Monday, July 24, 2006

Teams you love to hate but will occasionally root for

by F-Bomb

From time to time the average college football will fill his day with other games while waiting for their game to come on. So when we sit down to watch a rivalry game like that of Michigan and Michigan State, we must pick someone to root for, but who? I say to this we must root for MSU. Despite the fact that ND has suffered at the hands of MSU a ton over the past several years, we must pull for them. This all stems from the history of MSU and Michigan. Basically Michigan tried to blacklist MSU from joining the Big Ten conference prior to 1950. Often Michigan looks at MSU as the bastard step child while U of M is the prim and proper heir to the throne of everything. So rooting for MSU is rooting for the underdog everywhere. It’s the same as rooting for Rocky or Rudy. So once again we find ourselves rooting for those we hate.

This occurs with other Notre Dame opponents as well.

When you see the famed winged helmets of Michigan hatred brews from deep within.

Being Notre Dame Alums, we hate Michigan like no other team on our schedule. We can all point to one game or another over the years where Michigan has just killed ND in terms of score or their spirit. However lately I have found myself rooting for the Maize and Blue. This is blasphemous for sure but it’s the lesser of two evils when they play those Scarlet and Gray wearing Hellions from Columbus. So here we are, as the title of the article suggests, rooting for a team we love to hate.

You can even root for Purdue but that is solely out of pity for them.

Now, from year to year the balance may swing from one team to the other. These choices for teams to root for are not concrete. Years when Ohio St. is down and Michigan is up then we switch but I really dislike OSU.

You may ask yourself if it’s ever alright to root for USC or Ohio State and the short answer to that is as long as they are winning this much, then NO.

So in the end its alright to root for ND opponents.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

On the Bandwagon

OK, so I didn't buy an XBox 360. But I did finally break down and buy a PS2. It's one of the newer, "slimline" models, and it's pretty nice. Babbage's had quite a few copies of NCAA Football 07 in a locked display case. I held my breath when I asked for it, though, as the salesperson easily could have handed me a copy with a Brutus Buckeye cover [PDF]. I also picked up MVP NCAA Baseball 06 (ping!) and NCAA March Madness, featuring the back of Bill "D-Day" LaFleur's head.

My blog productivity has been poor as of late, and these purchases certainly won't help. Which reminds me - before I go on vacation, guest columns are due by 5 PM Eastern this Wednesday.

Oh, and if I decide to get Madden this year, I already have an image picked out for the custom cover:

Yes Andy, I do have to talk like that.
I hope your fiancee can protect you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

NBA Draft "Never Heard of Him": Year 2

A few weeks back, I posted this year's "Never Heard of Him" poll results. Now that the draft is done, it's time to crunch numbers.

For each of our pollster's names, a 1 indicates that that person has heard of the player. A 0 means they have never heard of the player.
For the Round, -1 indicates the player later withdrew from the draft. 0 means they remained draft eligible but went undrafted. I included only players who went to American colleges, since I apparently did the same thing last year. I know the formatting sucks, but just bear with me please.

Player CollegeAndyDaveEllenHattonKankaKlondikeTaraTotalPickRoundOverall
Akbar Abdul-Ahad Idaho State000000000-10
Arron Afflalo UCLA110110040-10
LaMarcus Aldridge Texas11011015212
Morris Almond Rice000000000-10
Renaldo Balkman South Carolina1000000120120
Larry Blair Liberty000000000-10
Will Blalock Iowa State0100100230260
Jahsha Bluntt Delaware State000000000-10
Josh Boone Connecticut1111101623123
Ronnie Brewer Arkansas0100000114114
Bobby Brown Cal State-Fullerton000000000-10
Shannon Brown Michigan State0101001325125
Derek Burditt Blinn College (TX)00000000000
LeRoy Dawson Emporia State (KS)000000000-10
Travis DeGroot Delta State00000000000
Guillermo Diaz Miami (FL)0011000222252
Cem Dinc Indiana100110030-10
Quincy Douby Rutgers1111100519119
Mike Efevberha Cal-State Northridge01010002000
Carl Elliott George Washington000100010-10
Jordan Farmar UCLA1101101526126
Nick Fazekas Nevada110110040-10
Thomas Gardner Missouri11010104000
Rudy Gay Connecticut11111016818
Reggie George Robert Morris College (IL)000000000-10
Daniel Gibson Texas11001003000
Aaron Gray Pittsburgh110111160-10
LeShawn Hammett St. Francis (PA)00000000000
Brandon Heath San Diego State100000010-10
Tedric Hill Gulf Coast CC (FL)00000000000
Clarence Holloway IMG Academy (FL)000000000-10
Ekene Ibekwe Maryland110010030-10
Donald Jeffes Roxbury CC (MA)00000000000
Alexander Johnson Florida State0000000015245
David Johnson Clinton JC (SC)00000000000
Trey Johnson Jackson State000000110-10
Coby Karl Boise State000000000-10
Mark Konecny Lambuth University (TN)00000000000
Kyle Lowry Villanova1111101624124
Aleks Maric Nebraska000000000-10
Japhet McNeil East Carolina000000000-10
Paul Millsap Louisiana Tech0000000017247
Matt Mitchell Southern University-New Orleans00000000000
Adam Morrison Gonzaga11111117313
Patrick O'Bryant Bradley11010003919
Evan Patterson Texas Wesleyan000000000-10
Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock George Washington0000100128258
Leon Powe California00000000000
Richard Roby Colorado000000000-10
Rajon Rondo Kentucky0101101421121
Blake Schilb Loyola University (IL)000100010-10
Mustafa Shakur Arizona011111160-10
Cedric Simmons North Carolina State0100000115115
Marcus Slaughter San Diego State11000002000
Curtis Stinson Iowa State01101003000
Tyrus Thomas LSU01011014414
P.J. Tucker Texas110111165235
Jontae Vinson Cal State- Los Angeles000000000-10
Ian Vouyoukas St. Louis100100020-10
Darius Washington Jr. Memphis01000012000
Albert Weber Connors State000000000-10
Marcus Williams Connecticut1111101622122
Shawne Williams Memphis0111101517117

For those of you who like pretty pictures, here's the graphical evidence, including only those players who left school early.

This year's results break down thusly:
TypeTotal "Heard of Hims"PlayersAverage
Drafted (Combined)79223.590909091

Combined with last year's numbers, you get results like this:
TypeTotal "Heard of Hims"PlayersAverage
Drafted (Combined)124452.755555556

As you can see, the difference between being taken in the second round and not being taken at all is still slim. But some trends are beginning to form. If close to half of the people polled have heard of you, you should get drafted. If 60% or more have heard of you, you have a good chance at the first round.

Well, that's it for this year. Perhaps next year I can incorporate the following things:
  • Breaking down the first round into lottery/non-lottery picks.

  • Comparing Big East players to non-Big East players (since all people polled to date have been Notre Dame fans, and therefore more familiar with the Big East).

  • Include foreign players.

  • See what affect CBS's annual "Tournament Human Interest Story about a Guy With a Very Cool Name" has on name recognition.

By the way, I'd like to say hello to His Eminence Cardinal Tauran, Vatican Archivist and Librarian, who Googled himself and came across my "Who Will be the Next Pope?" column.

Monday, July 17, 2006

What We're Working On

...or at least thinking of working on.
  • NBA Draft "Never Heard of Him" results. No, really - I have the numbers somewhere.

  • A massive Transaction Wire, coming right after the MLB trade deadline, and including thoughts on the trade of Gerome Sapp to the Ravens, Jeff Samardzija's callup to Low A Peoria, and ND baseball's coaching situation.

  • A "best case scenario" look at current and former Cleveland Indians still active in the majors.

  • First-person reporting from Browns training camp!

  • Guest columns galore! (Hint, hint.)

KankaManiacs can also look forward to the following events (which I may or may not have made up):
  • Kanka's 2007 Midwest Barnstorming Tour

  • Notre Dame Bloggers Tailgate, possibly coinciding with the band reunion/Third Kankaversary celebration Stanford weekend.

  • Win a Date with Kanka Contest (Those currently engaged to fellow KankaManiacs are inelligible.)

Last, pop quiz: Separated at birth?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Breaking Down the MLB All Star Voting

I broke each position down four ways. First is the actual fan voting winner, followed by the guy with the best statistical season. Next is the Peter Gammons-friendly choice, a young up-and-comer (or an old up-and-comer), or a veteran come back from the dead. Finally is the name I put down on the ballot. Now, I'm not afraid to say that I'm an Indians fan, and I'm not afraid to vote that way. I don't always vote along party lines, but I have no qualms with voting for a Clevelander who's got a legitimate argument.

American League


Fan's Pick: Pudge Rodriguez
By the Numbers: Joe Mauer
Gammonsesque Pick: Mauer
My Pick: Victor Martinez
Pudge won a close vote against Mauer by virtue of being a guy that people have heard of. With a .378 average and 7 steals, Mauer is playing more like a young Kirby Puckett (or even a young Tony Gwynn) than a young Matt Walbeck. He'll get to backup Rodriguez.
Martinez has the edge over Rodriguez in most offensive categories. He has more homers and RBI than Mauer, and trails only Roberto Hernandez among AL catchers in those categories. Arguably, Hernandez is another AL snub.

First Base

Fan's Pick: David Ortiz
By the Numbers: Ortiz
Gammonsesque Pick: Justin Morneau
My Pick: Travis Hafner
This is one of a few AL positions with a Red Sock and a Yankee in the top two in votes. Ortiz and Jason Giambi are deserving to some extent. But if Paul Konerko or Hafner (who finished third and fourth, respectively) were beneficiaries of the East Coast Bias, they would probably be in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. (Well, Konerko is, but that's another story.)

Second Base

Fan's Pick: Mark Loretta
By the Numbers: Tad Iguchi
Gammonsesque Pick: Jose Lopez
My Pick: Lopez
Yet another position where Boston and New York finished 1-2. Robinson Cano was leading the voting for a while, probably until his injury. However, his numbers are nothing spectacular. Loretta is having a decent season, and he's always been a solid ballplayer. Still, you have to wonder how many Boston fans who voted for him were saying "who is this guy?" at the beginning of the season.
Lopez, who was selected as a backup, and Iguchi have a definite argument here. I'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Third Base

Fan's Pick: Alex Rodriguez
By the Numbers: Rodriguez
Gammonsesque Pick: Troy Glaus
My Pick: Glaus
You'll never guess who finished second: Boston's Mike Lowell. Lowell is having a decent season, and is a legit contender for Comeback Player of the Year.
Arguments about Joe Crede and his defense aside, there isn't a young up-and-coming AL third baseman with a legitimate argument for the All Star team. So, the Gammonsesque pick goes to Glaus, on whom the Angels gave up several years ago. His average is mediocre (.241), but he does have 23 HR, 60 R, and 60 RBI. Glaus will backup A-Rod and participate in the Home Run Derby.


Fan's Pick: Derek Jeter
By the Numbers: Jeter/Miguel Tejada
Gammonsesque Pick: Michael Young/Orlando Cabrera
My Pick: Tejada
This one's basically a tossup. Jeter has better stats as a tablesetter, batting 30 points higher than Tejada with 14 more SB. But Tejada, who's no slouch with a .315 average, his 12 more HR, 4 more R, and 10 more RBI.
Michael Young is having a typical Michael Young year, so he's barely Gammonsesque any more. Cabrera, typically a role player, deserves some credit for his best numbers since his final season in Montreal.
Tejeda and Young will backup Jeter while Cabrera stays home.


Fan's Picks: Manny Ramirez, Vlad Guerrero, Ichiro!
By the Numbers: Ramirez, Vernon Wells, Grady Sizemore
Gammonsesque Picks: Raul Ibanez, Jermaine Dye, Mags Ordonez
My Picks: Sizemore, Wells, Ibanez
Well, you can't argue with the numbers of the top three guys. But Wells is having a great season. Toronto fans have been waiting for years for him to break out and become a superstar; it looks like he's finally made that leap. Sizemore is a star on the rise that gives his all on every play. He'll end up a #3 hitter some day, but for now he's doing a great job in the leadoff spot. He's first in the AL with 71 runs and is on pace for 30 homers. Plus, he's a Web Games staple.
The Gammonsesque picks pay tribute to some veterans who have shown some longevity and endurance. Ibanez has quitely become a "stat sheet stuffer" over the past few years in Seattle. This season he has 20 homers and 70 RBI already. And, even with Jim Thome on his team, I don't know how Dye hasn't been getting more press with a .318 average and 25 HR and 68 RBI of his own. Ordonez, meanwhile, looks like the Ordonez of old with a .312 average and 62 RBI.
Dye, Sizemore, Wells, and Ordonez will be the backup outfielders, along with Texas' Gary Matthews, Jr., who is also having a solid season. (And did you see that catch?)

National League


Fan's Pick: Paul Lo Duca
By the Numbers: Johnny Estrada/Michael Barrett
Gammonsesque Pick: Brian McCann
My Pick: McCann
Estrada and Barrett are neck-and-neck numbers-wise, but Lo Duca gets the edge thanks to a large city fanbase and a the Mets' spectacular record.
McCann, Lo Duca's backup, is essentially Mauer's NL counterpart. The 22-year-old was leading the NL in hitting before an injury. He's still batting .343. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to lose his job to fellow prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia this past spring.

First Base

Fan's Pick: Albert Pujols
By the Numbers: Pujols
Gammonsesque Pick: Nomar Garciaparra/Ryan Howard
My Pick: Pujols
Well, it's Albert Pujols. Duh. Garciaparra and Howard both put up numbers worthy of making the NL team, but for different reasons. Garciaparra is leading the NL with a .358 average, while Howard has 27 HR and 72 RBI. Lance Berkman, also having a stellar season, will be in Pittsburgh as a first baseman/outfielder/Home Run Derby participant.

Second Base

Fan's Pick: Chase Utley
By the Numbers: Utley
Gammonsesque Pick: Dan Uggla
My Pick: Uggla
This solidifies Utley's star status, as if the .312 average, 16 HR, and 71 runs weren't enough. Uggla has been a very pleasant suprise on a Florida team that wasn't supposed to do anthing this year. Uggla will backup Utley.
Hometown star Jose Castillo finished second in the voting, but unfortunately didn't make the roster. Castillo keeps getting his name in the news, both for his glove and his bat. I'm really starting to like this kid. His future is very bright and he's sure to be an All Star one day.

Third Base

Fan's Pick: David Wright
By the Numbers: Wright
Gammonsesque Pick: Garrett Atkins/Freddy Sanchez/Ryan Zimmerman
My Pick: Wright

Wright is another young player whose star status was cemented by this year's All Star voting. It's hard to pick between Wright, Miguel Cabrera, and Scott Rolen, so the NL squad took all three.
Also on the team is local star Freddy Sanchez, who is percentage points behind Nomar with a .358 batting average. The former top Red Sox prospect will certainly be an asset to the Senior Circuit team, as he can play all three infield positions. The Rockies, like the Marlins, are playing well when no one expected them to. One of the reasons why is Atkins, who is hitting .306 with 11 HR and 55+ runs and RBI.
Zimmerman is an especially Gammonsesque player. A year out of college, everyone knew he was already Gold Glove caliber defensively. But most didn't think he was anywhere near the Major League level as a hitter. He's silenced critics so far with a .287 average, 12 HR, and 59 HR. With Wright, Cabrera, and Zimmerman all under the age of 25, NL fans will enjoy quality hot corner plays for the next decade at least.


Fan's Pick: Jose Reyes
By the Numbers: Reyes
Gammonsesque Pick: Hanley Ramirez/Bill Hall
My Pick: Reyes
Reyes leads all of baseball with 75 runs and 39 steals, with a .300 average to boot. Hard to argue with that.
Ramirez and Hall have put up decent numbers, but perhaps not All Star quality. Ramirez, another former Red Sox shortstop prospect, is having a decent rookie season with 69 runs and 26 steals. Utilityman Hall has 17 HR and has played well defensively at a number of positions.


Fan's Picks: Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano
By the Numbers: Beltran, Matt Holliday, Carlos Lee
Gammonsesque Picks: Bay, Beltran, Soriano
My Picks: Bay, Beltran, Holliday
Carlos Beltran has faced some heavy criticism over the past few years. Twenty-five homers, 12 steals, 66 runs, 68 RBI, and a .279 average should do well to silence those critics. Bay's 21 HR and 66 RBI are enough to legitimize the hometown poster boy's spot in the starting lineup. Soriano may not be a leadoff hitter, but he is on pace for a 40-40 season in homers and steals.
Holliday is another surprise out of Colorado, with a .337 average (hoo hoo), 16 HR, and 61 R. Carlos Lee is having an average year by his standards, with a .290 average, 26 HR and 73 RBI. They'll be joined on the bench by Andruw Jones, who has 20 RBI and 75 RBI. Jones continues to develop into a solid all-around hitter, instead of just an all-or-nothing guy.