Saturday, May 25, 2013

Looking for a Fight @ UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2

UFC fans are hoping this sequel is better than the original.

The Hangover Part III was released on Thursday to begrudging enthusiasm. The tepid response and worse reviews are probably no surprise to anyone that witnessed the glee in which people were ready to jump all over The Hangover Part II when it was released in 2011. As the sequel to the 2009 breakout hit The Hangover, Part II was a giant prosthetic dick slap to the face. Watching it in the theater was a completely jarring experience, as Part II is exactly the same move as the original, only set in Thailand. If you haven't seen it for yourself, I cannot express how outwardly lazy and stupid this movie is. Aside from a couple of minor changes you could probably watch these movies side by side and hit the same notes as the movie progresses.

So appalled was I, that the only thing I can think of is that the writers basically said, "Well, we can put out anything with these guys (Bradley Cooper, Zack Galifanakis, and Ed Helms) in it, and it'll make bank, so instead of trying and making a sequel people hate, let's give them a carbon copy of the first movie, then make money on the second, and then we'll see what we can do on the third." I can accept that in the same way that if you teleported me into the life of Nickelback's bassist, I'd live making the worst music ever created if it meant making tens of millions of dollars. Yes, artistic integrity means little to me. Man has got to eat!

Anyway, sequels are a tough thing to pull off. Usually they are just tired remakes that reuse the same jokes (take note Anchorman2!), stories, or beefing up the characters/number of characters from the original. Making multiple sequels for The Hangover, which cost $35 million and made $467 million makes sense. Making a sequel of Velasquez vs. Bigfoot I is a much more difficult situation. That would be like making a sequel to John Carter from Mars. It doesn't make sense.

The first match took place as the co-main event at UFC 146: Dos Santos Vs. Mir. Velasquez was coming off his loss to JDS, where it was revealed Cain was nursing an injury that caused him to weigh in above his normal fight weight of around 240 lbs. (oh yeah, well when JDS lost to Cain, he had muscle fiber breaking down into his blood stream! You've been one-upped.) JDS had an undisclosed knee injury as well, so chalk that up for what it's worth. So Cain was looking to prove some of the doubters that he was the best heavyweight (ever?) on the planet and switched his cyborg mainframe to kill and obliterated Bigfoot Silva.

People weren't exactly banking on a rematch a year later. But Silva made that happen for himself. After enough blood donations, the Brazilian got back into the ring and knocked out Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem. The Overeem KO was a massive upset considering everyone was already pondering an Overeem fight against Cain. Again, how can you not love a sport where a guy like Bigfoot is taken lightly? The guy is 6'4 over 265 lbs. with hands that would put man-hands to shame, and a head that served as the inspiration for Easter Island. He looks like a children's nightmare. Then again, if you look like an in shape Overeem, you're probably used to thinking you can deal with pretty much anyone.

Well, as history tells us, The Reem carried his hands a bit too low, and Bigfoot's big hands tattooed loser across The Reem's face. So, here we are. The sequel to the movie no one wanted to see.

Thankfully, nothing lends itself to rematches like sports, more specifically combat sports.

Although there isn't much doubt as the outcome of the main event on Saturday, there is always a curiosity to see what will go down. If that's not enough to spark your interest, then the UFC did what the UFC does. Put together fights that are sure to be crowd pleasers.

However, in adding the likes of Donald Cerrone, Junior Dos Santos, and crew they put together a lot of potentially explosive fights, but fights that are fairly one-sided. What that means to me is that we should all be expecting an upset or two.

If the UFC can recreate the excitement that was the 146 card, then they'd be in good shape. That card too was headlined by a perceived easy match as JDS fought Mir, and while it was, in total there were 9 finishes including every main event fight. That's some damn exciting stuff.

So with the upset patrol out in full force, I'm going with James Te Hua over Glover Teixiera as my upset pick. But I am looking forward to the whole card, as it should be a pulse pounding one.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fantasy Funkhouser: Yeah, About That ...2013 Q1 Edition

Don't hate me, Manny. (USAT)
Fantasy Funkhouser will review all things Fantasy Baseball. After all, life is a small sample size.

The quarter point of the baseball season is here, and that gives us enough time to reflect back and see what's really going on in the world of Major League Baseball. Sure, the injury bug seems to be running rampant over the first quarter and there does seem to be a large percentage of players playing way above their pay grade (eh, Jean Segura?). But a quarter of a season does not a baseball season make. Some players will slump and others will rise, but there are some players that have jumped out at me that I didn't expect to at all.

I'm going to list some players that are exceeding my expectations, and I expect them to keep going. I did throw together some fantasy crush picks back in March, and some are looking pretty, preeetty, preeeeettttay good so far. But I'm not just going to rehash the players I missed (although looking back, I do regret not expanding it to all players so I could present my love for some higher ranked players I had tagged early on, like Paul Goldschmidt). Onward!

Manny Machado, 3B - Orioles

Not that anyone didn't expect Machado to be good. He's bred to be a superstar. But that he's this good already is shocking. The Macho Man has 23 XBH, .920 OPS, and plays gold glove defense just for fun. I had him moving along at this pace early in 2014, not right now. His 2012 was solid, but there have been no signs of a slump for Manny. He's a star for years to come.

Carlos Gomez, OF - Brewers

Carlos won't be keeping up his .365 AVG, but everything else is for real. The power, the speed, the increased walk rate. Everything is in line for Gomez to build off his post-sleeper break out last year. Yes, I was a member of the Carlos Gomez fan club last year, but my faith waivered heading into 2013. With his deserved ranking, I was just too nervous to invest in Gomez. I hit pay dirt last year, why not get up from the blackjack table, cash out, smoke a cigar, and let the wonderful memory that was the 2nd half of 2012 remain? Well, this is why.

Justin Morneau, 1B - Twins

The one-time MVP of the AL, Morneau has battled a lot of injuries over the past couple of years. I was happy to drive his fantasy self to the local dump and dispose of the body. Thus far in 2013 though, he's been showing flashes of the old Morneau. Healthy and confident, Morneau leads the team in RBIs and is batting over .300. While his slash line matches up with what he did in 2012 (134 games, 19 HR, 77 RBI) - if he can stay health he can get to 100 RBI. The power is just something that will never be back, but in the wasteland that is 1B, Morneau is looking ready for a bounce back.

Ike Davis, 1B - Mets

Speaking of horrible 1B - it's not all roses for predicting fantasy baseball. I listened to what the other experts said about Ike coming into the year. His strong finish to 2012, the quietest 30 HR you'll ever find, his health coming into the season that will lead to great things. Well, he's as horrible as ever. Delivering a line that if he keeps up for 3 more weeks, will likely see him in the minors. Last year Davis put up similarly horrid numbers, then turned it around on Memorial Day. He's worth keeping an eye on to see if history repeats, but Davis is looking like a complete wash out.

Carl Crawford, OF - Dodgers

Kudos for Crawford for finding health and peace of mind in LA. Few others have. Early favorite along with Justin Upton for the Change of Scenery Award, Crawford has rediscovered himself after a miserable stretch in Boston where health and happiness were not easily found. He's off to a great start, and while he will need to be rested every now and again, he's running and being productive atop a weak Dodgers line-up.

Pitching, by and large, has been a disaster. I'm not sure if I dodged a bullet with my picks or what, but there's very little to report from a disappointment standpoint. I still thought Stephen Strasburg was overrated for this season, I loved Yu Darvish, and who could have guessed that proven stars like David Price, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, and Yovani Gallardo would go in the tank. If I had to pick one major disappointment, it'd be Roy Halladay. Beating yourself up over injuries is never a good way to go through life, but with Halladay, I wanted to believe he'd be fine just because he's Doc. After admiring him north of the border in Canada and when my Phillies acquired him, I couldn't have asked for a better baseball experience. He's the best pitcher of a generation, and I'd hate to see his career come to a close like this. But history says it will. Sure, he might come back, pitch for some completely weird team like the San Diego Padres, but it won't be the same.


Willin Rosario - C, Rockies

With Rosario, I was nervous about his propensity to strike out often, and along with his below average defense, a road to the bench or even AAA crossed my mind. Well, the defense might not have gotten any better, but his 8 HR and 3 SB are music to an owner's ears. Sure he's come down off his astronomical start, but that'll happen with a streak-ish player like the Baby Bull. Coors helps anyone, but it's not as apparent for Rosario who is actually only carrying a .664 OPS at Coors compared to mashing at a .960 clip on the road. Both will even out to a certain extent, but the moral of this tale is that the end product is a great offensive catcher.

Anibal Sanchez, SP - Tigers

Sanchez always had the potential to be special. He appears to have gotten past the injuries that slowed him early in his career, but I always thought he was just one of those guys that had the stuff, but would never figure things out. A thrower, not a pitcher - as the derisive crowd would say. After a strong playoffs, Sanchez has apparently figured things out. His K% and velocity is up, and with a porous defense behind him, he is still operating with a fantastic 1.45 FIP, which is tops in baseball.

The Funkman says: "Look at this guy! He drafted Ike Davis in the 10th round!"

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fantasy Funkhouser: Platooning Isn't Just for the Super Rich Anymore, You Can Do it Too!

Have a day, Brandon Moss! (
Fantasy Funkhouser will review all things Fantasy Baseball. After all, life is a small sample size.

May is over, and while you shouldn't be panicking about your fantasy team, it's inevitable that on one squad or another, there's cause for concern. While there are a plethora of things that might be ailing your team, let's say you find yourself struggling at first base. The talent at 1B is soooo deep this year ... you heard. If you can't get Prince Fielder or Joey Votto feel free to wait and wait some more. Sure you could have nabbed Allen Craig later than those guys ... the same Craig who hasn't hit a home run yet (and yes I linked to that to show you I picked Chris Davis as a sleepy pick at 1B). Yeesh. 

Needless to say that depth at 1B so far hasn't materialized. A couple of the top guys are right where they belong, but those middle tier/proven veteran guys that are supposed to take a leap/remain consistent have stalled at the gate.

Had your fill of Ike Davis, wondering if Paul Konerko's battle with father time is up, or if you realize that Freddie Freeman can be just as brilliant as he is frustrating, there's answer to your problems. It's platooning. 

Yes, platooning has carried a negative stigma around for quite some time. When a baseball team platoons a position, it's like having two goalies in net ... it basically means you have no one. In this new baseball day and age though, platooning has been used by ball clubs on the cheap to essentially create a well above average player by exploiting match-ups. With the increased dominance of pitching these days, those middle to bottom rung guys might have been able to get by, but if you're Ike Davis and can't hit a lefty (or at this point anyone) then as the game moved into the later innings, there's a lefty coming out of the pen that throws 95 mph and the rest of Davis' night is basically toast - let alone when he's matched up against a Cliff Lee type. You might as well kneel at the alter and pray for at least one base hit.

Now, teams like the A's, Pirates, Yankees, and Red Sox have used platooning to cover up some nasty holes in their line-up. It's added real life value to the Daniel Navas and Travis Hafners of the world. Well, in fantasy players like this are readily available for mass consumption. 

Let's take a look at two failing 3'ers this year. Allen Craig and Paul Konerko. Both were ranked in the top 100 in Yahoo! standard leagues, so if you did draft both of these guys, you were pretty aggressive diving into the first base pool.

As of today's date, their lines are: 

Allen Craig 103 0.262 11 0 20 0
Paul Konerko 97 0.227 10 4 15 0
Average 100 0.245 10.5 2 17.5 0
Per AB Average 1 N/A 0.105 0.02 0.175 0

Not great. Now maybe you're playing just one of these guys, but odds are you've been hoping for both of them to turn it around in your 1B and CI or UTIL spot. While I certainly wouldn't cut bait on Craig, let's say Paulie just isn't doing it for you anymore. Dump him if you like, as I have no idea what his trade value is unless there's another 1B depressed owner in your league.

It'll take up another roster spot, but if you added two much more available guys like Brandon Moss (57% owned) and Kendrys Morales (48% owned) and played them only when the match-ups favored them (Moss v. RHP; Morales v. LHP) what kind of production would you get?

Brandon Moss (v. RHP) 66 0.303 N/A 4 14 1
Kendrys Morales (v. LHP) 40 0.275 N/A 2 5 0
Total 106 0.289 N/A 6 19 1
Per AB Average 1 N/A N/A 0.057 0.179 0.009

On a per at bat average, these two players, when platooned, provide better production out at 1B than Craig and Konerko. The output on Moss' end vastly surpasses Morales', however, there's a decent likelihood there's already someone on your roster that can bash against southpaws better than Morales anyway. Of course, this is a SSS and Moss is coming off of a nice run, but this is something that Moss did last year as well on his way to 21 homers. His slash line last year against northpaws was .290/.363/.643 - that's a 1.000+ OPS.

Certainly, this strategy is more geared towards daily leagues, but it is a viable option to find a cheap way to kick start certain positions. By certain positions, I mean largely 1B and OF as they have the more flexible player options, and power at those positions are more easily projected than say average or speed categories.

Do what you will, but this is a simple option that could lead to some significantly sneaky production.

The Funkman says: Kendrys Morales? You can't be serious.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Slobblog: The Farmers' Cabinet - The Slob Identity

What is the Slob Identity?
While what Slobfest is can be found here, an interesting question that many may be asking is what makes us Slobs slobs? Well, we all have our own distinct personalties that overlaps with common interests. Some of the more obvious similarities are slobbing out by eating a lot of food, being an asshole, and not going out of our way to humiliate each other in public places. We also identify ourselves as fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, sports fans, gamers, know-it-alls, and sarcastic SOB's. A lot of different things make up a Slob, but in reality that's what makes us all enjoy each other's company.

If a restaurant could in and of itself be complex and diverse and ... interesting; would it work? Well, The Farmers' Cabinet attempts to answer that question.

From the time you walk through the small entrance or wide open floor to ceiling doors (if the weather is warm) you're not quite sure what you're getting yourself into. The spacious eatery is adorned with the drink menu on wooden panels, moose heads, and barrels of liquor (for show only, I believe). It's a lot of things all at once.

We met at the bar before heading to our table. The cocktail list is no joke in drinks or in price. Quality wise they're worth a sip or two. The Scotchman, Cortez the Killer, and The Scofflaw all greased the wheels properly for the evening. After we were hurried from our drinks by one Slob, we were seated in the main dining area.

Lots of options to choose from.
In tying with the farmers theme the tables are of the picnic variety. The tables are joined with neighboring parties and there are no back rests unless you are on the side next to the wall. The lighting is comfortably dim so even if someone is seated next to you, it doesn't feel like you're actually sitting next to them. The waitress came around and took our drink orders. At this point the Slobs switched to the beer and cider menu.

The options were a plenty, but choosing between so many was easier than it seemed. Throughout the rest of the night we dabbled all around the largely European inspired ale selection. It was much easier than say, picking the hotter version of Keri Russell: Felicity Keri or Americans Keri?

Felicity Porter
Elizabeth Jennings

As we started looking through the menu there weren't many options, but the selections under those options were copious. I mean, two separate cheese selections? Meat and sausage? It was a lot for us Slobs to take in.

Ultimately we went whole hog and did a cheese sample, meat/sausage tray, deviled eggs (2x) an Bavarian pretzels (2x).

Half of the pretzel/deviled eggs order.
The apps were good, but the food above didn't quite live up to its billing; as it was a good thing we ordered two of each.

At this point it's worth to go back and see what kind of identity the Farmers' Cabinet has. We've had Prohibition-era drinks, Belgium beer, Bavarian pretzels, and deviled eggs while seated at picnic tables. The lack of identity made for some strong hits (the drinks) and some misses (the apps). The reason restaurants are categorized by cuisine is that focusing on a certain type of food creates a better environment for the diner as well as a more clear focus on what the kitchen is looking to accomplish. The cultural melting pot that is The Farmers' Cabinet has thus far left the Slobs enjoying themselves, but not necessarily getting a fulfilling experience.

When it came to get our entrees on, the Slobs were all-in on virtually everything the menu had to offer. Smoked lamb leg, quail stuffed with duck sausage, beer braised short rib, and venison shank? I mean it's hard to go wrong with those offerings. Clearly the pea ravioli and boat scallops were put on the menu to make us Slobs chuckle or anyone that ordered those would be escorted off the premise. There's not much you could stuff in a ravioli to make in unappetizing to me, but spring peas?

Awesome cornbread entree.
We were all looking forward to our meals, but when they came out - it was something I'd never seen before anywhere. There was a component of the meal that was as large if not larger than the entree. Look at the meal above. It looks like the cornbread is the star of the show. The braised short ribs are merely a side dish along with the purple cabbage (they had a lot of purple cabbage). It was so bizarre, and despite the food being tasty really set an odd precedent for the meals.

Hope you like sweet potato mash. 
The thing was, this wasn't a one time thing. To the left is the quail stuffed with duck sausage. I mean even at Boston Market they don't portion the food this way. It left us Slobs rather baffled. Keep in mind we're a hearty eating bunch. When we order a quail stuffed with duck sausage, we basically picture a Thanksgiving turkey in our minds.

To me it spoke to the inability of Farmers' Cabinet to just pick a side and go with it. If you want to be a rustic type farmers' market set up, then give me a big plate of hearty food. If you want to be a speakeasy, then focus on the drinks and have some bar food/snacks as the theme of your menu. If you want to be a European beer hall, then set up your restaurant to have that kind of feel. Give me St. Paulie girls and big steins of beer. All in all, it turns out in this instance that a restaurants identity is better when it's basic and straightforward. Did the chef think, hey maybe he diners will be filled up on deviled eggs and an assortment of pickled products we offer. Maybe if they stuck to a game plan, they'd be able to better execute across the board. Farmers' Cabinet has numerous highlights but it mostly gets lost in the murky gray area they try to live in.

Then to further confuse everyone, an old-timey piano player started playing in the main dining area. He was fully dressed to the period, pounding on those keys, and singing in his old-timey way. Of course, we had no choice but to deconstruct his life and wonder how miserable he must be. What must drive a man to play for tips at Farmers' Cabinet in full regalia? What a dark, sad life he must lead.

We did make it to dessert with some room left in our stomachs. We all agreed that while the proportions were off, we were all pretty satisfied. Sadly, the dessert menu only consisted of a few items prompting all of us to order the chocolate bread pudding. Shockingly, there wasn't any strudel or whatever the hell people eat in New Zealand for dessert.

Overall, it was a fine, but less fulfilling experience. Everything was just the same mix of tasty, good, but odd and questionable. Enough to make you want to come back for drinks and maybe some charcuterie, but not for piano playing and a half pound piece of cornbread.

-Slobs out.

Farmers' Cabinet
1113 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107