Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thankful for John Skipper

It has been nearly a month since the Grantland website was shut-down by ESPN president John Skipper but the continued presence of its link on my screen serves as a constant reminder of the sizable void that was suddenly created in my reading list. While some may scoff at the fact that I relied so heavily for my literary fulfillment on a website devoted to relatively short works on sports, pop culture and Game of Thrones worship, I would counter with the sage words of George Costanza who, in response to the question, "what do you read?" . . . responded, "I like Mike Lupica." Unlike Costanza, I am not unemployed and living with my parents, however, I am bald and I do have a constant need for highbrow (or even medium-brow) entertainment that can be consumed in ten minute intervals while I cram lunch down my throat, sit in a carpool line or do that other thing that seems to take men ten minutes and women thirty seconds.

When I first learned that Grantland was finished, I kind of shrugged it off as no big deal but there have been numerous occasions over the past few weeks where I've reached for the icon which still sits at #2 on my list of favorites right behind the Fantasy Golf Report (what would you expect?) and just ahead of The OnionIMDB* and the site I use to reserve tee times. (The Grantland link still works but now when you click on it, all you get is a message that says, "It was a good run" and access to the archives). Obviously I had established a connection to Grantland that was greater than I realized but why? Let's take a look.

Did someone say
Game of Thrones?
We'll begin with a brief history lifted primarily (and by "primarily" I mean "exclusively") from Wikipedia. Grantland was a sports and pop-culture blog owned and operated by ESPN. It was started in 2011 by veteran writer and sports journalist Bill Simmons who remained as editor in chief until May of 2015 at which time Skipper told the New York Times that ESPN would not be renewing Simmons' contract. This decision effectively ended Simmons' tenure at ESPN. Later in the month, Chris Connelly was announced as interim editor-in-chief. At that point, the writing was on the wall for the site because, despite all of the other high quality writers it featured, Simmons was the heart and soul of Grantland. With him out of the picture, it was on life support and Skipper was standing there like a trust fund kid with the plug in one hand and his estranged father's last will and testament in the other.

But it didn't have to be that way because in the roughly four years of its existence, Grantland grew way beyond Simmons' pet project into the online version of what Sports Illustrated*** used to be when it was worthy of a full cover-to-cover inspection every week. What the Grantland website ultimately became is not easily defined but it was kind of a clearinghouse for quality writing on topics of sports, pop culture and politics. Often these topics were blended together so you might have found yourself reading an Andy Greenwald column about how Will Ferrell emerged victorious from a NCAA Tournament style field of 64 Saturday Night Live cast members or a Jason Concepcion piece devoted to identifying the greatest fictional basketball player of all time.    

It was kind of all over the place with no parameters or boundaries so you never knew what you were going to find when you visited and that lack of clear definition may have contributed to its getting whacked. I mean what consumer wants to be constantly presented with a variety of quality options? That'd be like going to a diner with a hangover and having to decide whether you wanted a cheeseburger, french toast or a western omelet. That's just too many choices (said no one ever).

The Americans is the best show
that you're probably not watching.
In the case of Grantland, you may have checked-in for some simple NFL picks and then found yourself completely distracted by Mark Lisanti's Mad Men Power Rankings or Charles Pierce's Dean Smith obituary or Brian Phillips' deconstruction of the FIFA presidential election. I'm sure the fact that the site covered topics unrelated to ESPN programming instead of shilling strictly for the mothership also contributed to its downfall. The fat cats at Disney (which owns ESPN) could not have been pleased that Grantland was sparking interest in non-Disney programming like Breaking Bad (AMC), The Americans (FX) and Homeland (Showtime).

That's certainly how I read the termination slip that Skipper handed to the site on or about October 30th: "Effective immediately we are suspending the publication of Grantland. After careful consideration, we have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise blah blah blah . . ." (I added that last part). In other words, we're going to focus more on pimping our own shows, cheerleading for the sports we televise and promoting the daily fantasy sports companies we're in bed with while at the same time pretending to be an objective journalistic enterprise. A website devoted to quality journalism not only doesn't fit with that mission, it hinders it. 

If you question my questioning of Skipper's motives and credibility, consider that back in May after ESPN parted ways with Simmons, he said that the network was “committed to Grantland.” I guess he meant "committed" in the same way that we're all "committed" to getting more out of our gym memberships, learning a foreign language and converting all of our old home movies from VHS to digital. "Committed" my ass. The only reasons Skipper kept Grantland going for another five months were (1) he didn't want killing it to look like a spite move after splitting with Simmons and (2) ESPN has a huge stake in the NBA and one of the things that Grantland did best was cover the NBA even post-Simmons thanks to Jalen Rose, Zach Lowe, Andrew Sharp, Kirk Goldsberry, et al. Don't think that the end of Grantland coming three days after the start of the regular season was a coincidence because there is rarely anything coincidental about these types of decisions.

So now that ESPN won't be taxed by having to run a basically autonomous website, it will have more "time and energy" to focus on programming like the IQ bankrupting First Take featuring the tag team of Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless who together should go by the name "The Assassins of Intelligent Discourse." It would appear that this is just another stage in the evolutionary dumbing down of the network marked by the departure of talent like Dan Patrick, Rich Eisen, Robin Roberts, Colin Cowherd, Keith Olbermann, Brian Kenny, Charlie Steiner, Harold Reynolds, etc. You may not have liked them and some of their departures weren't ESPN's fault but the fact is that they were all thoughtful and provocative and they're all gone.

Don't forget hot sideline reporters
like every parking lot attendant's
worst nightmare, Britt McHenry.
Now the faces and voices of the franchise are Mike & Mike who are great if you also get a kick out of your uncle who tells the same jokes every time you see him and then laughs way too hard at the punch lines, the over the top Dan Le Batard and shouting clowns like Smith and Bayless. Beyond them you have a crew of competent yet indistinguishable SportsCenter anchors and panel after panel of ex-players/coaches battling for thirty seconds of airtime to make a barely tangential connection between the topic of the day and some story from their past. If it wasn't for PTICollege Gameday, Mel Kiper and Scott Van Pelt, the entire network would be almost unwatchable. Thanks to the dumping of Grantland, they don't produce anything worth reading either. The classic double threat.

There was a priceless moment during ESPN's broadcast of last Monday night's Bills-Patriots game when it came time for Mike Tirico to read the promo for next week's game featuring the 3-7 Ravens without Joe Flacco against the 2-8 Browns (I wonder how much "time and energy" went into picking that inevitable turd as a Monday night game). Tirico asked Jon Gruden "do you like yourself some football?" and then chuckled before finishing "because we're going to test that next week." Of course Gruden came back with some typical Gruden bullshit ("TGB") about a smash-mouth game between two division rivals and capped it off with something that sounded like a pirate coughing-up a hairball for emphasis. And that really sums-up the current ESPN mission statement doesn't it: We're going to sell our customers a steaming pile of crap but first we're going to have one of our ex-player/coaches wrap it in shiny paper, put a big bow on it and deliver it with some flowers to hide the smell. 

So as we approach the day when we sit around the table and awkwardly testify (and sometimes perjure ourselves) about what we are thankful for, I would like to offer my most sincere thanks to John Skipper for the increasingly frivolous and superficial sports broadcasting company that he has given us. You shouldn't have Mr. Skipper. No really. You shouldn't have.        


IMDB (Internet Movie Database) is by far the most relied upon website by the FGR. It is the ultimate resource for locating basic movie quotes and cross-referencing actors with films. If you excluded pornography, I would declare it the best website ever created.

** The people have spoken and demanded a return to the kind of culturally enriching photography on which the Fantasy Golf Report was built. (Who cares if "the people" was really just four emails and three guys at the gym?) The people have been heard!  

*** I'm not exactly sure when or why I abandoned Sports Illustrated but I do remember reaching a point where I found only 10% of each issue worth reading. Some of that is attributable to the fact that a magazine that reports on events that are over a week old is always going to taste a bit stale (says the guy writing about an event that occurred over three weeks ago).

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Defending DraftKings

The two big one day fantasy sports outlets, DraftKings and FanDuel,* have been taking a lot of heat lately for everything from incessant carnival barking to Gordon Gekko level insider trading. Well we here at the Fantasy Golf Report believe that there are two sides to every story and, with our joint background in complex litigation** and fantasy sports nerdophilia, we can't think of anyone more qualified to take-up the cause of these two beleaguered organizations whose only crime seems to be providing fantasy sports fans with a better way of life. Let the whining begin.

They Advertise Way Too Much

We can dispense with this one by asking the obvious question, "can you have too much advertising when you're communicating such a valuable public service?" I don't hear anyone complaining about the endless ads on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC enticing the elderly to buy gold.*** Or selling them on the benefits of reverse mortgages to take advantage of the equity from what is probably the only thing of value they still own after the 2008 meltdown forced them back into the role of Chick-fil-a table wiper. These companies are just trying to help people and it's no different for DraftKings and FanDuel which also offer financial security only through a giant million dollar check presented to you as confetti rains from the ceiling at your local Buffalo Wild Wings.

"What is she doing back there?
I never know what she's doing."
You see, we're not selling pipe dreams here people. According to one of their radio ads, winning at fantasy football is the key that will release you from your prison cubicle. Forget that many a successful career started in a cubicle and were inspired by the desire to graduate from it. That's for suckers who want to work. DraftKings and FanDuel are offering you a very real shortcut to financial freedom and it is their right, nay, their duty to remind you of that every five minutes with actors who have been carefully chosen to look like 32 year old men still living in their parents' basements? MOM! THE MEATLOAF! FUCK!!!

It's Really Just Illegal Gambling

No it's not. The definition of "gambling" is "playing games of chance for money." There are two types of daily fantasy sports participants: (1) Computer geniuses who enter hundreds of teams every day using sophisticated programs that virtually guarantee a return of roughly 8% over time. For them, this is not a game of chance. It's a fairly risk free investment strategy; and (2) Regular guys at Saturday cookouts with Baby Bjorns strapped to them like straitjackets playing on rumors and hunches. These guys have no chance. Either way, "chance" is not a factor so it's not gambling. What else ya got?   

Insider Trading

In case you hadn't heard, an employee of DraftKings recently won $350,000 on FanDuel and he allegedly obtained competitively advantageous information that was only available to him through his employment. Obviously we need to go back to the dictionary on this one for a basic definition of "insider trading" which is "the trading of a company's stocks or other securities by individuals with access to confidential or non-public information about the company." Notice that the definition doesn't say anything about using confidential or non-public information about the individual's company to trade the stocks or other securities of someone else's company. This is an important distinction because it turns what the sharp young minds at DraftKings and FanDuel are doing from "insider trading" to "outsider trading" which isn't even a thing.

"Now are these really the questions I
was called here to answer? Gambling
and insider trading? Please tell me
you've got something more."****
More importantly, however, is the fact that insider trading is only illegal under certain circumstances because trading stocks is regulated. DraftKings and FanDuel are not regulated so even if DraftKings' employees play their own games with full knowledge of every player picked by their customers while on a conference call with FanDuel's employees laughing about how not illegal this all is, it still wouldn't be illegal. It might destroy their credibility to the point where people would stop pl. . . (damn, almost got that one out with a straight face) but illegal? No more illegal than the Russian soldier with the machine gun slung over his shoulder cleaning out your wallet while he studies your Passport.

The Games are Rigged

Now just hold on. "Rigged" is a very strong word that implies an unfair advantage has been built into the games like loaded dice or a marked deck that gives the rigger a better chance of winning. That is not the case here. Let's take a one day fantasy football game for example. Everyone who plays gets to select from the same pool of players with the same salary cap numbers and the results are based on the stats from a professional sports league whose owners have a financial stake in the companies running the games. Tell me what's fishy about that because I'm not seeing it. Just because the aforementioned computer geniuses have software that determines hundreds of lineup combinations with a greater chance of winning that can be modified up until the games start to account for injuries and other changed circumstances doesn't mean the games are rigged. It just means your chances of winning are about the same as if the games were rigged because you might as well be playing No Limit Hold 'Em against the sharks from Rounders. That's a "you" problem my friend.   


To paraphrase Chris Christie channeling his inner Allen Iverson at last night's debate, "we're talking about fantasy football?!? Don't we have more important things to worry about than an unregulated multi-billion dollar industry creating a whole new generation of gambling addicts?" It's a free country. If you don't like it, move to Denmark with Bernie Sanders. In the meantime, load-up a roster for this week's games and be sure to use the promo code "CHUMP" to get $200 in bonus cash added to the money you won't win.


* This could just as easily been called Defending FanDuel but that didn't have quite the sweet alliterative ring to it.

** One of our writers may have once negotiated a $2,500 settlement for one of his clients and then sent said client a bill for $11,000 but that's just hearsay. (Look for next week's feature . . . Litigation: Still the Most Cost Effective Way to Settle Your Petty Disputes).

*** These commercials feature images of global unrest and warnings of the next economic collapse followed by reliable trustworthy pitchmen from our past like William Devane preaching the safety of gold because you know, the price of gold only goes in one direction - up. Gold pimp, Rosland Capital, takes it one step further with a running national debt calculator on its website to really drive home the hopelessness and inevitability of it all. I'm surprised they don't have a member of ISIS holding the calculator in one hand and a burning American flag in the other.

Remember, if you can't spot the sucker in your first
half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.
**** I know I've disgruntled a major segment of my customer base by taking a faux moral stand against featuring scantily clad Hollywood temptresses and British porn stars but allow me to make amends by referring you to Esquire's gallery entitled Emilia Clarke is the Sexiest Woman Alive in 2015. I hope this means we can still be friends.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

Friday, October 16, 2015

Top Ten Most Underrated Movie Dads

I have now been a dad for half of my adult life (gulp) so I think that qualifies me to judge the difference between a good dad and a lousy dad, especially considering my experience as both. (I'm convinced that if you're a good dad 100% of the time, then you're actually a bad dad. At least that's what I keep telling myself).* 

But this list isn't necessarily about good v. bad dads. It's about dad's who brought something significant to the table despite limited lines, screen time or both. So we've avoided the obvious choices like Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills in Taken. Also failing to make the cut were other dads we'd really like to include like George Clooney as Matt King in The Descendants (leading role), John Mahoney as Mr. Court in Say Anything (just missed the top ten) and Robert Duvall as The Great Santini (you don't make the list if the movie is named after your character).

So here we go with a somewhat random list of characters who helped drive the story in their roles as either the dad you wish you had, the dad you're glad you didn't or the dad who, upon reflection, really wasn't all that bad.

10. Vince Vaughn as Beanie: Old School

Beanie's inclusion was a close call because he is clearly one of the three main characters but his dad scenes are way down on the list of storylines and serves more of a supporting role for other characters to work off of than it's own driving force. Without Beanie as a dad, however, we never get the birthday party scene with Frank getting shot in the neck with the tranquilizer dart. (How else would you set-up an encounter between Frank and an animal trainer?) It also gave us the "earmuffs" bit which doesn't actually work in real life because no dad stops to tell his kid "earmuffs" before littering the landscape with F-Bombs. At least no dad in my house.  

Dad Grade: B- (Beanie clearly loves his kids but still seems a bit conflicted about committing to a life of monogamous fatherhood).

Best quote: "You think I like avoiding my wife and kids to hang-out with nineteen year old girls everyday?"

Runner-up: "Don't say sorry to me Frank, say it to the baby."

9. Val Bisoglio as Frank Manero, Sr.: Saturday Night Fever

The first of our three bad dads, Frank Manero is an out of work construction worker who likes to moderate dinner conversations by smacking everyone within arms reach anytime they get out of line (note that in this scene, everyone at the table takes a hit except grandma who actually gives the poor table itself a shot). If you asked him to sum-up his parenting philosophy, it would go something like "tell your kids they suck at least once a day or life will tell them for you."

"Four dollars? Shit."
Dad Grade: D- (Only because he deserves a slightly better grade than the guy below who gets the "F").

Best quote: Commenting on his son Tony's announcement that his boss just gave him a four dollar per week raise at the paint store . . . "Four dollars? . . . You know what four dollars buys today? . . . It don't even buy three dollars!"

Runner-up: "ONE PORK CHOP . . . ONE!!!" (It's in the table hitting scene).

8. Alan Arkin as Edwin Hoover: Little Miss Sunshine

Edwin Hoover edges-out his son Richard Hoover because Edwin was far more entertaining and, in his own profane way, probably a better dad. He's takes Little Miss Sunshine from a B+ movie to an "A" and for that he makes the list.  

Dad Grade: B+ (Hoover gets an extra bump for also being such an inspirational grandfather).

Best quote: "Every night it's the fucking chicken! Holy God Almighty! Is it possible just once we could get something to eat for dinner around here that's not the goddamned fucking chicken?"

Runner-up: "Fuck a lotta women kid. I have no reason to lie to you. Not just one . . . a lotta women."

7. Kurtwood Smith as Mr. Perry: Dead Poet's Society

We need at least one true villain and you'd be hard-pressed to top Mr. Perry unless you wanted to go with a pedophile, (Bill Maplewood, Happiness), a psychopath (Jack Torrance, The Shining) or a Jedi who lost his way (Darth Vader, The Empire Strikes Back).*

"I know you're going find this hard to believe but I'm
going to star in a very successful sitcom one day."
Dad Grade: F (When your son kills himself with your gun to escape the life that you have dictated for him, um, I'm afraid that's an "F"). 

Best quote: "Oh stop it. Don't be so dramatic. You make it sound like a prison term. You don't understand Neil. You have opportunities that I never dreamt of and I am not going to let you waste them." Neil killed himself that night. Eat it dad.

Runner-up: None. He had some other lines but frankly they're all too depressing. 

6. Robert Swain as Rollin: Hoosiers

Rollin had "honorable mention" written all over him until we realized how critical these two moves were: (1) At the first practice he brings his son back, has him apologize to coach Dale and then bounces the other dads and assorted small town business people when coach tells them that practice is closed; and (2) He's
 instrumental in keeping Coach Dale from getting fired. Throw-in the fact that by the end of the movie, he's working as the only assistant coach in the championship game. That kind of impact from a bit part is just what this list is all about

Dad Grade: A (He gets it).

Best quote: He tears-up the ballots after the original vote count and firmly declares, "Coach Stays!" BOOM!!!

Runner-up: "Coach Stays!" (Sorry but you're not topping that).

5. J.K. Simmons as Mac MacGuff: Juno

I started writing this thing long before Whiplash was released, otherwise Simmons would probably be three spots higher based purely on his participation in one of the five best movie endings I've ever seen. As it is, Mac MacGuff is probably the closest thing we have to a real life dad on this list (remember who's writing this thing). A straight talking, sarcastic, loving dad who gets caught in a bit of a trick bag because he let his daughter be her own person. He gets bonus points for being the dad on this list you'd most like to have a couple of beers with. He's also part of the best father-daughter combo on the list and I've got one of those so even more bonus points. 

Dad Grade: A- (A little detached but definitely has his heart in the right place).

Best quote: "Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what your are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass."

Runner-up: "Who's the father Juno? . . . Paulie Bleeker? . . . I didn't think he had it in him."

Second runner-up: "Thanks for having me and my irresponsible child over to your house."

4. Derrick McGavin as Old Man Parker: A Christmas Story

Let's face it, Old Man Parker was the star of the movie but he wasn't the main subject and he didn't narrate so he makes this list under the wire and, once he satisfied the qualifying criteria, you couldn't keep him out. He's probably a more accurate depiction of a day-to-day grind it out dad than most of us would want to admit.

"He never looked at his boys
with this kind of adoration."
Dad Grade: C (We're taking the position that buying the BB gun was really just a make-up call for years of subordinating his parenting obligations to things like the pursuit of random prizes).

Best quote: Explaining why Santa brought the BB gun, "I had one when I was eight years old."

Runner-up: "SONS OF BITCHES . . . BUMPUSES!!!"

  3. Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum: The Royal Tenenbaums

Royal is another somewhat borderline candidate because he's essentially the title character but this was a classic ensemble cast and if you think I'm leaving a degenerate former lawyer off this list, then you don't know me so good. 

Dad Grade: D (Again, it's all relative compared to the guy who drove his son to suicide). 

Best quote: This one is fairly self-explanatory. "I've always been considered an asshole for about as long as I can remember. That's just my style." (I feel you Royal).

Runner-up: Royal confronts Danny Glover's character, Henry Sherman, and accuses him of trying to steal his ex-wife. Royal begins the exchange by telling Sherman, "you heard me Coltrane" and concludes it with "you wanna talk some jive? I'll talk some jive. I'll talk some jive like you never heard."

2. Richard Jenkins as Dr. Dale Doback: Step Brothers

It was a close battle for the top spot thanks to Jenkins pulling-off one of the greatest straight-man performances in movie history. Without him, and perennially sneaky hot Mary Steenburgen, Step Brothers could have been a watch once and move on comedy but Dr. Huff and Dr. Doback (along with Derrick) are key reasons why you're not surfing past this movie on a random Tuesday night.  

Dad Grade: D+ (Not quite Frank Manero but when your 40 year old son is still living at home . . .).

Best quote: "I'm gonna go down to the Cheesecake Factory, have a drink." (Also winner for best overall quote).

Runner-up: "You know what I got for Christmas? A crushed soul."

1. Paul Dooley as Mr. Stohler: Breaking Away***

"I'm not 'papa,' I'm your
goddamn father!"
In the end it had to be Mr. Stohler right? He's the consummate working-class dad trying to decode the riddle that is his teenage son. He owns the movie from the moment he walks onto the screen and does not have a single word of wasted dialogue (it doesn't hurt that it's one of the best movies ever made).

Dad Grade: A (The quarry speech, showing-up for the end of the race and riding the bike at the end. We knew he had it in him).

Best quote: "No I don't feel lucky to be alive! I feel lucky I'm not dead. There's a difference."

Runner-up: Every other line he has.


* Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Case in point: A few weeks ago I stumbled onto what I thought was a free hour of daylight on a perfect September evening after shuttling all three kids to their destinations so I bolted for the first tee and squeezed in six holes of speed golf. As I was coming-off the course, I stumbled onto a group of about ten merry fellows who were getting ready to sit down to dinner and asked me to join. Alas I could not as I had promised myself that I would be home at a reasonable hour that evening to spend some time with the family but I did, however, have time for "a beer." About halfway through my second beer I glanced at my phone and noticed multiple messages from the FGW so I discreetly checked them only to be reminded that I had previously agreed to pick-up my eight year old daughter from soccer practice which had ended ten minutes prior. Oh yeah, it was now dark outside. As I bolted from the table, I only had time to say "gotta go" and as I sprinted to the car I called my wife back hoping that somehow this situation had resolved itself. Fortunately it had because she magically foresaw my screw-up and made it to the field on time. And to make the ending an even happier one, my second beer was still on the table when I returned. So you tell me . . . good dad or bad dad?    

** I never saw Natural Born Killers so Rodney Dangerfield's character does not get the mention he apparently deserves. Also, Darth Vader warrants consideration after coming full circle by saving his son's life in Return of the Jedi after previously cutting his hand off with a light saber. That's a nice comeback but he's frankly a little too mainstream.

*** If I did have an honorable mention category, Paul Dooley would've gotten a piece of that too for playing a softened version of Mr. Stohler as the dad in Sixteen Candles

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com (or don't).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

When One Door Closes . . . Oh Shut the Fuck Up.

"Jesus, everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end." - Brian Flanagan (Cocktail).

At this point, I'm not sure if that quote refers to just the 2015 fantasy golf season or the Fantasy Golf Report as we've come to know it. I've been cranking-out this drivel on a weekly basis since June of 2011 when I wrote about meeting Golf Channel personality Win McMurry at the U.S. Open and somehow failed to include a picture of her (learning curve). That's a lot of Google searches for cheerleaders, hot golf chicks and Selma Hayek and way too many references to Wall StreetStripes and, of course, the entire Tom Cruise 1980's catalog.

Here is what I do know. There will be no weekly NFL entries this year. I've tried to maintain my interest in an enterprise that has dedicated more energy to annoying its customers than Comcast but I think I've finally reached my tipping point. Maybe it was the Patriots winning another Super Bowl or Deflategate keeping them in the news all freakin' summer. Maybe it's the Chinese water torture of never-ending disingenuous DraftKings and FanDuel ads that depict regular guys winning millions when it's really just a smaller scale version of the Ponzi scheme credit default swap market that took down the economy in 2008 (more on that later). Or maybe it's just that I've been a hardcore NFL fan for nearly forty years and now I'm just bored.* That's already about thirty-five years longer than I've maintained a continued interest in anything else.**     

Those, however, are but contributing factors. The primary reason for this direction shift is that I've fallen into a rut of formulaic writing (if you can even call it "writing") that depends on rankings, lists and other gimmicks. Other than the rant about the Orioles turning "Autograph Day" for my kids into the elementary school field trip equivalent of "How Hot Dogs Are Made," I can't remember writing one thing this year that I would actually want to read myself. Somewhere along the way I turned into Carmelo Anthony. A lazy uninspired writer resting on a bed of laurels harvested from a complete lack of achievement.  

Well that's all going to change. I want to stop writing like the hacks who pump-out content for the MSN homepage and start writing like Esquire's Charles Pierce*** or at least still be trying when I die (as opposed to "die trying" which is a subtle yet important distinction in this case as I don't plan to write myself to death . . . I've got plenty of other vices working to that end). I figure at the very least I'll come up short and still be the poor man's Charles Pierce a/k/a Norman Chad. 

From a practical standpoint, this means that there's gonna be a few changes round these parts. For one, I'm going to write whenever the fuck I feel like it and not write whenever the fuck I don't (God that felt good). And I'm going to being saying "fuck" a lot more because it is by far my favorite fucking word in the whole fucking English language. 

"Cause you're fuckin' fired!!!"
Also, no more gratuitous artwork inserted solely to increase web traffic. I'm not interested in visits from guys who find me via searches for "cheerleader boobs." And besides, the old posts aren't going anywhere so there's still plenty of "content" to satisfy that demographic. We'll reevaluate in December as we approach the 2016 golf season but we're not going to waste the fall dreaming about Gorgonzola cheese when it's clearly brie time baby. Step into my office . . . why? 


* It could also be because the team towards which I direct my affection on Sundays has started 0-3 but the fact is I started writing this when they were only 0-1. If anything, the Ravens' disastrous start has rekindled my interest a bit because everyone is writing them off and, on behalf of the city of Baltimore which has already had a rough year, fuck everyone.

** Except my marriage of course which is a constant source of inspiration and spiritual . . . I'm going to stop talking now. 

*** In his recent piece on the Deflategate ruling, Pierce wrote of Roger Goodell, "It has exposed him as a faithless and arbitrary jefe presiding over a banana republic of his own mind." And in The Swamp: The State of the NFL in Washington, D.C., he uncorked these two unhittable sliders, "Dan Snyder, the owner, is a walking, talking, meddling pile of failure" and "[t]his team should take the field to the music of a steam calliope. There should be jugglers and aerialists and bears that can dance and chickens that can do math. There obviously is no need to hire clowns." (By far the best use of the word "calliope" since Bruce Springsteen sang about one crashing to the ground).     

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fantasy Golf: The Tour Championship Preview

One more weekend of quality golf before we shut it down for the offseason with the exception of two events that could draw your passive attention in the President's Cup* and the WGC - HSBC Champions event. It's been quite a year with Jordan Spieth dominating the early half and Jason Day the latter. If 2015 gets the ending it deserves, we're going to see those two battling down the stretch along with some combination of Rory, Rickie, Henrik, Bubba and Rose. As long as Day doesn't lap the field again and Daniel Berger and Steven Bowditch stay out of the way, it's going to be more fun than watching Dustin Johnson try to assemble a bookshelf from IKEA. 

So I get one more shot at a prediction this year . . . who's it going to be? Chalk has obviously shifted heavily to Day. Rory played well last week and has a strong track record at East Lake. Spieth appears to have at least pulled his head out of his ass with a tie for 13th at the BMW and he finished 2nd here in 2013. Stenson won it that year and Rickie seems intent on getting his name in the conversation with the new Big Three. Oh it's a veritable potpourri of tends and storylines and that doesn't even include the suddenly intriguing battle for #1 in the world that has never been this close between three golfers this good.  

So with all of that in mind, I'm going with the forgotten man Justin Rose. Remember him? You know, the 2013 U.S. Open champion who quietly had a 2015 that included a T2nd at the Masters, a 4th at the PGA, a T6th at the British and, most recently, a T3rd at the Bridgestone. Not to mention, his last three finishes at the Tour Championship are T4th, 6th and 2nd. Feels like a nice semi-sleeper. Do we honestly think that someone other than Jason Day is going to win it? Of course not but the FGR has always been about flying in the face of convention. Even when it's completely moronic to do so.    

The Tour Championship Odds

In one of the great FGR finds
of all-time, meet Georgia Salpa.
1. Jason Day - 7/2
2. Rory McIlroy - 6/1
3. Jordan Spieth - 8/1
4. Henrik Stenson - 9/1
5. Rickie Fowler - 10/1
6. Justin Rose - 11/1
7. Dustin Johnson - 16/1
8. Bubba Watson - 20/1
9. Zach Johnson - 20/1
10. Jim Furyk - 28/1

The FGR Tour Championship Top Ten

1. Justin Rose
2. Jason Day
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Jordan Spieth
5. Henrik Stenson
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Zach Johnson
8. Dustin Johnson
9. Bill Haas
10. Kevin Kisner
No luck on finding a model
named "East Lake."

The FGR One and Done Pick: Jordan Spieth

The FGR Sleeper Pick: Scott Piercy

One and Done Picks to Date

Hyundai: Kevin Streelman - $70,667
Sony: Chris Kirk - $42,280
Humana: Russell Knox - M/C
Phoenix: Hunter Mahan - $36,729
Farmers: Hideki Matsuyama - M/C

AT&T: Dustin Johnson - $281,067
Northern Trust: Jimmy Walker - $24,120
Honda: Keegan Bradley - M/C
WGC-Cadillac: Bubba Watson - $540,000
Valspar: Jim Furyk - $23,600
Palmer: Brooks Koepka – W/D
Texas Open: Matt Kuchar - $99,200
Houston Open: Louis Oosthuizen - M/C
Masters: Rory McIlroy - $480,000
Heritage: Patrick Reed - M/C
Zurich: Rickie Fowler - M/C
But we'll keep trying.
Match Play: Graeme McDowell - $49,385
Players: Henrik Stenson - $130,857
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson - $624,800
Colonial: Zach Johnson - $78,780
Byron Nelson: Gary Woodland - $15,407
Memorial: Justin Rose - $669,600
FedEx St. Jude: Billy Horschel - $168,000
U.S. Open: Phil Mickelson - $23,822
Travelers: Brandt Snedeker - $147,200
Greenbrier: Kevin Kisner - $500,267
John Deere: Robert Streb - $84,600
British Open: Sergio Garcia - $305,878
Canadian Open: Charley Hoffman - $174,725
Quicken Loans: Justin Thomas - $242,875
Bridgestone: Adam Scott - $55,000
PGA Championship: Jason Day - $1,800,000
Wyndham: Bill Haas - $174,825
Barclays: Charl Schwartzel - M/C
Deutsche: Kevin Chappell - $138,600
BMW: Paul Casey - $73,425

Season Total: $7,055,709


* Because it is highly unlikely that I'll write anything about the President's Cup when it actually happens, consider this footnote your official FGR President's Cup Preview. Let's be honest, the President's Cup is still closer to the Skins Game than it is to the Ryder Cup in terms of importance. Anyone who tells you differently either has an agenda or has a name that rhymes with Fim Tinchem. How else do you explain putting Phil Mickelson on the team this year unless you're still treating it like an exhibition? (And for the record, I'm glad they picked Phil because now I might watch it). Oh yeah, this year they're playing it in South Korea. You know, the home of golf.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The BMW Championship DraftKings Preview

The second to last event of the season deserves better than the short shrift I'm going to give it here but hey, sometimes the day job and a random Monday golf outing that degenerates into a post-round wine tasting/gulping get in the way. We're coming off a decent week at the Deutsche that could have been better if Henrik Stenson and his caddie would've just bummed a cigarette on the 16th hole to figure out which way the freakin' wind was blowing before Henrik dumped it into the pond. Alas, it was but another runner-up finish for one of the FGR's top picks.   

Are those Xenon headlights?

1. Henrik Stenson - $10,500 (2)
2. Kevin Kisner - $7,300 (T12)
3. Chris Kirk - $7,100 (T29)
4. Robert Streb - $8,000 (T39)
5. Brooks Koepka - $8,700 (M/C)
6. Matt Kuchar - $8,500 (T9)
7. Jason Dufner - $7,600 (T60)
8. Zach Johnson - $9,300 (T22)
9. Jordan Spieth - $11,300 (M/C)
10. Luke Donald - $7,800 (T39)
11. Justin Thomas - $7,900 (T56)
12. Jim Furyk - $9,000 (4)
13. Ian Poulter - $7,100 (T33)
14. Brandt Snedeker - $8,400 (T44)
15. Tony Finau - $7,700 (M/C)

The last time the BMW was played at Conway Farms was in 2013 and, judging by the results, the course favors guys who hit fairways and make putts over guys who bomb it. Zach Johnson won by 2, Jim Furyk shot a 59 but still managed to finish 3rd (they should call that a "Furyk") and Luke Donald got a piece of 4th along with Jason Day, Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan. (The artist formerly known as Nick Watney finished 2nd so he might be worth a flier in one of your lineups this week). As you will see below, once you get past ZJ, Furyk and Stenson, we're seeing a lot of value in the $7,000 - $8,000 range so most of our lineups will feature four players from that tier along with a couple of the pricier models.

And speaking of the pricier models, Jordan Spieth has to get back on track this week right? (RIGHT?!?). Jason Day didn't make the list because his $12,600 price tag seems outrageous but if your gut tells you he's got another win in him, then you better pony up. We got burned by Rory in Boston so we're staying away until he shows that he's all the way back. Same for Rickie Fowler who often seems to back-up his great showings with dismal ones. Typical Gen X approach . . . YOU DAMN KIDS GET OFF OF MY LAWN!!! 

Hey honey, let's go reenact the Whitesnake video.

1. Zach Johnson - $9,500
2. Kevin Kisner - $8,100
3. Ian Poulter - $7,200
4. Chris Kirk - $7,300
5. Jim Furyk - $10,000
6. Ryan Palmer - $7,300
7. Brandt Snedeker - $7,900
8. Kevin Chappell - $7,500
9. Jordan Spieth - $11,600
10. Robert Streb - $8,000
11. Paul Casey - $7,800
12. Jason Bohn - $7,200
13. Henrik Stenson - $11,400
14. Russell Knox - $7,400
15. Justin Thomas - $7,600

Oh yeah, we're also bailing on the traditional preview this week as that time will be devoted to football but, for the sake of consistency or something, here's our one and done pick . . . 

One and Done Pick: Paul Casey

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The NFL Week 1 DraftKings Preview

In past years, the FGR has brought you everything on the NFL from mock drafts (both real and fantasized), weekly picks and even something called a Preview of an NFL Preview (the picture makes it worth a look). Well now that's all going to change as we enter the instant gratification world of DraftKings, FanDuel and, more importantly, the year when my interest in the NFL began to wane, a fact that became clear to me when I tried to do some preseason power rankings and realized I had no clue what I was talking about (never stopped you before).

My interest may be waning but
I'm not dead inside. Yet.
Despite my complete lack of preparation and enthusiasm, I have still convinced myself that I'm good at fantasy football and, more specifically, the "art" of identifying value players so here comes the inaugural FGR DraftKings NFL Preview where I try to discover the components that will make you the next guy to be standing in a Buffalo Wild Wings, wearing some unaffiliated jersey you bought at Old Navy and acting like a 12 year old girl at a One Direction concert. (Full disclosure: I have no idea what the DraftKings scoring system is yet and I'm writing this under the gun as I'm coming out of one draft last night and heading to play golf before another one tonight so this could be a bumpy start . . . but a really good 24 hours for the FGR).


Sam Bradford - $6,900: One of the keys to fantasy success in the always unpredictable Week 1 is to identify the shootout. The Falcons-Eagles game features two potentially explosive offenses in a dome against one marginal defense (Eagles) and one atrocious defense (Falcons).

Matt Ryan - $7,500: See the Sam Bradford analysis.


Carlos Hyde - $5,300: All of the top running backs seem a bit overpriced so I'm looking for deals amongst the players ranked 12-16. Hyde should get 20+ touches and have room to run behind an offensive line that was able to make holes for Frank Gore and his walking stick.

Chris Ivory - $4,100: The Jets offense is not going to stink this year because (a) Rex "Fuck the Offense" Ryan is gone and (b) Ryan Fitzpatrick is the closest thing they've had to a real starting quarterback since Brett "Did You Get My Junk Text?" Favre in 2008 (who doesn't love a fun nickname now and then?). Also, new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is not Brian Schottenheimer so they've got that going for them. This is a roundabout way of saying that Chris Ivory is going to be solid as long as he's healthy which could be just this week so ride him while you can.

Lamar Miller - $5,500: Miller is generally regarded as the first guy in either the second or third tier of running backs depending on how multi-tiered your system is (I have six tiers cause I'm fancy). That's probably about right for a guy who had 1,099 yards and 8 touchdowns last year. Here's hoping that the Dolphins' dipshit coaching staff took a look at the stats and figured-out that, when Miller got 15 or more carries, he averaged 95+ yards per game. Playing the Redskins will help.

DeMarco Murray - $6,700: See the Sam Bradford analysis.


Jordan Matthews - $7,200: See the Sam Bradford analysis.

Golden Tate - $6,3000: Wide receiver is such a crapshoot in Week 1 because they've barely gotten any gametime to establish a rhythm with their quarterback. At least with Tate you know he's going to get it thrown his way a bunch by a quarterback who targeted him 142 times last year for 99 receptions and 1,331 yards. (Holy shit. Really? Yup).

There's a lot to like in
Atlanta this week.
John Brown - $4,500: For the 5-7 weeks that Carson Palmer is going to be upright, John Brown is a viable fantasy option. Especially this week against the Saints' sieve defense. 

Andre Johnson - $6,100: Andrew Luck is going to throw it to him about 150 times this year and, unlike his days with the Texans, most of those passes will arrive between his kneecaps and the space four feet above his head.

A.J. Green - $7,800: The top receivers are going for $8,700 to $9,300 so Green, who is as capable as any of them, is the elite value pick at $7,800. 

Charles Johnson - $4,900: I needed another low budget guy and for at least this week I'll buy Matthew Berry's hype that Teddy Bridgewater is the real deal and Johnson will be his go to guy.


Rob Gronkowski - $7,000: Gronk is so far superior to anyone else at this position that he's pretty much a lock for this preview every week. Especially a week when Tom Brady and Bill Belichik want to send a message that you should never rightfully accuse them of cheating.

Owen Daniels - $3,400: Peyton Manning loves tight ends. Gary Kubiak loves tight ends. Let's be honest, who doesn't love tight ends? Throw-in the fact that Daniels will be facing the Ravens which just happens to be the team he played for and the team that Kubiak coached last year. Ugh.


Jets - $2,900: I'll take a defense playing at home against the Browns all year until proven otherwise.

Jaguars - $2,700: They're at home against Cam Newton who has no weapons. For this price, why not?

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.