kansas City Royals.

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James (Photo Cred: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James (Photo Cred: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA season has been interesting. Michael Carter-Williams is playing as good as anyone in the NBA right now and led the Sixers to 3 wins to start the season. That will in no way shape or form continue, but it was quite astonishing. I think the East is shaping up to be a three team race between the Heat, Pacers, and Nets. If the Nets are able to use Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett like the Spurs use Duncan, they will be dominant this year. I also love Enes Kanter. He is big man with a sweet jumper. If Utah wins the lottery next year, they’ll be a semi-contender in 2014-2015. Also, LeBron is still going back to Cleveland. The best situation for him. What do you think of the NBA season so far?

Joe to Greg

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

I like your predictions, especially the Rangers and Cardinals discussions. They really have the perfect holes to fill and it would be stupid not to explore those options. I think Cano gets south of $250 million, which is just out of this world to even think about. It makes me think of what Mike Trout might get offered, not saying it will be a huge number like that but who knows. The NBA has definitely been intriguing so far. Michael Carter-Williams is proving the doubters wrong and starting off a tremendous rookie campaign. The Celtics and Jazz seem to be the early favorites for the best lottery picks. Miami has struggles playing in the first quarters for some reason and the Indiana Pacers are 5-0? Who would’ve thought it. I love Enes Kanter and my equivalent is Jonas Valanciusnas from the Toronto Raptors. He’s been a beast who has averaged 15 points and 9.5 rebounds in his past two games. He’s been dominating down low, grabbing boards and posting a field goal % of 57.14. A great fantasy commodity in deep leagues. More on the NBA season to come. Any quick thoughts on the NFL this week? I’m a fan of the San Francisco-Carolina game and I think the Dallas-New Orleans game is going to be a shootout.

Greg’s Final thought

  1. If I am Mike Trout and the Angels approach me with an extension, I accept nothing less than $300 million over 10 years. I am serious. And quite frankly, it would be a discount for the Angels.
  2. Game of the Week for me is Panthers at the 49ers. I wanna see how Newton and Kaepernick perform against top defenses.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

A Day in the Life of the Dojo Master 11/5

A post about non-sports on a sports blog is not a common occurrence on my site. Actually, it has never happened, unless you consider fantasy basketball team names a non-sports topic.  However, today was so interesting that I just wanted to write about it.

In school, we are always learning about innovation and thinking outside the box. Obviously, it can be very repetitive to listen to this every day. Everyone wants to think of something new, make it big, and get paid a shit ton of money. I don’t need to be told that everyday, but we have to. And surprisingly, it makes you look for more opportunities to be creative.

A couple of classmates of mine got an email to go to a innovative dance class for engineering and science majors. I wasn’t on the email list. It’s for one of two reasons. One, Dr. C just assumed Heather would bring me as her +1 if we decided to go (if this was the case, he was right). Two, he doesn’t like me, and I wasn’t deemed worthy enough for the class. Either way, I made it to this dance class.

The ideas were pretty interesting. When we are born, we can make 3,000 general movements. By the end of pre-K, we can only make 300 of them and only 30 after high school. This is mostly a product of our sedentary lifestyle, but dancing is supposed to help us get active, move in different directions, and relieve stress.

The activities we did were even better. We started in a large circle and began throwing/kicking/rolling imaginary objects to each other with sound effects to go along with it. It started with someone making a object and passing it, then the next person caught the object, changed it and passed it along. Remember, there were sound effects to go with these things. It was hard at first, but once I got a hold of it, it was relaxing and fun. We were literally acting like 5 year olds playing pretend.

Then we partnered up and tried to alleviate the stress that our school work, life, etc. have been giving us. The first person, explorer, would think of a problem and turn it into an object. The next person, facilitator,  received the object changed it and passed it back. We did this in partners for two minutes. It got pretty crazy. I got bowled over by a bowling ball and broke my legs. It was a lot of fun but also an awesome way to turn a problem into something small and fun.

The next time we partnered up, I partnered with Heather. In this task, we spoke about everything that was bothering us or frustrating us. The explorer would start talking and just making normal hand gestures. The facilitator’s job was to change the hand movements so that the explorer had to focus on the hand movements and think about their problems in a different way. I realize in words it might not sound like this changed your views about your problems, but it really did. Heather made me do a really fast movement when I was complaining about something she knew really frustrated me and got me riled up, but she suddenly slowed it down in the middle of my rant. I stopped speaking. I couldn’t talk about anything. It relaxed me a lot more than I thought it would, and the activities showed me that body and mind really are connected.

Finally, we regrouped and did the first activity in half the size circle we did the first time. It was a lot better the second time because everyone was relaxed and used to the activities. It was awesome to hear the sounds and see the objects people created it. It was a lot of fun. As stupid as it might sound, it was an awesome experience and I am glad I went. The two odd things I learn are that being a bowling pin is fun and that I wish I had a personal bouncey ball that I could bounce around on.

After going through this innovative dance class, I watched this week’s HIMYM and went off to be a part of a focus group of an innovative product. Google and Apple, in my opinion, lead the world in innovative ideas for the technological world. I am sure many of you have seen one of these videos.


I was lucky enough to test them out today. They were really interesting. It was really comfortable to wear, but I knew that I was wearing some type of glasses. Some of the things that the glass allows you to do are really cool. It could give you directions, take videos, and take photos. It was also easy to search through Google. However, the web browser was hard to control once you got to certain websites. It also wasn’t very good at voice recognition. It consistently confused Bucknell with a certain word that shouldn’t be written in this post. And it would be impossible to pay attention to the real world and the Google Glass. It just needs your full attention to make it work. The other cool thing that I found out they were doing for the Google Glass is apps. The version of Google Glass I used was like using the first iPhone without any apps. It only had a few functions. While they were cool, there are a lot of apps that would help make these more useful in everyday life. Here was my favorite app that they showed me.

For a personal letter:

Dear Google,

I know you read my blog. You have crawlers on it everyday because I use Google AdSense and Analytics. I would like you to know that I was impressed by the Google Glass as I did not have high expectations. I thought that the first couple videos were too out of the box to have it actually happen. You have proven me wrong. I hope that you see these suggestions. I would also like to let you know that I would be very interested in becoming a Google Explorer and trying out the next version/prototype of the Google Glass, the version that allows me to download that baseball app. I would also like you to know that I love you for all you have brought to me in this world including, but not limited to, allowing me to search directly from the URL bar, sync my bookmarks across all of my devices, and writing school documents with multiple people on one document. I hope that you can bring me one more thing, and I can have the opportunity to be an Explorer. I have already submitted my name in the hopes of becoming one.

Love,

Greg Danchik

That was my day that kind of embodied innovation and everything that I am told to do at school and am told to design. It was an awesome day and got my real relaxed and wanting to innovate something to help the world.

Greg Danchik