Fantasy Friday

March 30th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Don’t Reach

Last season Jason Campbell, the serviceable if less than spectacular starting Quarterback of the Oakland Raiders went down with a broken collarbone in their week 6 win over Cleveland. Their record at the time of injury was 4-2. That week coach Hue Jackson spearheaded a deal with Cincinnati to acquire the rights to QB Carson Palmer. The trade involved a first rounder this year and a conditional 1st or 2nd rounder in the 2013 NFL Draft. Mike Brown, the owner and GM of Cincy famously declared that he would not trade Palmer: Palmer had signed a contract, and he wasn’t going to reward him for reneging, and so on. Everyone has a price, I guess. And for Brown, the price Hue was willing to pay was it.

With the trade, Hue Jackson mortgaged the future for the present. In effect saying, “With the right QB, we have a team capable of making a deep run.” In the press conference, he referred to the polarizing, late owner of the Raiders. “This is a trade Al Davis would have loved.” That week released from his self-imposed exile, Palmer ran onto the field at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum for the second half of their inner divisional contest vs KC, and promptly threw three picks in a 28-0 beat down. They went 4-6 the rest of the way, missing the playoffs in the worst division in the AFC.

2 first rounders for Palmer who’d had a miserable previous season in Cincy? Hue reached; he overpaid. And for that crime and other misdemeanors, Hue was fired. This week I’ve heard people say that Peyton Manning could go as high as 2nd or 3rd round in fantasy drafts. 2nd, 3rd round? Man, the hype machine is on full blast. Suffice it to say, in our draft last season Manning went in the 3rd. Remember, that’s before the third or fourth neck surgery and in the comfort of Indy – before sitting out an entire season. Don’t do like Hue; don’t reach.

Jammed at the Gate

March 28th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Years after my Dad died, my Mom told us about a conversation they had in his hospital room. He said, “If I could live to see our younger son married, I could die happily that night.” He assumed my older brother would marry first. The story struck us as odd. The statement far as I knew was out of character. My Father was a lot of things; a sentimental man, he was not. We did not celebrate holidays. There were no anniversary dates – hell, there were no dates, period. A tough childhood memory for me is on my ninth birthday, I ran up to my Dad as he got home from work. I saw him coming up the steps from the garage. I ran along the side of the apartment building to cut him off as he got to the side gate. “Dad, guess what day this is?” He grunted something that indicated he didn’t know. I withdrew to the safety of silence. He walked in. I still wonder if he really knew and jammed me on purpose.

So, what gives? Why the sentimentality? There’s another story my Mom tells of a train ride. My Father kept getting up every few minutes, heading for the back of the train. My Mom got up to see what he was doing, and caught him adjusting a handkerchief he’d hung against the window along our seats to shield his two sleeping boys from the afternoon sun. There must be something that happens when a man is in the presence of his children. Something bad, something scary that makes him want to withhold that thing – that warm thing he really wants to extend.

You know what I think? I think the living long enough to see my sons married was really my Father. The guy who adjusted the handkerchief. And I knew it! I knew it. He jammed me at that side gate.

Hee Hee, Ho Ho

March 26th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

We did what responsible, expectant parents do. We signed up for Lamaze class. Nothing makes you feel more clueless than entering into the whole parenthood process. It’s all new, and it’s all so important. There’s this great scene in Raising Arizona in which … well, you can see it for yourself.

Do you see HI (Nicholas Cage’s character)? Do you see how dazed, out of sorts he looks? Do you see Ed’s (Holly Hunter) panic and guilt? Those are feelings with which you grow familiar in those early stages of parenthood. I walked into Lamaze class with some of those feelings, wearing an uncertain, docile grin. There was an assertive, heavy boned nurse lady or at least I assume she was a nurse, and there was no mistaking – she was running the show. Words like “uterus” and “vaginal” this or that were being thrown around, and we were on the floor, holding, rubbing … man, I was out of my element. Looking around at the other dads; none of us looked right.

My wife did not have your typical labor experience. They had to break her water, and hop her up on Pitocin before the real labor kicked in. When it did, I was ready. The weeks of Lamaze training summoned to the forefront of my mind. I stood in an athletic position, bedside. Made eye contact. Hee, Hee, Ho..Ho…Wheeeeeew. Hee, Hee, Ho..Ho…Wheeeeeeew. I “Ho, Ho’d” and “Hee, Hee’d” for hours. Eight hours into an unrelentingly steady contraction regiment and my wife was 1 cm dilated. “One centimeter! How can that be?”

Seeing us deflated, the nurse asked my wife if she’d be interested in some drugs. I jumped in and told her that we were not, and that we were really interested in trying to do this naturally. That’s when the nurse looked at me with a look that said, “Um, are you the one about to push an 8 lbs baby into the world from between your legs?” She composed herself, and appealed for me to defer to my wife. It was the most sensible appeal I’d ever heard. Then she proceeded to help us understand that my wife would not be choosing something “lesser” by getting some badly needed help.

Even Lamaze has an agenda. It’s not a bad agenda: “Natural is better.” Some truth there. And it can be helpful, so long as it’s left in its proper place. But like many other things, it can spawn a strange achievement, class struggle. The Natural and the Drugged. It can put unnecessary pressure on a mother doing something unbelievably heroic – drugs or no drugs. If I could, I would tell my younger self, “Don’t add to the pressure she may have already heaped on herself.” With our second and third, we were ready to order straight away.

“Yes, thanks. She’d like to start with some of those great narcotic stuff we had last time we were here. And then, of course, she’ll have the epidural. Can we have them come out together?”
“No, I don’t think she’s quite ready yet for the epidural.”
“Oh, okay, yeah, that’s fine. Then just bring out the other stuff, and we’ll go with the epidural later. Thanks.”

Fantasy Friday

March 23rd, 2012 § Leave a Comment

One Man’s Trash

When you go 2-14, the demolition specialists get called out. Jim Irsay, the owner and president of the Indianapolis Colts put in that call, I’d say right around week 13. Now, a structure as large as a NFL franchise, require something a bit more … um, explosive than a wrecking ball. So, when Indy dropped its last game, securing the number one overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, guys rolled up to Lucas Oil with truck loads of dynamite. The place was packed and wired. Irsay triggered the detonator, and the whole thing went up in spectacular fashion. Right at the epicenter of the blast was Bill Polian and his boy, Chris. Standing next to them was head coach Jim Caldwell. And the blast kept radiating out all the way to the face of the Franchise, Peyton Manning.

The dust is starting to settle. Oh, there was some collateral damage. They’re trying to mend fences in SF. The blast sent Tim Tebow flying all the way to New York, landing with a thud right on Mark Sanchez’ front lawn. Won’t know for years how much damage that’s done? The blast was felt from Coast to Coast. Wave away the smoke, and you can just start to see him: Peyton Manning in Orange and Blue. A Bronco.

What do they say? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Yeah, that is what they say. And as a fantasy owner, Irsay’s trash can be a late mid-round treasure. It is a Quarterback driven league. True. This means two things: 1. You need a good quarterback and 2. It is the most predictable position in the league. Like to say more about that in another week. For now, here’s my bent: In our league’s fantasy draft, I like taking a risk at the QB position. No question, Manning is risky. He’s on the wrong side of Health, Age, and System. But another, lesser known, but no less true saying goes something like this: “It’s all about the money, ain’t a damn thing funny.” Last I heard, Denver is ready to part with a big chunk of what it’s all about to secure Manning’s services. Follow the money, man. You get to the bottom of things in a quick hurry. And the bottom is: The guy whispering into the ear of the guy signing that 90+ million dollar check, safe to assume that guy knows more about Quarterbacks than you and me.

Manning in the 7th as a possible starting QB. I plan to take a hard look.

Chromosome and Shoes

March 21st, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I’m Korean American. Born in Seoul; apart from the first eight years, raised in California. I married a woman who was born in Louisville, Kentucky to parents representing a broad swath of peoples of Western Europe. Our family is a blending of ethnicities and cultures. On any given evening, you’ll find forks and knives on a set dining table. On the next, you’re likely to see spoons and chopsticks. Our dog lives in the house – lives pretty large, I might add. And we remove our shoes at the door. When we have a good sized group over, the entry looks like a clearance table at a shoe outlet store.

When our second, the oldest of our two girls was about two years old, she began a strange, ritual migration. Whenever the entry was filled with shoes, they – the shoes, ladies shoes specifically, and I swear she knew the difference – would pull her toward them. Without ever being encouraged to do so, she began trying ’em on. She’d put a pair on and drag them around a few steps, put them back, and try on another. After dragging another oversized pair for awhile, she’d go back to the collection, and so on, … You get the picture. Did I mention, she was two! Yeah, I have a picture of her with some woman’s size six shoes, a little purse, and a toy cell phone to her ear. It’s a really scary picture. Yes, she is cute … very cute. So cute that one might miss that the photo is a harbinger of things to come – expensive things.

I don’t get the shoe thing. Not counting my basketball shoes collecting dust in the closet, I own five pairs. It’s the most I’ve owned at one time in my life; I’m kind of embarrassed that I have so many. But I’ve heard it enough to be convinced that the thing for shoes is not made up. Oh, it’s real; I’m a believer. What I did not know was that that thing, the thing for shoes is in the female gene. Somehow it’s tied in with that extra X chromosome. Who knew?

And, yup, she still likes shoes … a lot.

Expert, Schmexpert

March 19th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I’m no expert. In thinking of a topic about which I would enjoy writing, two criteria came to mind. One, it had to be significant; it had to matter to me. My wife and I have been married going on fifteen years. Nothing has occupied us more in these years than our three children, now ages 12, 11, and 7. They are our joy, our thoughts, our dreams. So, yeah, you better believe Fatherhood is important to me. Secondly, I wanted the topic to be useful, not just ramblings and rants. The world is littered with the ‘fall out’ of poor parenting – poor fathering, which is as you probably know easy to do. And yet amongst fathers, there doesn’t seem to me to be much talk on the subject. I feel like I have over the years received invaluable help, the kind of help without which I would have botched this thing beyond recognition. In sharing some of my experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly – my hope is that some dad, somewhere will benefit. But an expert? No. Not me.

My take is not all fields lend themselves to the notion of expertise. Fatherhood and fantasy football are two of many that do not. One more thing: Often a novice on the ground is better than some expert in the sky.

On the latter point, your kids need a father. You’re the one with that name. Like it or not, to them, you’re the only expert who matter … and, a … you are that to your kids – you’re the expert.

Fantasy Friday

March 16th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I’m Glad I’m Not John Elway

In Broncos lore, John Elway is The Hero. He is the tragic, vanquished Figure in their greatest tragedies; he is the triumphant Conqueror in their greatest victories. Both the most gut-wrenching and the most exhilarating moments etched into the memory of every Bronco fan … well, every fan over twenty, have in them Elway at Quarterback. He was the “Can’t Miss” Kid out of Stanford. And when he rode into Denver with his feathery blond hair and his pearly whites, Orange Crush Nation just knew, “Things are going to be set right around here.” It took some doing, but he got it done. Back to back Superbowls, and a walk-off shot – MVP of Superbowl XXXIII.

Those exploits buy you all kinds of capital. In Denver, John can just about do no wrong … just about. We’re going to see how much capital he really has as he tries to wiggle himself free from Tebowmania. Elway sees it: You can’t win with a Quarterback who runs better than he throws. It’s entertaining for awhile, but eventually the Patriots of this world sends you packing. Elway knows this and so all last season, he tried to delicately slip the knot. How to get rid of Tebow while appeasing a rabid, irrational fan base? And then the unthinkable happens in Indy. Peyton Manning gets cut. Suddenly, the instrument to sever the tie drops, gift-wrapped from the sky. Can’t put Tebow behind Orton or Quinn, but who can argue with the best QB to have ever played the position? I think with his reach for Manning, Elway is trying to get away from Tebow as much as he’s trying to get near Manning.

Of the possible scenarios, there’s only one that favors Elway. He has to get Manning, and Manning has to play great. That’s it. All other scenarios have Elway pressed against a wall screaming, “Wait! Wait! Don’t you remember ‘The Drive’? What about the rings? Don’t you know what I’ve done for you people?”

Like I said, glad I’m not John Elway.

Wherever Manning lands, got to think he boosts the value of the receiving corps. Kenny Britt and Jared Cook? Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker?



What’s up Doc?

March 14th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I understand that we do things in doctor’s offices – things we would not do anywhere else. Like nuding up and putting on that ridiculous, powder blue, paper get-up with the ‘back door’ swung wide open. Like having a grown man handle your sac to check for an unwanted mass on your nut. And at forty-two, bending over for that grown man is right around the corner for me. So, I have that to look forward to. It’s a different place, where a lot of stuff that wouldn’t go, goes. And it’s a different relationship – that Dr/patient relationship.

I get it. But even by medical standards, pregnancy and birth are … how do I say? … intimate. It’s all out there, man. Inhibitions be damned; there are more pressing things afoot. After we got a Doctor’s confirmation that my wife was indeed pregnant, the first order of business was finding a OB/GYN. The nurse at the clinic recommended highly a Dr in the area. He was a dude. I still remember our first office visit in which the Dude proceeded to check my wife. It was strange. In the same breath, I felt like saying, “Is everything okay?” and “Hey, man! What the hell you doin’?” Both wanting to thank him, and choke him out.

At delivery, the Dude did not show up – which we’ve since learned is fairly common. A real wonderful Lady Dr was on call for the delivery. She was so skilled, so comforting, and in a way that you’d want in a trauma situation – she took charge. When we found out about our second pregnancy, my wife wanted to look for a female OB. I agreed. Look, I’m not saying Dude OBs are bad. If you and your wife can roll like that, good for you. I’m sure there are tons of great Dudes out there doing great OB/GYNing. Just telling our experience. Perhaps, the more important principle here is pregnancy and birth are intimate, deeply personal processes. If you are able, take the time to find a Dr with whom your wife is very comfortable.

Speaking of latex

March 12th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Our Son was not planned. Or better, at ten months our Son descended on our three year plan like a missile from the sky. “In coming!” Five months after his birth, my wife was taking another home pregnancy test. Yep, you read that right. This time in secret because she could not bear the thought of weeping in front of me if the result confirmed her suspicions. It did. She wept. It was our two year anniversary.

Yeah, yeah, I knew what caused pregnancies. The problem was we were using a natural method of birth control, which is to say, we were using the method that gets you pregnant! Not saying it doesn’t work. Depending on the method, it could prove to be an effective form of birth control. Where the flaw lies is not in the method itself, but in its dependence on human, namely the husband’s self-control. We realized too late that the common backdrop for most of these conversations about natural birth control were kids – lots of kids. Crawling, crying, running around, throwing. From the midst of the swirling mayhem would come forth a calm voice, “Yes, we went with a natural method; it’s great.” Do not listen; look around.

Nine months later our beautiful daughter was born. After she was born my wife pretty much wanted me fitted for a full body latex suit.
“Hi honey. How was your day?”
“Good. And you?”
“Good. Here, why don’t you put this on?”
“Now? But it gets so hot in that thing? Do I really have to put it on before dinner?”

Speaking of latex … one day, my wife says, “Why didn’t we have some condoms around for those iffy days?” Aaah, right. Hey so those of you going natural, something to think about.

Fantasy Friday

March 10th, 2012 § 1 Comment

D’you say ‘Cooked Goose’?

It’s the name of my fantasy football team. Really. For a couple years, I’d heard about fantasy football. My friends told me how fun it was, how we needed to start our own league. “Yeah, yeah,” I thought, “I don’t have time for that sort of nonsense.” At the start of the 2008 NFL Season, I relented. “Okay, it’ll be a good excuse to get regular connection with some friends, reconnect with some old ones. I’ll goof around with it.” I’m pretty much a junky now. Last season I had to carefully regulate my dosage, so as not to become a toothless, street walking mumbler.

Now, I’m not going to bore you with the “in and outs” of fantasy sports, more specifically fantasy football. If you don’t know, I figure, you don’t care. If you do, then no need to explain. The origins of “Cooked Goose” go back to Tom Brady’s historic 07 season. At season’s end, Tom had accrued enough yards to place himself 3rd all time in single season passing yards. That’s all time mind you. Them there are some serious fantasy points. What made this season transcendent however was that those yards were coupled with 50 passing TDs. And that’s the most ever thrown in a single season. Add ’em up, and you got yourself the Fantasy Football MVP. Oh, right, right … and more importantly the 2007 NFL MVP. Psshhh, I knew that.

Not knowing anything about fantasy football, I went partial auto draft that first year. My first round auto pick was Tom Brady. The Pats opened their season hosting the KC Chiefs on a sunny, New England afternoon. On the 15th offensive snap of the game, a 28 yard completion to Randy Moss, the Chiefs’ safety Bernard Pollard clumsily lunged at Tom Brady’s left knee tearing both the ACL and the MCL. It was a season ending injury. While watching the re-play of the play and the subsequent footage of him being helped off the field, I thought, “My goose is cooked.”

The following week, I changed my team name to “Cooked Goose”, and went on to win the championship of our league.


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