Wednesday, April 1, 2009

VSR: How to flunk Bracketology 101 (while waiting for a Dodger distraction)

The recent events of this week forced me to postpone the Virgosis Sports Report. I was gonna do it last night but a long night at the office (3:30 bed time) coupled with an early wake-up call (5 am PST/7 am CST) led to me feeling mentally dizzy and unable to do anything but read James Baldwin and listen to the I-pod. So here we go....

Flunking Bracketology 101 is no easy feat, especially when the Sweet Sixteen was sweet and I was a futile comeback away from having a perfect Elite Eight. (Note to self: Never put faith in Memphis again, especially after John Calipari is headed to K-Tuck now...two years and counting). It's like acing a pivotal quiz only to flunk on the last major exam before finals. Pitt and Louisville (my title game picks) just croaked before my eyes and only the hated UNC bunch made me smile.

Welp, we got no choice but look at what we got here and see what to make of it. I'm gonna take Carolina and UConn to advance and UConn will be cutting down the nets for the 3rd time in 10 years....congrats.

The Lakers finally come home after that 7-game trip that just sucked the life out of them. 2 sluggish losses and a sluggish victory tonight have left them two games behind Cleveland for home-court advantage. Fortunately some home-cooking this week could be a boost but the biggest boost could come if we get Andrew Bynum back by the postseason, if recent reports are true.

By the way, that story about Bynum at the Playboy Mansion...a non-issue to me. Oh, let's get mad because somebody who is probably rehabbing every day to get back for the playoffs took time out to party. You think he's rehabbing 24/7??? If you do, then you should have no problem if your boss is mad if you partied away from company time. Much ado about nothing and Shakespeare would laugh at what fools you mortals be.

"These hussies won't catch thy use of my language but keepeth on preaching, fellow scribe."

Anyways, the only games that really matter now are Houston on Sunday, revenge for Denver on Tuesday and Utah in the season finale (all at home). Other than that, we're just waiting for the postseason.

And its tiiiiiime for baseball season (cue the Vin Scully and Dodger Stadium organ). Opening Day starts Sunday but for my beloved Boys in Blue, their season starts with their own trip to San Diego, which I assume will go just as well as mine considering the Padres are expected to lie at the bottom of the MLB barrel.

Dodger fans are happy that Manny Ramirez has been signed, sealed and delivered but despite how good our offense just got, our weakness is going to be our pitching staff. With only three spots locked down (Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw), the rest is up for grabs with the likes of Randy Wolf, Jason Schmidt (so far, healthy) and James McDonald, last year's surprise in the NLCS.

I'm honestly worried about how to fill those two spots. I really like McDonald in there at the No. 5 spot because he's been one of our better prospects the last few years but I'm worried that he might get sent back to the farm to tighten him up (a la David Price in Tampa Bay...hence why I had to sadly clip him off my fantasy team). If Schmidt is fine, he's No. 4...if not for Andruw Jones, he'd be the biggest bust the Dodgers have had since Darren Dreifort's contract. I seriously can't remember a meaningful start he's hard in Dodger Blue.

Pretty much, either guy needs to eat enough innings to give our solid bullpen a chance (Cory Wade is a solid set-up man but we need Jonathan Broxton to step up and be the closer).

Offense-wise, all eyes are on outfielder Matt Kemp. I mentioned my thoughts on him in this week's paper (Link coming in the morning) but I have high hopes for him after he worked on cutting down his strikeouts in the second half. He'll probably benefit most from Manny as he settles into that No. 5-6 spot and I won't be surprised if he winds up close to a 30-30 season (not 40-40 like most think). This will be the year he moves from being just a great athlete to a solid player.

Besides Kemp, Rafael Furcal is perhaps our most pivotal player. He sets the tone in the leadoff position and with him being hurt last year, it was hard finding any sense of a spark plug. And in a a pitcher's park like Dodger Stadium, he was sorely missed. We're definitely the favorites to win the NL West but it's anyone's guess how far we can get in the NL playoffs.

By the way, i'm gonna try my hand at fantasy baseball again (P-Nuts and Cracker Jax in the Road to Cooperstown league). Led by NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Mo Rivera, and Francisco Liriano on the mound and Curtis Granderson, B.J. Upton, Alex Rios and Michael Young at the plate, I'm gonna try to keep my eye on it and see what happens.

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