Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Thrilling Rendition of my Maiden Voyage to the Huron Islands

I had heard tall tales of the Huron Islands – 1000 foot jumping cliffs, flea flies, a Princess named Pat, a worm named Herman, a species of rock bass named Ooohh Kaleyla, a mysterious cream colored island of rock, “Dick van Dykema” hot dinner out meals, a strange phenomenon in which camp fires will not burn, and a Weed Monster living in the abandoned lighthouse who many years ago moon-killed campers so badly that no one dares to stay on the island past sunset. But for 24 years, the Huron Islands were only a visual curiosity to me – at least until the summer of 2010.

I was lucky enough to be invited aboard a vessel captained by Abby and Tess English, who were flanked by me, George and Claire Jordan, and their significant others. Much like the departure of the Titanic, crowds of curious and jealous onlookers waved and cheered us goodbye as we floated under the Main Bridge. After a brief SNAFU due to the raging currents, sand, waves of the Mouth, we finally made it out to sea.

Once at sea, we were blessed with calm waters and a strong Northern wind (read: a motor). The pleasant journey to the islands concluded as we arrived at our first destination: the before-mentioned jumping cliffs. Tess anchored us at the edge of the cliff’s shadow, and the jumpers, George, Claire, Tess, and I, ate some chocolate chip cookies to energize our bodies for the climb ahead. The morning’s eggs benedict had already worn off. To the average outdoorsman, scaling this cliff would be much too daunting. But we weren’t average outdoorsman. Under the tutelage of Jan, Brad Potola, Arann Harris, Big Nick, Dennis, and the rest of the Children’s Program, we were well prepared for the challenges ahead. We were silent as we swam like Navy Seals to the shore to begin our ascent. After all, there was no need to say anything. We all had the same phrase running through our minds, “Safety first, last, and always”. Except for George, who was singing “Princess Pat” to himself. At the summit, without a peek over the edge or a moment of hesitation, we leaped into the cold, crystal clear waters below.

Upon our return to the boat, we set sail for our next destination: the rock. With the accuracy of Captain Ron, Abby and Tess successfully anchored our boat and we bounded and skipped our way to the lunch rock. We dined (PB and Bacon, Turtle Rock Sandwiches, Mississippi Mud, Gingersnap Cookies, Huron Mountain blue berries, Loop Road thimble berries, and small cans of orange, grape, and cranberry juice were on the menu), played Marco Polo in the waters below, and chatted the afternoon away. Suddenly we heard voices! And then rustling! Out from the bushes emerged two shirtless men. Could it be? The natives of the Huron Islands?

Instinctively, Claire quickly tore her white lunch slip from her brown food bag and waved it as a sign of peace. One of the men spoke, “Hiya! How ya’ll a’doin’? Eh?” This was a dialect of the English language that I was unfamiliar with. Abby, an expert in tongues, quickly replied, “Oh yah, eh! Howa boot the weather, eh?” She motioned to us that they were friendly natives and they spoke true “yooper”, later explaining that these days there are “suits” from a company called Kennecott, who are trained at their corporate headquarters to dress and speak like yoopers in order to deceive local families and government officials that a controversial Sulfide Mine is necessary. We exchanged pleasantries with our new friends and continued our exploration of the rest of the big island.

At the lighthouse, we encountered exactly what we expected: an abandoned, Weed Monster-less lighthouse. The Weed Monster is rumored to be nocturnal, although during the summer months, children always seem to find it on the banks of Pine River gathering the river’s rich and diverse assortment of seaweeds for winter hibernation. Exhausted and sweaty, we took a water break. Tess picked a blade of grass and let it drift away in the wind. Her face grew concerned. She then measured the angle between the sun and the horizon with her arms to gauge the time. With her arms spread like a ballerina, her face grew more concerned. “Guys! It’s 16:18 right now and the wind is gusting at 8 mph to the Northwest! If we don’t leave within 13 minutes, we won’t have time to dock the boat, clean it out, and get ready for SIPS!” We all exchanged panicked looks.

We scrambled back to the lunch rock, performed a quick (but thorough) leave no traces garbage sweep and boarded the boat. As if Princess Pat blessed us, the wind stopped and we safely made our way back to the Club, in plenty of time to clean up and get our stories straight of what had happened at the islands that day.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fantasy Notes - 1/13

-I'm torn on Baron Davis. On one hand, he dunked last night and has looked like the GSW Baron Davis over the past month, averaging 13-8 and shooting 45% from the field. Davis and the Clips are hot right now, having won 8 of their last 11 with a statement victory against the Heat last night. What concerns me is the Clipper's 11 game road trip coming up in February. Davis is a well known front-runner and when the Clipper's schedule gets tougher, he might not produce as well. And then there's always the injury concern.

-Larry Brown is a PG killer (see Raymond Felton). After Brown left the Bobcats, D.J. Augustin has been filling it up (18-8 w/ a few 3's) under interim head coach Paul Silas, who has implemented an up-tempo offense. These numbers should remain steady, as Augustin's confidence is at an all-time high and is the clear-cut starting PG.

-It's hard to know what to make of Gilbert Arenas. It doesn't look like he's going to be starting anytime soon and is only playing 20 mpg. Considering his salary and talent, it's hard to believe he will be warming the bench forever.... Buy low or drop.

-I'm trying to stay away from every Cavs player, including Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. Cavs are horrible. Either move them now or pray that they're traded IRL. If they remain in Cleveland, I could see a convenient season ending injury on the horizon.

Monday, January 3, 2011

David Lee Out on Monday

David Lee will sit out Monday's game against Orlando with a lower back bruise as Golden State's injury riddled season continues. Their already depleted front line will feature Ekpe Udoh, Dan Gadzuric, and Brandan Wright against DH12 and the Magic. Yikes.

Crash Wallace Injures Ankle

Bobcats F Gerald Wallace suffered a bone bruise in his ankle at practice over the weekend and is expected to miss a few games. Tyrus Thomas is slated to return on Monday against the Heat, and could see big minutes and develop some permanent (don't hold your breath) fantasy value with Wallace being injured. Gerald Henderson is expected to start in place of Wallace, but I would expect that Augustin, S-Jax, Ty Thomas, Diaw, and Mohammad get the majority of playing time.

Caron Butler Injury

Caron Butler suffered a potentially serious knee injury this past weekend, that, if Dirk remains sidelined with a bad kneed, could send the Mavs into a further tailspin. With Butler out, the following players could see a boost in fantasy value:

Shawn Marion - Marion can slide over and play the 3 while Butler is sidelined. While he probably won't relive his fantasy glory days of the mid 2000's, he will be a strong contributor in blocks, steals, and rebounds if given more playing time.

DeShawn Stevenson - DeShawn has been starting at SG for the Mavs but only plays 15 minutes a game. Against the Cavs yesterday, he played 33 minutes and put up 21-3-4 with 5 3's. We'll see how the Mavs rotation plays out in the next few weeks, but Stevenson could be shooting a lot of 3's.

Dominique Jones - Jones was recalled from the D-League right after Butler went down. and should see a solid amount of playing time. He played 21 minutes last night and was able to take 10 shots. While there won't be as many shots for Marion, Stevenson, and Jones when Dirk comes back, all 3 should see an uptick in fantasy value.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Camby Man Can - How Donald Sterling changed the West.

Who would have thought that one of Donald Sterling’s personal moves would affect the hierarchy in the West? Last year, when the Clippers were looking to trade veteran center Marcus Camby because of the emergence of DeAndre Jordan and Camby's impending free agency, there were two teams in the West that desperately needed a veteran big man: the Portland Trailblazers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Portland had lost Greg Oden to another season ending injury and needed a better option behind Joel Pryzbilla other than undersized Jeff Pendergraph. The Thunder, who were last year’s biggest surprise in the NBA, needed a shot blocker that could help protect the paint. Nenad Kristic is a soft big man who prefers to play on the perimeter and Serge Ibaka was not ready for big time minutes in clutch time (ex. not blocking out Pau Gasol in game six of the playoffs against the Lakers).

When I heard that Camby was on the block I thought the Thunder, who were well under the salary cap, would swoop him up for a draft pick (they have quite an arsenal of them) and a mid-level player to round out their roster for the playoffs. Camby also could have been a mentor for young big man Serge Ibaka as he did with DeAndre Jordan.

In the end, Blazers' then-GM Kevin Pritchard made a bold move and acquired Camby and extended his contract. Camby is a perfect fit in Portland - he is a savvy veteran who doesn’t need the ball to be effective, is great rebounder, screener, and awesome teammate.

If OKC would have traded for Camby (they had more assets), they would have finished higher in the standings and avoided the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. This season, the Thunder are considered an elite team and are expected to make a lot of noise in the playoffs -- without ever having won a playoff series. When, or if, Oden comes back, Portland will have three quality bigs to match up with the Lakers size. Oklahoma City won't.

The Blazers and the Thunder are two of the top teams vying for the 2 seed in the West and Camby's presence could be the difference in playing the Lakers in the second round or the conference finals. Meanwhile, Donald Sterling’s Clippers are unlikely to make the playoffs for the 5th consecutive year, but he has dramatically affected the race for the Championship.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Fantasy Notes 11/1

  • Chris Bosh is averaging 13 points on 10 shots and 7 rebounds through 4 games. LeBron is averaging 20 points on 14 shots and Wade is averaging 21 points on 16 shots per game. If the first week is any indication, it appears the "Superfriends" will not put up the gaudy numbers their fantasy draft positions suggest.
  • Wilson Chandler has put up huge numbers in the first 3 games -- 21 and 10 with blocks, steals, and 3's to boot. Danilo Gallinari, on the other hand, is struggling, averaging only 6 points and 3 rebounds in 20 minutes. When Anthony Randolph returns he will bite into Chandler and Gallinari's playing time. Now is the time to buy low on Gallinari and sell high on Chandler, as I would expect them to be averaging 15 points after the next 15 games.
  • D.J. Augustin has no competition for minutes in Charlotte, and should continue to average 15 and 5 with a few 3's.
  • Dorell Wright is benefiting from Golden State's style of play and should be owned in all leagues. He is taking seven 3's a game, and there is no end in sight.
  • Zach Randolph hurt his back. Darrell Arthur is a nice pickup until Z-Bo returns.
  • Gilbert Arenas has yet to play a game for the Wizards, and appears to be a fantasy headache all season. Buy low at your own risk.
  • Blake Griffin has looked really good in his first few games, but with his style of play it looks like an injury is inevitable. Sell high (maybe for Bosh?).
  • Kevin Love is only playing 25 minutes per game but is still averaging a double double. I would expect him to play over 30 minutes eventually and put up huge numbers, especially with reports of Darko Milicic heading to the bench.
  • Antawn Jamison has the potential to be a huge bust. He's coming off the bench and is already injured.
  • Greg Oden and Yao aren't worth owning. Yao isn't going to play back to backs, and even when he does play, won't see many minutes. There is no timetable on Oden's return. Nuff' said. See if Serge Ibaka or Andris Biedrins are available on waivers.

I'm always happy to dish out trade advice. Post in the comments section and I'll get back to you!