The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best fantasy baseball team in the league, bar none. According to ESPN’s fantasy player valuation, Don Mattingly’s roster includes 11 of the 300 best players in the game. Having Clayton Kershaw, No. 10 overall, Hanley Ramirez, 13, and Yasiel Puig, 28, certainly helps. So if you’re playing serious fantasy this season, chances are you’ll be staying up late to watch the west coast games. Added bonus, of course: Vin Scully.
ESPN’s list of the top 300 fantasy players includes a ranking carried over from the 2013 season along with estimated values for each player in an auction-format draft with 10 teams. They assume a 25-man team with a budget of $260. Both of these figure on using ESPN’s preferred scoring and configuration, but the valuation is general enough to be useful.
For the Dodgers, this system values Kershaw, the twice and future Cy Young winner, at $28, by far the most for any pitcher in the league. Not surprisingly Mike Trout of Anaheim is the No. 1 overall player, a bargain at $45, followed by Miguel Cabrera, $43, and Andrew McCutchen, $38.
The Rangers are second in total value. This makes perfect sense: they have Russell Wilson. On the big league club, non-Super Bowl winning division, Adrian Beltre is the most valuable fantasy piece at $27, 11th overall.
The table below shows the total value accreted by the top 300 players in ESPN’s rankings. The third column is an average of the 2013 rankings for just these players, and on the right is a count of how many top 300 fantasy players are associated with those teams.
Despite a real-world payroll exceeding $200 million, the 27x world champs do not crack the top 10 in terms of fantasy value. They are behind the Devil Rays. Only Jacoby Ellsbury’s $33 value keeps the Yankees from sliding to the dark regions inhabited by the Astros and Padres. (If you take away Ellsbury, the Yankees’ highest value player is $12 Carlos Beltran. Houston’s best player, per this, is $12 Jose Altuve, while San Diego boasts just $10 Everth Cabrera and $10 Will Venable, who went to Princeton. Good luck selling tickets to that.)
Here’s where the Yankees fantasy stars rank (value, 2013 ranking):
Given what you know today about smoking, would you still do it? Of course not. It kills you. There’s a high probability you end up with some horrible lung cancer or no teeth, etc. All bad options. The warning signs are clearly out there. And yet, 16% of Americans still do smoke. There are, after all, morons in every crowd.
The same is true about the popular fake money Bitcoin. It’s been painfully obvious that Bitcoin and its ilk are just Ponzi schemes: you give them money, they give you something else approximating money, the value of which is controlled by some secretive market somewhere.
Today comes news that the largest “exchange” for Bitcoins, Mt. Gox, a website most likely run out of some guy’s basement, has lost millions of dollars “worth” of these things. (More of those words should probably be in quotes.)
According to the Times, Mt. Gox at one time was responsible for 4/5 of worldwide trading in Bitcoin. Today the head of the operation filed for bankruptcy in Japan after apparently having 750,000 of these “coins” stolen by hackers. At current rates, that amounts to $450 million in human currency. Good luck with all that.
In case you didn’t know, Bitcoins are made up. They are not based on anything in the physical world, and no government or regulatory agency vouches for their validity. One acquires these units by either “mining” them, which is nerd-speak for running some computer program to solve for some algorithm, or by exchanging real money for them. A year ago one was worth about $5, and that value shot up to over $1,000 toward the end of 2013 and has since slumped to $600. That is if you can find a sucker willing to buy these from you. Finally, it is important to point out early supporters of this scheme included Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who you may remember had some degree of involvement in and very little proceeds from the founding of The Facebook. So yeah, this fake nerd money definitely sounds like a legitimate way to store your wealth! Next to that, dollars and euros are like conducting commerce with beaver pelts!
Earlier this week, a currency analyst at Citi, Steven Englander, told the Journal what most people already knew: this was a scam.
“This is the latest and biggest in a series of losses to Bitcoin holders that can be viewed as related to fraud or poor security. Moreover, the risk seems to have been known for years without the Bitcoin developers instituting a complete fix. So one question is whether the decentralized structure, which is the attraction to many, makes it too cumbersome to enact essential fixes.”
In other words, you’re going to get a little fraud, that’s just part of the deal. He went on:
“Bitcoin’s market cap on paper by far exceeds that of the competition, but the ability to translate Bitcoin wealth to wealth in other forms is very limited. There are many Bitcoin holders heavily invested in Bitcoin’s success and it has a first mover advantage. However as a store of value, its only value is reputational, and recent developments have shaken that reputation.”
So look, if you want to piss away your money, Bitcoin is totally the way you want to piss it away. But remember, you’re trusting some guy in basement to make sure all of this actually works.
Say what you will about JPMorgan, Citi or BofA, but one thing is for certain: if you put your money in an account there, you’re getting it back. Sure, Jamie Dimon was never an Olympic rower like the Winklevoss twins were, but he also wouldn’t have been dumb enough to give away the idea for Harvard Connection to some punk in a hoodie. And Dimon doesn’t lose his or your money in some fakakta scheme.
Oh those wacky Dutch. Fresh of winning gobs of gold medals in speed skating, The Netherlands is really riding high over in C04N. Chestiest of the bunch is skating coach Jillert Anema, who declared loudly on CNBC this morning that America is lousy because they are narrow-minded and focus too much on sports like football. Here’s how the Squawk Box crew reacted.
Speaking of narrow-minded, 21 of Holland’s 22 medals are in speed skating, while the other is in … short track speed skating!
Unfortunately this clip misses the great setup to the piece in which host Joe Kernan admonished the Dutch coach for suggesting that skating is popular. “Yeah, we’ll just have Monday Night Speed Skating and Sunday Night Speed Skating and speed skating on TV all day Sunday and then college Speed Skating. Absolutely! People will love it!”
How awesome are these Canadian curling fans? Here’s a jolly bunch celebrating the men’s team’s 10-6 drubbing of China in the semifinals today in C04N.
Where are the fans of Team USA? Someplace hanging their heads in shame, that’s where. The United States men finished 9th out of 10 teams, while the women’s squad was DFL for the second straight Olympics. Here’ s a question: how much money would it take to get Brad Jacobs, the Canadian skip, to be a ringer for Team USA in Korea? Surely some generous American like T. Boone Pickens would put up the cash in the nation’s interest. Of if that doesn’t work, maybe he could just spend a few weekends teaching John Shuster how the game is actually played. Just a thought.
It’s about time President Obama got serious about the most important foreign affairs situation developing right now in Russia. No, it’s not anything Putin may or may not be doing vis-à-vis Iran. This situation, of course, is the embarrassing state of U.S. curling at the Сочи Olympics.
Consider some of these things that have happened since curling competition began Monday:
The U.S. women’s team has played four times and has lost all four.
The women allowed an Olympic record 7 points in one end in a 12-3 blowout to Britain. You may be thinking, but they only get 8 rocks per end, how is it even possible for a team to score 7? Good question!
In that same game, Team USA surrendered after curling only 6 of the regulation 10 ends. Sure, that may be the sporting thing to do since there’s essentially no way you come back there, but come on, this is the Olympics! You’re not playing the Duluth Curling Club here! This thing happens once every four years!
The U.S. men also have a surrender on their 1-3 record for the Games. The lone win came against Denmark.
That surrender by the men, 9-5, was to China, which until 2005 didn’t even have a curling facility in the country!
As it stands now, Team USA men and women are headed for their second consecutive Olympic Games finishing DFL in curling, America’s most popular broom-related winter sport. U.S. teams were a combined 4-14 last time out in Vancouver.
The men’s squad still hasn’t played Canada or Sweden yet. The Canucks are both curling’s gold standard and the defending gold medalists from Vancouver, while the Swedes have put on perhaps the most impressive display of shot-making so far in C04N. The women, meanwhile, still have tilts with Canada, Sweden and the feisty Danes, who are hungry for their first win. Yikes!
The question now for the USOC is what to do with this sorry situation. It’s become clear, despite what the apologists commenting on NBC have to say, that U.S. skip John Shuster is in far over his head. He very well might be a nice fellow from the nether-regions of Minnesota, but Shuster has an uncanny knack for gagging in the Olympics worse than Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.
And whatever the hell it is that coach Tim Muller does, it isn’t working. As Bill Parcells would note, “this is a results oriented business.” The results for Team USA are terrible. Plus, it appears the women are being coached by Piers Morgan:
You may recall that back in the 90s George Steinbrenner was brought on to the USOC to combat years of poor performance. Imagine if he were in C04N watching this display of ineptitude. Changes would be made, that’s for sure. If you can fire Billy Martin five times, you can certainly shake up a moribund curling operation.
It’s time for changes top-to-bottom in America’s curling apparatus. China figured this out years ago and hired a Canadian, Marcel Rocque, to coach their teams. Where are they now? The men are undefeated heading into a pivotal showdown with Sweden tomorrow and the women are still in medal contention at 2-2. That’s five more wins in total than the United States has right now. And again, they didn’t have curling at all 10 years ago!
Americans cannot stand for another national curling nightmare at the 2018 Olympics. Get these schlemiels out and get some people in there who can compete. Chances are, four guys off the street in Edmonton could curl better.
The world’s foremost gambling weekend has arrived. That’s the Super Bowl, of course. You know, “the big game” for all those folks who don’t have official sponsorship rights. X-L-V-I-I-I, the last vestige of Roman numeral usage in America. Black Sunday for the chicken wing industry.
And there are so many great wagers you can make. Sadly none of them involve whether or not Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will display human emotion at any point during the game. (Obviously these odds are -4500 NO, and the sportsbooks are smart enough to know not to take action on something that has been mechanically engineered.) Here are some of the best props you can actually bet today:
Total rushing yards on first attempt – Russell Wilson (Seattle)
Over 5 ½ -115
Under 5 ½ -115
You definitely want under here. Wilson is known to scramble attempting to create passing opportunities down the field. He is far more likely to be sacked or gain minimal yardage than he is to run for SIX or more yards. To further specify this as the FIRST run play of the game? Easy money here.
O/U Longest reception (Seattle receivers/tight ends; all bets are -115)
Golden Tate 19 ½
Doug Baldwin 20 ½
Zach Miller 12 ½
Percy Harvin 20 ½
First of all, what is it these guys see about Golden Tate to warrant a line a yard less than the other two primary receivers? Is it the fact that he wore Google Glass to Media Day? Or that he broke into a doughnut shop on his first trip to Seattle? Either way, the bet you want here is under on Zach Miller. Wilson generally goes to the tight end only in short yardage situations, so 12 ½ is very aggressive. Besides, everyone knows the Hawks’ big-play TE is Canadian Luke Willson, with two Ls.
Total interceptions – Peyton Manning (Denver)
3 or more +700
Would America’s Quarterback really throw three picks in the biggest game of the year? Probably not, but wow, +700. Take it. His little brother, who leads in all-time Super Bowl wins, threw FIVE INTs against this same team in this same building two months ago. Come on, it’s +700!
Total passing yards – Peyton Manning -80 ½ Russell Wilson
This aligns with the totals for both QBs in the game: Manning at 290 and Wilson at 210. Denver’s defense is the weakest crew Seattle has faced since early December. That’s a big enough spread to be enticing. Go with the short guy.
Who will have more receptions in the game
Andre Caldwell (Denver) + ½
Jermaine Kearse (Seattle) - ½
Have you ever heard of these guys? No? Flip a coin.
Parlay opportunity: How many times will Archie Manning be shown on TV during the game
Over 1 ½ -165
Under 1 ½ +125
How many times will Eli Manning be shown on TV during the game
Over 1 ½ -200
Under 1 ½ +150
Wager is for live shots only and excludes halftime. Think about it. They’re going to be in the same box. This game is on Fox. You are going to see the Manning family no fewer than five times in this game. Package these together and take it to the bank.
Will the announcers refer to Russell Wilson being drafted in MLB
Pay careful attention to the conditions on this bet: live pictures only, excludes taped pieces and halftime, and the broadcasters “must clearly refer to it,” subject to book manager’s decision. Still, this will absolutely be discussed.
Will Michael Crabtree mention Richard Sherman in a tweet during the Super Bowl from kickoff until the final whistle
Let’s say you’re Mediocre Receiver Michael Crabtree. You’re not doing anything this weekend, obviously. Do America a favor and go to Vegas, put down some cash on this, and let the people know what you really think of the best corner in the game. Also, how great it is that thousands of degenerate gamblers will suddenly be following @KingCrab15 on Twitter!
Will Knowshon Moreno cry during the singing of the National Anthem
Amazingly this is the only crying prop on the board, and the terms are specific: must happen between start to finish of the anthem and be clearly shown on TV that he is crying. Of course the book manager’s decision is final. How great is it that the outcome of thousands of dollars in wagers come down to whether one guy watching on TV thinks another guy is crying during a two minute song. God bless America.
What will the TV rating be for the Super Bowl
Over 47 ½ -140
Under 47 ½ Even
Usually you do not want to bet against growth in this audience, especially with America’s QB in the game. But that number is a touch too high. Recall that the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl, featuring massive market teams and Tom Brady averaged 47.8. This one may not get there.
Parlay opportunity: Which will be higher
Gold medals by the USA in the 2014 Sochi Olympics +120
First half total points by the Broncos -150
Gold medals by Canada in the 2014 Sochi Olympics +145
First half total points by the Seahawks -175
Last Olympics, America came back with 9 golds (but cleaned up in the bronzes for a league-leading 37 total medals) while Canada tallied 14. Remember, hockey only counts for one, and Canada will not have home ice advantage in the land of Putin. Take the Seahawks and America. Everyone’s a winner!
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted this week on the company’s earnings call that nearly all of the teams in the NFL use iPads on the sidelines. Well, Pete, there’s one team from the Pacific Northwest, that may be owned by a certain Microsoft co-founder, that is using the Surface. It has Windows! And Office! And works great with team sponsor Bing! (Obviously the software that operates QB Russell Wilson is not designed for iOS.)
The New York Super Bowl Host Committee is encouraging fans to visit several local attractions while in town for the game. Some are obvious: Times Square, Ellis Island, Yankee Stadium. Among them — this is 100% true — is the Vince Lombardi Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike. (Visit the site and see for yourself.) Now you may be thinking, “Sure, that rest stop is fine and all, but Molly Pitcher has a Roy Rogers.” Indeed. But if you just paid thousands of dollars to fly in from Denver to experience New York for the Super Bowl, why is the city suggesting you visit a place that exists primarily for people to get gas without having to pay an additional toll?
It is now 2014. Time to move on from the handlebar mustache.
The Grammys have 82 categories. That does not include the Latin Grammys. This is far too many; it’s not the People’s Choice Awards. If you were wondering, the record for Grammys in one year is eight, held by Michael Jackson and Santana. Look, no one is winning eight Oscars in one night. Clearly this is the weak link in the EGOT chain.
What’s the deal with arenas and venues banning umbrellas? This makes no sense at all. Yankee Stadium used to forbid umbrellas back in the “no bags for men” days. And there is some degree of logic in an outdoor stadium — the people sitting behind you would rather see the game than the top of your umbrella. (Fortunately the 27x world champs have reconsidered both umbrellas and bags for the gents.) But there is no reason for this indoors, say at Prudential Center. The NFL’s Super Bowl Media Day event is supposed an umbrella-free zone, officials warn. Seriously, what are people supposed to do if it’s raining on the way to the venue? Sorry, Vito, just get wet? You are going to be indoors. You fold up the umbrella and place it under your seat. What is the harm in that? Common sense needs to be deployed here.
Butler being in the Big East is starting to look like a bad idea. Should have known this going in; they’re not Catholic enough.
If you’re going to charge $11 for a salad, the least you could do is furnish a decent fork with which to eat it. Same goes for soup. If you’re putting out bins of flimsy, narrow, children’s-size spoons with a $9 bowl of soup, you’re screwing people and you know it.
A recent item in the Times business section about Apple’s iPhone sales in China featured this paragraph:
But recently, foreign brands have been subjected to intense scrutiny by the Chinese news media, especially the state-run CCTV, prompting consumers to reconsider domestic alternatives. In one recent example, Walmart recalled donkey meat that it was selling at several outlets in China after it was found to have been tainted with fox meat.
So keep this in mind if you’re planning to do business in China: donkey meat = fine, fox meat = a bridge too far.
The only real differentiating factor when it comes to light beer is, of course, packaging. Just think of all the innovations the major brands have introduced: the “vortex” bottle, the can with the punch top, that label that demarcates “cold” and then “super cold” temperature while only giving off minimal radiation. And now, meet the Bud Light screw-top can:
Just think about the convenience! Let’s say you’re sipping that Bud Light while tailgaiting before the game, but you just can’t finish it. Screw on that top and save it for later! Because it will definitely still be good in a few hours. Also, give them credit for including an action device on this web ad, but do they really need to show you where you can buy Bud Light? It’s the best-selling beer in America! Unless you’re in Pennsylvania, just go to a gas station or a grocery store! They will have Bud Light!
The market has spoken and the unicycle has lost. Sorry, Brooklyn.
Several large media sites, such as the Times, Grantland and others, have recently redesigned their websites. It’s clear, given how poorly these new sites function, that they were designed with tablet users in mind. Either that, or they think the average user just has terrible eyesight. The new trend is to make type extremely large and to format pages for vertical layouts. While it’s smart to eliminate drop-down menus — these are a pain to use on a touch interface — other changes make desktop reading difficult and irritating. The majority of traffic to these sites is still from desktop users. New sites are still too large for phones, the number two traffic source, so they often have a mobile version for this anyway. So why is it OK to have your primary brand not render correctly for the majority of users?
Last night’s NFC championship game has plenty of takeaways:
TV networks still haven’t figured out what to do when a player sustains a horrific leg injury. Fox’s replay of Navorro Bowman’s interception/leg breaking wasn’t as bad as CBS showing Kevin Ware’s leg actually snap in half in the NCAA tournament last March. But the guys in the truck have to do a better job of warning the viewer that this tough to watch.
Hey, America, you got to see a game that will soon be the genesis of a rule change!
The Bowman play wasn’t the only problem for the director. Someone at Fox made the call to cut away to the 2-minute warning before the actual 2-minute warning! The clock had 2:01, and San Francisco was facing 4th and 2 with essentially the game on the line. Fox showed 45 seconds of ads, panic ensued, and they nearly missed showing the 4th down play. It’s OK, fellas, only 50 million people watching this.
San Francisco didn’t quite get Bill Leavy-ed in the game, but it was close.
The best thing about Seattle winning, of course, is that you don’t have to hear more about Jim Harbaugh’s khaki pants. Although…
Did you know Russell Wilson is short? And was picked after a punter in the third round of the draft? It’s entirely possible these things may be forgotten in the buildup to the Super Bowl.
How does Pete Carroll not have a chewing gum endorsement?
Surely Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka is planning a kick-ass Super Bowl party at the Middlebury College alumni club of New York.
And of course last night re-enforced something you already knew about the starting quarterbacks:
1) The human operators that dress Cyborg Russell Wilson know what they’re doing.
2) Colin Kaepernick is angling for a part in the remake of Saturday Night Fever.
If you were scoring at home, five of the seven biggest plays for the Seahawks were made by former players from the Conference of Champions: Marshawn Lynch (Cal) touchdown; Jermaine Kearse (UW) touchdown; Doug Baldwin (Stanford) 51-yard catch and 69-yard kickoff return; Richard Sherman (Stanford) tip to Malcolm Smith (USC) for the game-winning interception. (Kam Chancellor (Virginia Tech) and Michael Bennett (Texas A&M) made the other critical plays.) Pete Carroll is on to something taking the best available Pac-10 guys.
It’s been a while since the last major election, so most of the ads you see on television today are not overly patriotic in nature. The only time an advertiser really turns on the love for the US of A is during Meet the Press when Exxon or Citi like to remind you that they are job creators, damn it. And then there’s this gem, which began recent rotation on ESPNU, where the airtime is cheap and plentiful.
This one really ticks a lot of symbolic boxes right out of the gate. It screams incumbent candidate for the ninth district of Ohio. The only thing missing is the opening tagline: “I’m Mary O’Connell and I approve this message…” Here’s how it begins:
Farmer: “America stands for independence.”
Elderly woman: “America stands for freedom.”
Woman: “For opportunity.”
Man on porch: “And perseverance.”
Voiceover: “Most of all, America stands for its people!”
What are these people possibly selling? Life insurance? A timeshare? Farm equipment? A Chrysler? Industrial chemicals? No, none of these. Watch the ad and see for yourself:
About halfway through you’re probably wondering, “this is a joke, right?” It is not. This is a real product from a real company called HurryCane, based in Minneapolis. (Actual slogan: “The all-terrain cane.” Sure, that rhymes and all, but if the customer has trouble walking, what is he doing walking off road???)
Voiceover: “Americans deserve a cane that stands up for them too!”
Amen, brother! And this isn’t just any old cane, either. According to the marketing copy, it’s 20% lighter and 40% stronger than something. Don’t forget “superior grip and control!” And “it folds up, and flips out when you need it!”
What they don’t tell you in the ad is how much this thing actually costs. A quick visit to hurrycane.com* will tell you The Freedom Edition™ cane is only $39.95! Plus, if you order now, you get a free wrist strap, free travel bag, free travel clips AND free shipping!
But wait, doesn’t that seem like a lot for a cane? Turns out you can get a comparable folding model at Walgreens for $29.99, or a standard cane for as little as $17. But whatever, Medicare is paying for it anyway.
Also, you should note that even though the product is occasionally depicted in the ad as a mast for a miniature American flag, a flag is not included with this cane.
*Not only can you order online, but you also have the convenience of ordering your cane by mail. Simply print out this form and mail it along with a check or money order, and your cane will be on its way in 2-4 weeks. You can even get a special deal on replacement gripping feet.
Dante’s father has only been the mayor for seven days and the city is already pretty much a hellhole. Going outdoors at any point today would surely confirm this.
The highest recorded temperature in today Central Park was 10 degrees. Ten! Such nonsense is usually reserved for Canada, where they would scoff at -12.2 in metric degrees as balmy. (Today’s high in Regina was -26.) But here in America, cold like this brings out extreme reactions: at least 8-in-10 people under 35 has Instagramed the weather reading on their phones; and every person over 60 has begun hastily packing for Florida.
Say what you will about Mike Bloomberg, but the man was mayor for 12 years* and the coldest daily high temperature observed on his watch was 15 degrees. That happened twice: February 16, 2003 and January 10, 2004 according to the good people at NOAA, who, for reasons unknown, keep this data in centigrade. (That’s -9.4 if you’re scoring at home.)
Now, in fairness to de Blasio, the day’s low of 4 degrees, recorded at 9:39 a.m., was still warmer than the absolute coldest readings of the Bloomberg years. The NOAA measured just 1 degree on January 10 & 16, 2004. But those were both overnight temps, not what people experienced in the streets while they were noting that their trash still has not been collected in Carnegie Hill. The high on that second day was actually 24.
Don’t say the Joe Lhota people didn’t try to warn you…
*Assorted fun facts about the weather during the Bloomberg years: The average daily high was 62.8; low was 48.6. On 72 of 4,381 days (1.64%) the high temp was freezing or below. Only twice did the daily high exceed 100: July 22-23, 2011.
Bloomberg aside, the all-time NYC low was -15, back in 1934. The most recent day with a below-zero reading was -2 on Jan. 19, 1994. Now you know.