Saturday, August 30, 2008

2008 Fantasy Football Preview Extravaganza

The NFL season is less than a week away and of course with that comes fantasy football, one of my favorite past times. I have participated in fantasy football leagues in some form or fashion going way back before the internet days with some of my buddies from high school (over ten years). With the advent and growth of the internet, the popularity and participation of not only myself but many others has skyrocketed it to what it is today.

Last year, I started the tradition on my Xanga blog of Fantasy Football Tuesday which was a recap and preview of my fantasy football teams in the leagues I was in. This year the tradition has moved to this blog and to kick it off, here's a draft recap of the three fantasy football leagues that I'm in that are must watch/keep up with.

*To start off, the first league is Speed Kills, this league is one that I've been participating in since 2001 (eight years counting this season). I have finished in the top 3 four times and have won the championship twice including last season. It is made up of some friends from college and some friends of friends.

The team name this year is the K.C. Masterpieces. In this year's draft, the Masterpieces had the 7th overall pick and with it selected Tom Brady (a hold over from last year's championship team). The rest of the starting lineup is as follows:

QB - Tom Brady (1st round-7th pick)
RBs - Ronnie Brown (3nd round-31th pick), LenDale White (5th round-55th pick
WRs - Reggie Wayne (2nd round-18th pick), Wes Welker (4th round-42nd pick), Nate Burleson (8th round-90th pick)
TE - Chris Cooley (6th round-66th pick)
K - Rob Bironas (9th round-103rd pick)
DEF - New England (7th round-79th pick)

Key backups drafted: QB Jay Cutler (10th round-114th pick), WR Patrick Crayton (11th round-127th pick), RB Justin Fargas (12th round-138th pick), TE Marcedes Lewis (13th round-151st pick)

Season Prediction: While there are fewer teams this year (12 as opposed to 16) and there are several top teams not returning in this league (including those run by my friends Jon and Stephen), it will be a tough year. I have never repeated as a champ in this league. There are several question marks with this team (can Brady provide a top performance again this year, will the starting running backs be enough to win on a consistent basis, the question of a depleted team on one bye week), however this team does have the potential to compete deep into the playoffs. I do think they will finish in the top 3.

*The second league is one that I'm very excited about. It's called the League of Fantasy Footballers. This is the first year of the league and features several friends from college (Jon, Stephen, Adam, Joseph) and several of their friends.

The team name in this league is the Kansas City Chefs (play on the Snickers commercial back in the day). In this year's draft, the Chefs had the 2nd overall pick and with it selected Adrian Peterson. The rest of the starting lineup is as follows:

QB - Matt Hasselbeck (6th round-59th pick)
RBs - Adrian Peterson (1st round-2nd pick), Maurice Jones-Drew (2nd round-19th pick)
WRs - Andre Johnson (3rd round-22nd pick), Anquan Boldin (5th round-42nd pick), Hines Ward (9th round-82nd pick)
TE - Antonio Gates (4th round-39th pick)
K - Adam Vinatieri (8th round-79th pick)
DEF - New England (7th round-62nd pick)

Key backups drafted: QB Philip Rivers (11th round-102nd pick), RB Julius Jones (10th round-99th pick), WR Reggie Williams (12th round-119th pick), TE Donald Lee (14th round-139th pick)

Season Prediction: This team, the first of the three for me to live draft, is probably the best on paper. The 1-2 punch of Peterson and Jones-Drew is the best RB combination in the league. Health will be the concern for this team along with the talent at the WR position. This will also be a very competitive league. It will be hard to win the championship in this 10 team league but I think this team out of the three has the talent to win the championship.

*The third league I'm in will be a very interesting one as it is in uncharted territory. It is called the Young Guns league and it is made up of college/young adult leaders across the country and run by a guy who is at Lifeway and is a part of a department called Threads which is geared towards college/young adult ministry. I don't know anyone personally in this league so it'll be interesting to get to know them through this. Also this is the first league that I'm doing that's with ESPN. The other leagues I've been in have been through Yahoo so that'll also be an interesting change as well.

The team name in this league is the Kansas City Perkalators (throwback to one of the team names used by me last year). In this year's draft, the Perks had the 1st overall pick (second year in a row I've had a team with the first overall pick) and with it selected LaDanian Tomlinson. The rest of the starting lineup is as follows:

QB - Matt Hasselbeck (5th round-41st pick)
RBs - LaDanian Tomlinson (1st round-1st pick), Jamal Lewis (3rd round-21st pick)
WRs - Braylon Edwards (2nd round-20th pick), Greg Jennings (6th round-60th pick)
RB/WR - Hines Ward (7th round-61st pick)
TE - Antonio Gates (4th round-40th pick)
K- Rob Bironas (8th round-80th pick)
DEF- Seattle (9th round-81st pick)

Key backups drafted: QB Philip Rivers (10th round-100th pick), RB Jerious Norwood (13th round-121st pick), WR Bernard Berrian (11th round-101st pick), TE Tony Scheffler (12th round-120th pick)

Season Prediction: This team, like the Kansas City Chefs, had high draft picks. Also like the Chefs, they are in a 10 team league. They have the same starting QBs and TEs (Hasselbeck and Gates). The strength of this team is depth at WR and TE along with two quality starting RBs. The weakness of this team is depth at RB. It will be hard to judge how this team will fare in a league of unknowns. However, given the talent level of this team, it would be hard pressed not to list them as a favorite to win Division 1 and possibly the entire league.

This has been the great Fantasy Football Preview Extravaganza. Early next week (probably by Wednesday) will be the Week 1 preview matchups from each league. Until then, later days...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Predictions for the 2008 NFL Season

I'm excited about football season starting up soon, especially the NFL. So without further adieu, here's my picks:

NFC East:
NY Giants

NFC North:
Green Bay

NFC South:
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

NFC West:
St. Louis
San Francisco

Wild Cards: Philadelphia, Detroit

AFC East:
New England
NY Jets

AFC North:

AFC South:

AFC West:
San Diego
Kansas City

Wild Cards: Tennessee, Pittsburgh

SUPER BOWL - Seattle over Tennessee

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sixth Royals Game In Review

Last Saturday I went to my sixth Royals game. I went with my friend Kyle. He led a group of youth and parents from the church where we works as a youth pastor. I ended up getting a free ticket so I figured why not. It was Christian Family Night at the ball park along with Giant Banner Flag Giveaway. So far this season, every night I've went to the ball park that has had a giveaway I've gotten something.

The Royals played the Detroit Tigers. The game itself wasn't a great one. The Royals lost 4-0 on three runs on sacrifice flies and a solo home run. So now the Royals are 1-5 in games that I see them play in this year.

Afterwards there was a concert (hence the Christian Family Night). They had Chris Sligh (an American Idol finalist) and Natalie Grant. Before the concert started, Brian Bannister, Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman each spoke a few minutes and shared a little about their faith. The concert itself was okay. At that point I was just tired and ready for bed.

I'll probably go to one more game before the season is over. Then I'll make some reflections and assessments on the season as a whole.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Reflections on the 2008 Olympic Games

The last day of the 2008 Summer Olympics has come. And while there are so many stories to tell, here are a few snippets of what I'll take from it.

*It was something special to see Michael Phelps achieve what he did. So many times we hear about athletes and how they are favored to win games or events but they aren't able to whether by great competitors or underachieving. Phelps was able to accomplish the feat of 8 gold medals by his talents and also through teammates in the relays. More so in the water, I was impressed by him out of the water. For 23 years old, he seemed very mature. I hope to see and hear more good things out of him.

*The Redeem Team took care of business, winning the gold medal and going 8-0 in the games. It was the first time in my mind since the first two Dream Teams (1992, 1996) where the players really respected the country in which they played for and the other countries as well. And though I never thought I'd say this, I have come to respect Kobe Bryant. I think this experience with him in the Olympics has made him a better athlete and a better person. Though I wouldn't go as far as to say I will root for the guy in the future, he has earned my respect and that's saying something.

*For as much as there was made about they Olympics being in China, there was a lot of positive stories to come out of there. Though there is a lot of negative stuff that still surrounds this country regarding civil rights and oppression of the Gospel, hopefully these past two weeks have been an opportunity that God will use to open the country up and for people both inside the country and out to see what all is available to them.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Predictions for the 2008 College Football Season

As a break from blogging about the Olympics, it's almost time for my favorite time of the season! And as a way of showing how right and wrong I can be, I'll be doing predictions on the college and pro level. This entry will be focused on college. First, here's my predicions for the conference champions:

ACC: Virginia Tech
Big 12: Missouri
Big East: Connecticut
Big Ten: Illinois
Conference USA: University of Central Florida (UCF)
Mid-American: Ball State
Mountain West: Air Force
Pac-10: Arizona State
SEC: Tennessee (I know I'm a homer)
Sun Belt: Troy
WAC: Boise State

Other prediction:

Washington will make a bowl game (yes I know another homer pick)

Heisman winner: Chase Daniel - QB, Missouri

National Championship: Arizona State vs Missouri

National Champion: Missouri

So there you go, feel free to agree or disagree and give your opinion on the subject.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reflections on The Redeem Team

One of the major stories coming into the 2008 Olympic Games was the U.S. Men's Basketball team. The team, made up of NBA players, has been dubbed the "Redeem Team" because of recent play by the U.S. team in recent years.

Initially, when professionals began playing for the U.S. back in 1992, they were the "Dream Team". They were the best of the best and it showed as they steamrolled over the competition as they went on to win the gold medal. They duplicated that success in 1996 and in 2000 winning gold medals in those games as well. However, the rest of the world began to catch up with the U.S. team. As more international players came to play in the NBA along with a decline in talent and teamwork on the U.S. squad, the gap closed and came to a head in 2002 at the World Championships. As the host nation, the U.S. finished a disappointing 6th place. The disappointment continued at the 2004 Olympics where the team finished with the bronze medal and at the 2006 World Championships they finished with the bronze.

For the Bejing Olympics, there was a major emphasis for the U.S. to get back to the dominance that they had for many years. They got one of the best college coaches (Mike Krzyzewski) to coach the team. They stressed more team play and less individualism. They got some of the best players both young and established (Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd). The "Redeem Team" was to go, win the gold medal, and show the U.S. as a top team in the world again.

So far, the team has not disappointed. They have went 3-0 in pool play so far beating China, Angola and Greece in convincing fashion. They have played like a team both on offense and on defense. They have even got me rooting for a team with Kobe and Coach K on it. Though there is still several games to go before the medal round, all signs are pointing to a strong run and potentially a return to the gold medal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Michael Phelps = The Man

I've enjoyed so far watching what's taken place at the Olympics. The beach volleyball performances have been great. The "Redeem Team" (which I'll talk more on in another post) beat the host team with about a billion people watching around the world. But the coolest thing has been seeing Michael Phelps in action in swimming. He has gotten off to a great start with three gold medals so far and has produced some memorable moments in doing it.

Probably the best moment (in my opinion) was the performance that he and the U.S. 4x100 freestyle relay team did on Monday morning in Bejing (or Sunday night here). It was considered an event that the U.S. used to dominate for many years but recently had not won in the Olympics. The French were the upstart favorites and even did some trash talking saying they were going to smash the Americans. But as the old saying goes, you don't win on paper.

It was probably one of the best finishes to an event I've ever seen. To come back and win by essentially hundreths of a second is tremendous. I was jumping up and down and yelling when the finish happened. It was definitely a cool moment.

Sometimes we have people that we heavily hype up but they don't live up to the hype. Michael Phelps is a great athlete and I would not be surprised if he ended up with 8 gold medals at this Olympics. It will be worth watching to see how thing play out in the rest of the events.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reflecting on The Olympics (Opening Weekend)

The 2008 Summer Olympics started this weekend. I love the Olympics, partly because of the world competition and partly because it falls on Leap Year (well the Summer ones do). It's one of those times I wish I had cable but at least during the weekends there's a lot on regular TV.

I love how the Olympics help to promote stories as well as events. It's so interesting to learn about the background of the athletes both of the favorites and the underdogs.

It's during the Olympics that events such as swimming, track and field, gymnastics get the main attention. It's the only time I'll root for a team with Kobe Bryant on it. It's the time when there are compelling stories about people that transcend nation and race. In some ways, it's a reflection in some way of how the church is supposed to be. The church made up of people of every nation, people group, language all coming together to celebrate and worship.

So, if you want to know what I'll be watching the next few weeks, this is it :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Red Sox Nation in Kansas City....Fifth Royals Game In Review

Tuesday was a big day. It was a part of the yearly tradition I have done since 2005. That tradition being attending a Red Sox game. This year was no exception. I purchased the tickets way in advance and got some really prime seats (fifth row seats, lower level, third base side). I was excited and ready to get to the game.

My buddy and huge Royals fan Kyle went with me. He wore his Billy Butler jersey while I wore my David Ortiz jersey. We got to the stadium about 20 minutes prior to first pitch so I was unable to get pictures of batting practice like I normally do. But I was just happy to make it there before the game started.

Some highlights and thoughts:

*It was really nice to see a good Red Sox starting pitcher. Josh Beckett pitched that night. After getting the likes of Wade Miller, Kyle Snyder and Kason Gabbard, it was a treat to see the ace of the staff pitch. And I wasn't disappointed. He pitched a great game and got the win. I saw first hand what I had seen many times on TV, when he has his stuff going there are very few people who can keep up with him.

*I was happy that Jacoby Ellsbury had a good night at the plate. He's been in kind of a slump this year. Hopefully this will be the catalyst to get him going for the rest of the season.

*One sad thing happened at the ball park. There was a foul ball that hit a little kid right on the nose. It was a high pop up that carried foul. It came right to our section probably ten to fifteen rows back from where we were. One guy had his hands up and completely missed the ball. It went right through his hands and hit the kid who was sitting down next to him. They called the ushers over to attend to the kid. In the end, he was okay.

*I saw the play where the ball hung up on the fence. Though I was disappointed that it wasn't called a home run. I understand why it didn't. Kauffman Stadium does not have a yellow line on it's walls. For those who don't know, a yellow line means if it hits that line, it's a home run. So here, if it hits the top of the fence and bounces back, it's not a home run. Or, if it stays on top of the fence like it did then, it's not a home run. It may be something that gets looked at in the offseason or it may not I don't know.

*It was kind of funny when there was a Red Sox chant going. The Royals fans would start in with their chant. When that happened, it sounded muddled because both teams start with the letter R. So it sounded like loud mumbling. Like I said, kind of funny.

*Overall, it was a good time. Sat next to some interesting Red Sox fans and talked with throughout the game. Red Sox won the game 8-2 (which unfortunately puts the record of the Royals at games I attend at 1-4) and improved their record of games I attend to 3-1.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Reflections on Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008

The recent inductees of the Pro Football Hall of Fame took place this weekend in Canton, Ohio. Here's some thoughts and reflections about the new hall of fame class:

*You don't realize you're old until you start seeing players that you watched growing up get enshrined in the Hall of Fame. This started happening a few years ago and again some more players that I watched as a kid went in to the Hall. It's interesting to watch highlights and it reminds me of growing up and watching these players as a kid and it makes me a little nostalgic.

*One of my favorite players growing up was Darrell Green. I loved watching him playing cornerback. He was the type of player that when you think about speed, he was that kind of guy. He was also very consistent as well. Game in and game out, you got a player who would give you everything he had and he was great at it. He is also a very comitted follower of Jesus. This was also something that I greatly admired in him. He's one of the good guys that got the recoginition he deserved.

*Another Redskins player that I grew up watching was Art Monk. I loved (and still love) the position of wide receiver. Before it became the "prima donna" position, you had guys like Art Monk. He was one of those guys that would consistently make plays and win games for you. He was a part of those Super Bowl teams during the 80s for the 'Skins. He, along with Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, were one of the best recevier corps in the league during that era. His induction was long overdue and I was glad that he did.