Archive for May, 2011

MORTAL KOMBAT!!!!!….and some power rankings

First order of business, just want to thank everyone out there who has clicked a link to get to this blog via twitter 8 times by accident (you know who you are), or searched “grandview prostitution.” Because of you guys, we here have achieved our first big milestone of 1000 views. Clearly, this number is extremely misleading because of the very reasons stated above, but if it says 1000, damnit I’m saying 1000 too. So, thanks again to the aforementioned people, as well as the 6 of you who have been regular readers. Any traffic we get here is very exciting, and hopefully this continues to build into something that will legitimize the 17 dollars I spent to to get it started.

I really need to get in the habit of not waiting 3-4 weeks between posts. In my defense, I’ve been pretty low on ideas…baseball doesn’t ever give you all that much to talk about (or at least all that much that people want to hear from me) and I don’t care enough about the NBA to give the requisite thought it would take to put out a mediocre column. So that left me with pretty much an empty cupboard of ideas. But when I got home from watching the game with the guys the other night, flipped on the TV, and found Mortal Kombat the movie right in front of me, I figured it was time to get the creative juices flowing. First of all, I hadn’t seen this movie since I was probably 7 or 8 years old, but I think it was even cooler the second time around.

1. It has the iconic Veronica Vaughn from Billy Madison playing Sonya, and the granpda from Johnny Tsunami playing Shang Tsung. If this was all I had known going into it, I still would have watched without a doubt.

2. It features perhaps the greatest head of hair of all time. No typo there folks. This feathery mullet is that transcendantal. It is so incredible that it actually steals a few scenes from the actual guy who is sporting it. That, my friends, is a rarity. And when something like that occurs, notice needs to be taken. If you don’t believe me?

Liu Kang says, “Think again buster, or I will lotus kick your ass back to the Ming Dynasty.”

And 3. This movie would have to rank near the top of any unintentional comedy/awesomeness movie power rankings list. And for me, those 3 reasons are 3 unnecessary ones. I need zero motivation to drop everything I am doing to watch this cinematic masterpiece.

But, on the subject of power rankings, I got to thinking. Some of my favorite writers out there, chiefly Bill Simmons, do a fantastic job of ranking powerfully the NBA and NFL. It makes for great reading sure, but poor baseball is left in the dust, all alone. And as a fantasy baseball junkie (at the Royals game yesterday, a fellow league member told me to my face that my lineup was horrible, I proceeded to cry on the inside…I have a serious problem) thats tough to watch. So its me to the rescue, ranking all of the MLB teams from worst to first (yes, even the Cardinals), separating them by groups into divisions named for the first words that jump to mind when I think of those particular teams (borrowing an idea from Simmons himself). Again, apologies on the long wait, and more apologies for making you wait for so long for a brief treatise on Mortal Kombat and some MLB Power Rankings. Without further ado, I give you:

THE POOP SANDWICH DIVISION

30. Houston Astros (17-30).  In this edition of “Who made the better buy?!” you will get to choose between the ring-pop (whatever happened to those) I bought in the 2nd grade, the recently completed $680 million purchase of the Astros by Jim Crane, and the $1000 I once donated online to help a certain Nigerian prince. Ugh.

29. Minnesota Twins (15-30). If the Yankees are the Evil Empire, then you would have to at least throw the Twins’ name in the running to be the Rebel Alliance (and yes, not only do I love Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but you can also add Star Wars to that list…ouch), which makes this slide into the league cellar particularly tough to watch. Im hoping that Joe Mauer comes back at full strength out of nowhere and the Twins catch fire, making a run at the wild card. Don’t hold your breath though.

28. San Diego Fathers (19-28). Not much to say here. Hopefully the Adrian Gonzalez trade replenishes the farm system enough to begin a feasable rebuilding project. Also, get a new ball park. Im all game for ballparks that give pitchers a slight advantage, but Petco (where they play) is just a black hole for offense. I feel bad for any position players who have ever had to play baseball in San Diego.

27. Seattle Mariners (22-24). They have played above their talent level thus far, but I don’t really see it lasting. Would love to see Ichiro get some time in the playoffs before his incredible career comes to an end though. At least they get to see Kevin Durant in person 41 nights a year. Wait…nevermind…

ITS NOT POOP BUT JUST ROTTEN MEAT IN MY SANDWICH DIVISION

26. Arizona Diamondbacks (23-23). Like Seattle, a team that has played above their talent level and it likely won’t last. It gives me no pleausre to throw this out there, but is it possible that Justin Upton (like his older brother BJ) is a player that never fully realizes his incredibly high ceiling? Personally, I hope both guys prove me totally wrong. But Upton (he is still very young) has been in the league for awhile, and with most players that are truly special, don’t we normally see at least some indicators of it pretty early on? Maybe our expectations for Upton were too high? I dont know.

25. Chicago Cubs (20-25). Frankly I’d rather eat a handful of sand than watch some of the teams in the league right now, and Chicago certainly qualifies. They just aren’t very exciting right now. At least they have Alfonso Soriano? If you are a Cubs fan, you are now excused to gauge your eyes out.

24. Pittsburgh Pirates (22-24). Astounded that they have straddled .500 so far into the season 1. Because Andrew Mccutchen has been a resident occupant of struggletown all year (although he has started to pick things up a bit) and 2. Its the Pirates. If Pedro Alvarez can come back and get things going at the plate, it looks as if Pittsburgh, just may, have a solid nucleus in place for the future. But for now, they still suck.

23. Washington Nationals (21-25). Speaking of nuclei (I need to get out more), there’s no need to mention the guys Washington plans to build around for the next 10-15 years. One of those guys is not Jayson Werth. His contract may be worse than Soriano’s, and thats really saying something. Better days are ahead Nationals fans.

22. New York Mets (22-24). There are just a lot of crappy teams trying to stay afloat out there right now. I know this team is all over the news, but like so many other teams, I just do not care. I think all of this negative PR will get back to the locker room if it hasn’t already. This team is in serious trouble.

THE MEDIOCRE SANDWICH DIVISION (editors note: I’ll quit with the sandwich names, I think about food too much)

21. Los Angeles Dodgers (21-27). Like the Mets, a lot of negative press has taken its toll on the team. Unlike the Mets, I think this squad still has the guys (or at least some semblence of a foundation) to turn things around and make a run at a spot in the playoffs. Can it be done? Does anyone care?

20. Baltimore Orioles (21-24). This team is a .500 one at best. General management got too trigger happy in the offseason and signed a bunch of past their prime/takes more off the table than he contributes guys (Derek Lee, Mark Reynolds (why would anyone make these kinds of moves?!)), because they thought this team was ready to contend. And they were the only ones who thought this. Never get fooled by a new manager injecting life into a team post-AllStar break. In baseball, things tend to flatten out (i.e. return to the status quo) over time. And for a team of this talent level, their record is just about right. Even Buck Showalter couldn’t stop that from happening.

19. Kansas City Royals (22-24). Falling back to the status quo and trigger happy general management is a perfect segue to this team as a matter of fact. The Royals, simply put, just aren’t very good. They won games early on because their offense was better than most. Thats fine. The offense was powered by Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, Mike Aviles, and Jeff Francoeur. Thats not fine (although I do think Francoeur has a chance to sustain what hes been doing, and I have full faith in Butler). Again, another case of a team returning to the status quo, something not even Eric Hosmer can stop. The Hosmer call up appears to have been a success, but Danny Duffy and Everett Teaford? Im not too sure. With these types of moves, I feel like Dayton Moore is starting to get into a “make the team as good as it can be THIS YEAR” type of mindset, when it could come at the price of the future, which doesn’t seem like the type of plan he’d been preaching throughout the entire offseason. There’s absolutely no way he can screw this farm system up, right? Gonna puke.

18. Chicago White Sox (22-26). Clearly, they have been underwhelming this season, especially big, bad Adam Dunn. But something tells me they will find a way to play up to their talent level and make some sort of run at a playoff spot. And that is the kiss of death for their season. Chicago baseball everyone!

17. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the United States of America (24-24). Thats a mouthful. This appears to be a squad that is on the tail end of a reasonably dominant decade of baseball. They were good for awhile, but players grow old, every team gets crappy at some point. The Angels are certainly trending in that direction. But Mike Scoscia is one of THE BEST managers in the entire game, and I think he can squeeze one more competitive season out of this team.

THE MILDLY INTERESTING DIVISION

16. Oakland Athletics (22-25). The preseason comparisons to last years world champs may have been unfair, but up to now, this could still be that type of team (although they are more likely than not 1-2 years away from being serious contenders). If they can lock up their young pitching (which is right up there with the top staffs in the game), they will be contending for a long time. But that offense on the other hand…

15. Toronto Blue Jays (23-23). Jose Bautista is mashing the ball like he would be if he were on steroids. Whoops, did I just say that? Im not going to flat out say he’s found some loophole with the drug testing system. But he’s probably found some loophole in the drug testing system.

14. Detroit Tigers (23-23). This group holds the current honor of being the highest ranked team on this list to be a part of the prestigious group of teams I care extremely little about. V-Mart and Max Scherzer have been outstanding this year. And if your core is Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander (Detroit happens to have these very two players), you’ll probably be contending for a playoff spot deep into the season no matter what. Apart from that, their record reflects their type of play this year, imagine that.

13. Colorado Rockies (23-22). Seeing Troy Tulowitzki struggle with his bat hasn’t been easy to watch. I have a huge man crush on him, and hes been on my fantasy team 4 of the last 5 years. Knowing him as well as I do though, he will continue to pull Ubaldo Jiminez and Carlos Gonzalez out of their funks, getting this team where it belongs: on top of the division and in the discussion for world series darkhorse.

THE THESE TEAMS HAVE TALENT BUT COULD JUST AS EASILY IMPLODE DIVISION

12. Texas Rangers (24-23). Getting Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz back bumps these guys up a few spots. Alexi Ogando has been a revelation, and the Rangers are better than their record lets on. If they can stay healthy, they are one of the top teams in the game.

11. Milwaukee Brewers (24-23). It seems like almost every year, the Brewers have the guys to be able to compete, but can never quite get things done. This year, with a legitimate ace starting to get healthy, things may be different. But he will have to pitch better than he has in his last few starts if the BrewCrew wants to make a run at a division and league championship.

10. Cincinnati Reds (25-22). Like the Rangers, I think the Reds are a little better than how they’ve opened the first 25% or so of the season. Jay Bruce looks like he is taking baby steps towards stardom. Going into the season, their starting pitching looked like it could be a real asset. Now? Bronson Arroyo has an ERA of 4.11 and is the team leader in that category. ‘Nuff said. Something will have to change with that rotation (personnel or production wise) if they want to get back to the playoffs.

9. Florida Marlins (26-19). Unlike the three teams mentioned above, this team is not as good as their record would seem to indicate. And things just got rockier with Josh Johnson (who has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the league the last 2.5 years) hitting the disabled list. You have to hope they can tread water until he makes a, hopefully, early return, but things could turn south very quickly if they aren’t careful.

8. Satan (25-20). 8 years ago, I was tired of hearing about this team every day. Today? I am tired of hearing about this team every day. And it definitely won’t stop. Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada’s respective careers coming to a tense end will not do the team any justice in the next few years. And I don’t think they have any way of getting out of A-Rods HUMONGOUSLY bad contract and CC Sabathia’s potentially horrible looking contract either. I wonder what this team will look like in 2015. In all likelihood, they will be there right til the end of the season, but I sure hope not.  

THE UPSTARTS

7. San Francisco Giants (27-19). Love their pitching, hate their offense, its that simple. They will continue to stay 5-10 games above .500 until something changes, for better or for worse.

6. Atlanta Braves (26-23). This is another case of a team that should be better than where they are right now. The pitching continues to be exceptional, but the offense is sputtering. Jason Heyward has been a puzzle (was placed on the disabled list a few hours after writing this), and this could go 1 of 2 ways. Heyward could finally start to produce like his talent would suggest he is capable of doing, and he would elevate this team to serious contending level. Or Heyward continues to fizzle, and then the delicate balance of this middling team begins to unravel, and other things begin to go wrong, and then I start to look too deeply into certain situations, until finally, I exaggerate enough that I have something to write about.

5. Tampa Bay Rays (26-21). Every time I think Tampa Bay, I think “model way to run a small market team in today’s game.” I can’t say that enough. It blows my mind how some teams simply refuse to build through the draft. You sign those core guys to long term deals, suck it up when good, non-core players leave, tread water, and then reload with younger talent (that came through the drafting) in 1-2 years. Thats it! Thats all you have to do. Unfortunately for Tampa, this is one of those treading water seasons. This type of record is their ceiling for the year, speaking to just how little good teams there are in baseball right now.

4. St. Lou Cardinals (28-20). One of the top stories of the year is how this team has been able to put up such a solid record with Albert Pujols hitting .260, Adam Wainright not pitching, and Chris Carpenter pitching badly. I feel like this team, like basically any other on this list, could have things go sour in 2 weeks. But if Lance Berkman can continue to produce, and Matt Holliday can stay healthy, they should be right there at the end, and there’s no way Albert continues this powerless streak for much longer. He is the greatest hitter of our generation, he’ll get things turned around very soon. That would be classic if he left after the season though.

 3. Cleveland Indians (29-15). I don’t really get this team, because I’m just not sure how good they really are, which is why they do not hold the top spot. The AL Central is WIDE open, and they are in complete control right now. But if/when they make the playoffs, how will they fair against some of the more talented teams? Luckily for them there aren’t too many that are as talented as they are. Unfortunately for them, this is a product of there being very few teams that have revealed themselves as actually good, rather than the Indians being legitimately more talented than many other squads.

THE CONTENDERS

2. Philadelphia Phillies (28-18). There really isn’t much to say about the pitching. It was the best on paper before the season began, and there isn’t much of a reason to refute that claim at this stage in the season. But think where they would be right now if the offense was producing at the levels it has for the past 4 years. Many in Philadelphia are hoping that the return of Chase Utley will restore the bats to just that level. And it better, because this team won’t have too many shots at a world series after this year.

1. Boston Red Sox (25-21). Maybe not the best record on the whole this year, but since they started 2-10, this squad has been playing like the favorites we all expected them to be. And that is with Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia all still struggling, Marco Scutaro on the DL, and John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka being the most worthless $150 million+ in the league today. Adrian Gonzalez has emerged as a true superstar (which I, personally, have been waiting for for about 4 years). Look for them to continue to keep this hot streak going for the rest of the season. The Giants may be the defending champs, but in my book, the World Series goes through beantown for the time being.

And that will do it. I have just completely given up on trying to write something under a reasonable word count. There is no hope. But hopefully my lack of posting the last few weeks hasn’t turned you off just yet. I’ve already been busy trying to come up with new ideas, and am looking to put out some new material late this week/early next week, for absolute sure. Until then, thanks again for stopping by. Go Chiefs.