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Depressing and Obligatory: A 2015 Atlanta #BARVES Preview


Last year, the only baseball writing on this site was a #BARVES preview, wherein I explained what #BARVESing was. The only feedback received was from another DudeYouCrazy staffer’s mother, who questioned whether I was dyslexic in saying BARVES instead of Braves, the name donned on the home white jerseys.

Well, I was right to do so, as the team #BARVESED its way to an 11-22 finish, averaging about two runs per game with what was, on paper, a formidable lineup.

That lineup is gone, and 2015 will be the year of even more #BARVES. Gone are the bats of Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis. They will all be replaced by guys who are projected to finish in the bottom third of the league in hitting competency. Interim GM John Hart won’t commit to rebuilding, operating under the guise that the team will contend this year. Don’t be fooled, this team is going to suck out loud.

Potential Bright Spots

The Braves did manage to keep a young, team-controlled core intact despite the winter fire sale. Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller, and former Bulldog Alex Wood should anchor a young rotation that will have to overachieve yet again for the Braves to crack 70 wins. First baseman Freddie Freeman will draw a TON of walks, given his slow baserunning and the utter lack of competent hitters surrounding him in the lineup. And shortstop Andrelton Simmons will be Ozzie Smith-esque in the field again, even if he can’t really hit.

Closer Craig Kimbrel returns, but paying $10 million for a closer on a bad team seems foolish. I relegate him to the second (and final) graf of potential bright spots, because logic dictates (and prays) that he will be traded for some almost-MLB-ready bats to a team desperate for a closer at the trade deadline.

And that’s it! The Gwinnett Braves are your best bet to find guys who may help the team in the future, as highly-rated prospects such as trade returns SP Mike Foltyniwecz (sp?), 3B Rio Ruiz, and UTIL Jace Peterson, as well as future 2B Jose Peraza, will be honing their crafts in Lawrenceville. Hey, beer is cheaper at minor league games.

Holes

Everywhere. With Mike Minor starting the season on the DL, the pitching staff will rely on old castoffs by the name of Eric Stults and Wandy Rodriguez as starters for a good bit of the season. I had never heard of these two gentlemen prior to reading a few previews to get me amped for this post. And this on the team’s strength.

Left Field, Center Field, 3rd base, 2nd base, Catcher: manned by guys the casual fan has never heard of, except for Chris Johnson at 3rd. Johnson plays a laughable defensive hot corner, and his bat in no way compensates. LF and CF will be manned by guys named Eric Young Jr., Eury Perez, Todd Cunningham, and Zolio Almonte, all low-ceiling guys, most cast off by New York teams (Cunningham was a Braves draft pick, but the rest are all former Mets/Yankees. If those anemic teams can’t use them, surely the #BARVES can.) Melvin (erstwhile B.J.) Upton will actually represent an upgrade when he returns from injury. The same B.J. who, by all statistical measures, has been the worst everyday player in the league for the past two years running. Yeah.

Manager: Fredi Gonzalez and his “I don’t think he sucks, he just needs more at-bats” managerial style are back for a fourth (and hopefully last) season of mind-numbingly poor decisions. His mismanagement of bullpen innings, ignorance of rudimentary stats such as on-base percentage, and overall ineptitude have been the common denominator of the team’s downfall for each of the past three seasons.

This Season is a Success If…

I want to say if the team finishes ahead of the Phillies and avoids last place, but I think I’d rather have the high draft pick in 2016.

If the front office stops deluding itself into thinking the team is actually capable of making a push for the playoffs and trades Kimbrel for a good return, I can get on board with the Cobb County Braves in 2017 being decent. Otherwise, the team is going all 2000 Hawks and running in place.

 

That’s all I have. I’ll still be a fan, because Tuesday night games on $4 Stubhub tickets in the Chophouse are peak Atlanta summertime existence. But if you’re looking for winning baseball (let’s be honest, nobody watches baseball on TV anyway), I’d suggest an MLB Extra Innings subscription.

GO BARVES!

SECual Healing: A Weekly Dose of SEC Football


There’s a major reason I’m glad I don’t write about sports professionally, even though I got an undergraduate degree in doing exactly that: I loathe fabricating news. The offseason in college football is all about that.

(So and so) was taking snaps with the first team offense today! Did he really unseat (established all-SEC veteran)?

Is (insert 5-star recruit) a secret commit?

Fortunately, if you sporadically send news as it comes along, you sacrifice page views but actually put out a decent snapshot of your subject matter! As such, here is the first SECual Healing.

Alabama

Big and Georgia-relevant news out of T-Town, as former UGA DT Jonathan Taylor was arrested on his second felony sexual assault charge. The story has become Nick Saban’s nonchalance in stating he was ‘giving Taylor a second chance’. I’m not touching this one, as there are no circumstances in which a man should lay a hand on a woman.

Rising sophomore RB Tyren Jones was booted for marijuana possession, which will hurt the Tide a lot more than Taylor’s absence. The sophomore was the logical ‘next in line’ after the T.J. Yeldon/Kenyan Drake/Derrick Henry triumvirate departs.

Hey, at least Alabama has a more stringent weed policy than Auburn.

LSU/Texas A&M

Staying in the SEC West, a must-read on new Texas A&M DC John Chavis, who bolted from LSU. Three major themes of note here:

1) The acrimony in the fallout of his departure from Baton Rouge, typical of any SEC-to-SEC coaching move;

2) A paradigm shift in the minds of defensive coordinators. Chavis felt that his defense had to be world-class to compete for the CFP, and left to coach opposite a hurry-up no-huddle offense at A&M. Historically, the overwhelming thought has been that that ruins a DC’s rep. In addition to Chavis’ move, Auburn hired Will Muschamp and (shameless UNC plug here because duh), Gene Chizik is the new DC in Chapel Hill. Three good opportunities to test this new theory.

3) Piggybacking on number 2, Chavis knew he could become the scapegoat with another underachieving D. But the talent he loses to early entry every year is insane. He lost 6 starters TO EARLY ENTRY ALONE prior to the 2014 season, and DT Ego Ferguson made 7 in last year’s draft.

Ole Miss

The Rebels shored up their linebacking corps by moving DE C.J. Johnson to a new position. The nation’s #1 scoring defense (speaking of HUNH offenses and their counterparts) looks to keep leveraging the depth from that one recruiting class that still makes no sense.

SEC East

Simply not as much excitement here, so I’ll link my rambling spring thoughts on South Carolina and Tennessee. Hoping to get to Florida and Mizzou this week, and the Alabama schools after that.

And finally…

A big shoutout to our editor-in-chief, who is now father to a beautiful baby girl.

Sincerest Apologies for More Basketball, Dear Reader: A Sweet 16 Primer


As it always does, the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament gave us some great moments. Great moments, such as R.J. Hunter’s buzzer-beater (and his torn-Achilles’d dad/coach falling out of his stool) will echo in eternity, as the NCAA’s corporate partners use buzzer beaters and catatonic losing players to somehow convince you that Pontiac still exists as a producer of automobiles. These moments also overshadow what can be some pretty shoddy basketball.

N.C. State/Villanova, won in the waning seconds on a tip-in? Preceded by seven minutes of atrocious basketball, with both teams apparently trying to throw the game South Park style. Georgia/Michigan St.? Teased us for a few minutes because Michigan State fouled on multiple layups, missed some key free throws, and won on the strength of Georgia choking just a little worse.

The Sweet 16, at the very least, is where the cream starts to rise to the top. Your top NBA prospects (referenced in last week’s tourney primer) are almost all still in play. Kentucky is still undefeated, Duke is still alive with its 3 lottery picks, and that big white dude from Wisconsin is still set to have that awkward Naismith Award interview during halftime of one of the Final Four games.

BASKETBALL ON!

Thursday/Saturday Brackets

Midwest: #1 Kentucky vs. #5 West Virginia, #3 Notre Dame vs. #7 Wichita State

By FAR the most intriguing bracket, because 1) Kentucky, duh; 2) their opponents/potential opponents. Bob Huggins’ 2010 West Virginia squad stopped the John Wall/DeMarcus Cousins Wildcats cold with a ruthless, attacking 1-3-1 defense back then, and history has a way of repeati….HAHAHA JK. But, go Mountaineers anyway.

Last year, an eighth-seeded Kentucky squad knocked…guess who?…Wichita State from the ranks of the unbeaten on the way to the finals. STORYLINES! And Notre Dame is the hottest team in the country. Undersized, yes, but their four-out-one-in offense is probably the best recipe to crack Kentucky’s ridiculous defense.

The pick: Calling Kentucky over Notre Dame here.

West: #1 Wisconsin vs. #4 North Carolina, #6 Xavier vs. #2 Arizona

Until today, I didn’t know there was a (decidedly one-sided and petty) beef between Wisconsin and UNC, but hey. My favorite excerpt:

Williams told a throng of national reporters: “Are you going to tell me you don’t like this more than 19-17 at halftime? I’m not a nuclear physicist, but you make the choice. We’re trying to make it a game of basketball skills, not a weight-room contest.”

This was in reference to a 2000 Final Four game in which Wisconsin played, where the halftime score above was correct. The Badgers are still that hateable, playing at the nation’s 346th quickest tempo. They are, as you might expect, a bunch of white guys with bad haircuts, so join me in cheering for UNC. There’s my pitch.

Arizona is still the most dangerous yet unpredictable team in the tourney. All three of their losses came to teams who failed to make it to the final 64 68, and their offense occasionally disappears. If they’re on, though, they’re a match for Kentucky.

The pick: Unfortunately, I have a gut feeling about Xavier (whom I haven’t seen play in YEARS) knocking off ‘Zona. Wisconsin tempos North Carolina to death by not allowing them to get into transition. Wisconsin is the beneficiary and advances, at which point I may actually lean towards supporting Kentucky in the Final Four*.

*- There is a very real, very horrifying chance that both Duke and N.C. State make the Final Four. This is my hell. Go Big Blue, assuming Carolina has been shown the door.

Friday/Sunday Brackets

East Bracket: #8 N.C. State vs. #4 Louisville, #3 Oklahoma vs. #7 Michigan State

The Wolfpack and Spartans, respectively, knocked off #1 Villanova and #2 Virginia in the opening weekend, throwing the East into wide-open chaos. State actually won AT Louisville earlier in the season, but Rick Pitino is the March Mobster (has anyone taken this joke before? Not in those exact words. Fun links anyway. ‘No cuddling on the bathroom floor’ is my new rally cry for UL games).

I know little about Oklahoma, but their Big XII brethren took the GAS in week 1. #3’s Iowa State and Baylor didn’t survive the first four hours of play, #2 Kansas lost to little brother Wichita State, and #5 West Virginia draws Kentucky. Counter that with what I said about Pitino above, take out the mobster part, and demonstrate more success and overachieving in the tourney, and you get Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. Don’t bet against Tom Izzo.

The pick: I choose to believe N.C. State has had its moment and Louisville wins by 8-10 points. And DON’T BET AGAINST TOM IZZO! Sparty beats Louisville, although I honestly didn’t know they were going to qualify for the tournament until I saw them paired with Georgia.

South Bracket: #1 Duke vs. #5 Utah, #2 Gonzaga vs. #11 UCLA

Utah is big, physical, and has athletes at the guard position. Which could beat Duke. Self-delusion over.

Gonzaga/UCLA is a fun matchup, because it means we get to see Adam Morrison crying about 12 times in the minutes leading up to, during, and after the game. The Bobcats drafted him third overall over about 40 guys who had better NBA careers, and I’m still bitter about it.

Let me taste your tears, Scott!”

The pick: Step 5: acceptance. Duke rolls over Utah, rolls over a Gonzaga team that actually reaches the regional final for the first time since 1999, although they’ve been to every tournament since.

 

Kentucky/Wisco, Michigan State/Duke. And I’m free to do something else next weekend.

 

The Untainted, Unresearched, Mostly Uninformed NCAA Tournament Preview


UKAs college basketball falls more and more out of the mainstream consciousness*, it gets harder to motivate oneself to a) follow the sport in the regular season, and b) fill out a bracket with the dedication and research, or in the timely manner, that was once en vogue.

*- A 2010 Gallup poll ranked college basketball the 8th most popular sport among Americans, down from 3rd in 1991. 

Having said that, Kentucky is your undefeated, gargantuan favorite. There are no appointment-watch one-and-done players, such as Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Michael Beasley from years past (DeAngelo Russell at Ohio State is the closest). There are no appointment-watch white guys a la Adam Morrison or the Jimmer.

All we have this year is a lot of parity, which hopefully leads to a lot of close games and a lot of clever “NOW ITS OFFICIALLY MARCH!!!!” comments from the announcers.

Midwest Bracket

Favorite: Since we mentioned Kentucky, why not start here? Kentucky’s roster would be the second-tallest in the NBA, only behind Portland. Forward Karl Anthony Towns is gaining momentum as the #1 pick, twin guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison were ridiculous in last year’s tourney, and its going to take a parade of 3’s and an extreme off night to beat them.

Other contenders: Well, #2 Kansas lost to Kentucky by like, 35 points earlier this season. That’s never good. The cavalcade of 3’s I mentioned that could beat Kentucky? It could come from 3-seed Notre Dame, who spreads the floor with four knockdown shooters.

Sleeper: Going with #7 Wichita State. They were undefeated in the regular season last year, and still have a lot of those players. Insert catchwords like “moxie”, “poise” or “experience” here. And Wichita/Kansas in the second round could be a lot of fun.

Super Dark Horse: #12 Buffalo? They led Kentucky AT Kentucky at the half back in December, which I realize means absolutely nothing. So whatever. Carry on.

Best NBA Talent: The real reason most of the DYC staff is here. I’ve got to go with Towns, or Anthony-Towns, as I’m not sure if the Anthony is part of his first or last name. 6’10, agile, explosive, developing face-up game, Blake Griffin potential without the gaudy college numbers to back it up (because he has talent around him).

West Bracket

Favorite: Logic would dictate I trump the #1 seed Wisconsin here, but (say it with me now) NEVER TRUST THE BIG TEN. Give me Arizona, who has the talent, length, and athleticism to challenge everyone, including the presumptive champs.

Other Contenders: With Wisconsin being one, I don’t trust a slowdown-and-threes team. #4 North Carolina could carry the momentum from a nice ACC Tourney run…or they could bow out in the first round, and neither would surprise me. Quite frankly, not a single other team strikes me as Final Four-quality (which could explain why college basketball is so down).

Sleeper: From the same template as Wichita State, VCU is the 7-seed, has recent success on its side, and has a legitimately terrifying ability to completely bury you. Next best guess? Their first round opponent, Ohio State, who just seemed to sleepwalk through this season and could turn it on.

Super Dark Horse: #14 Georgia State. Seriously. They get an underwhelming 3-seed in Baylor in the first round, and could feasibly take out Xavier or Ole Miss in the round of 32. Why not? Nobody’s reading this far anyway.

Best NBA Talent: A ton of good choices here. Arizona F Stanley Johnson and Ohio State G DeAngelo Russell are one-and-done lottery picks. There are great college talents such as Wisconsin three-balling C Frank Kaminsky, whose name you will hear a ton. I’m going sleeper here though, Arkansas F Bobby Portis, the SEC player of the year. Almost 50% on catch-and-shoot 3’s, 18 points per game in SEC play, and 6’11. And I had never heard of him til last week.

East Bracket

Favorite: All about the V-schools here. I’d take #2 Virginia if Justin Anderson had proven he was healthy, but his complete inability to play offensive basketball in the ACC tournament with his broken pinkie has me steering clear. By default, then, you have #1 Villanova.

Other Contenders: #4 Louisville has Rick Pitino and crazy person Montrezl Harrell, and plays a style that makes everyone uncomfortable (enter Pitino restaurant joke here). I have no reason to believe in #3 Oklahoma as they’re inconsistent. We’ve been beaten over the head with #5 Northern Iowa for me to say there’s no way.

Sleeper: Realistic sleeper candidates include #10 Georgia sorry it’s just not happening; maybe the winner of the 8/9 game between N.C. State and LSU? Both teams have impressive strengths and no glaring weaknesses, and both have enough athleticism to compete with Villanova.

Super Dark Horse: #11 Dayton hasn’t even qualified for the field of 64 yet, but they made a run to the Sweet 16 recently. #14 Albany could spring a first-round upset on Oklahoma.

Best NBA Talent: A little tough to lock down here. Louisville’s Harrell is the only first-rounder according to the wildly inaccurate and speculative NBADraft.net. UVA’s Anderson is a big 2, but as I said he’ll be worthless at least the first weekend, so no help there. Go Harrell and enjoy his antics.

South Bracket

Favorite: $&(@Y@&*#((! Shaping up just like their joke of a run in 2010, Duke arguably drew the biggest lightweights in the #2 (Gonzaga) and #4 (Georgetown) spots. Damnit.

Other Contenders: Gonzaga has never made it to the Elite 8, yet we keep trumpeting them as a true contender. I’m on that wait and see. #3 Iowa State made a nice run last year and *pulls out megaphone* Fred Hoiberg’s team is the most entertaining team in college basketball. Watch them play if you can. I’ll go Iowa State as legit, #5 Utah as a light sleeper.

Sleeper: #9 St. John’s. The Johnnies (I think Steve Lavin is still their coach) gave Duke 32 minutes of a game earlier this year, and could meet them again in the round of 32. With no overwhelming teams in the 4/5 pod, they could play for a shot at the Final Four potentially.

Super Dark Horse: #10 Davidson. They won an A-10 that included VCU and others (don’t ask me to name them without research).

Best NBA Talent: Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow, and Tyus Jones. Okafor is a young Al Jefferson, Winslow is a poor man’s (insert crazy athletic young NBA wing), and Jones is a steady point who could top out as an offensive-minded CP3. F**k Duke.

Final Four

I guess, based on the above, that I have Kentucky/Arizona/Villanova/Duke as favorites to make the Final Four. No way in hell this happens, but in keeping with the format above, those are your best bets.

If this comes to pass, Kentucky/Arizona, in my opinion, is for the title. And Kentucky wins. And demolishes Villanova or Duke.

Let’s hope the parity shines through on the first weekend, because beyond that all we get is TruTV jokes.

Never Underestimate the Internet, Kids: TruTV and the NCAA Tournament Strike Back


“It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.” 

It has further been said that an innocuous tweet from someone with a limited following, upon questioning the existence of TruTV, is the butterfly flutter that sends its fanbase out in droves.

The tweet in question:

Within 90 seconds, Impractical Jokers, a show where I am going to logically assume they pull practical jokes on unsuspecting people. Wikipedia says the following: “(they) coerce one another into doing public pranks while being filmed by hidden cameras. The show differs from other prank television programs in that the stars of Impractical Jokers do not know the details of the prank until the moment they are performing it on strangers. While one cast-member performs the prank, the other three comedians in the troupe are behind the scenes feeding lines to their friend via microphone (with an earpiece). The lines fed to the prankster are meant to create a humorous and awkward exchange between the prankster and the stranger being pranked.”

I GOT GOT! But I will definitely give the program a shot. I feel like I’m obligated now, and I kinda enjoyed Punk’d for maybe two episodes before Ashton Kutcher inevitably annoyed me senseless.

Unfortunately, they also started the hashtag #nodsfromChad, as I am obligated to give curious nods of respect to those who can name a show on TruTV. Embedding this many tweets would cause a carpal-tunnel related loss of productivity at the age of 27, so please accept one mass nod with a LOT of screencaps to follow.

And the chaos that ensued. Sweet heavenly mercy, TruTV people. Well played.

Oh, and since TruTV is part of the media conglomerate that is paying the NCAA $11 BILLION for broadcast rights over the life of their 14-year contract, your daily reminder: #deathtotheNCAA.

Tru1

A colleague using the only choice language on the whole correspondence.

 

 

Tru2

Shy, aka @TruJokerStyle, is the first TruTV loyalist to stand up. Daniel keeps throwing shade.

 

Tru3

SHY. Get at me. Is Greenville, by any chance, about the city in NC, SC, or GA? If so, COUNT ME IN. Impractical Jokers doesn’t realize how fickle the DYC columnists’ followings are, and individualized nods will ruin my following like Hall’s Pretty Little Liars tweets.

 

Tru4

Ja’Crispy Gals Club, you are correct. Shy confirms my suspicions.

 

Tru5

My buddy John chimes in, and then tries to explain to a group text consisting of old friends who don’t use Twitter what is going on. It doesn’t end well.

 

Tru6

NEW FOLLOWER WHAT UP

 

Tru7

After initial publication, I chose to follow @TheVampsHolly_B and @truTVJokers. Don’t let me down.

 

Tru8

And lead it to clever guy @ChuckScalies to bring it full circle.

Carry on and prosper, TruTV. I’ll sleep with one eye open.

 

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