Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Houston Open Preview

So apparently we've entered knee-jerk reaction season where the Ravens' success will be short-lived, Florida Gulf Coast University was way under-seeded and Tiger is the top ranked golfer in the world again. Those would all be perfectly reasonable and defensible positions if you arrived on Earth at some point around last Tuesday but here at the FGR we shoot for more of a historical perspective so let's review a few facts and see if we can plant them in the path of these three story lines.

The Ravens

"Take a chance and sign some crap."
Every year after the Steelers, Giants, Packers or Saints win the Super Bowl, the experts all reach a consensus on the correct way to build an NFL champion: (1) Find a quarterback, (2) build through the draft, (3) don't waste your salary cap dollars on aging players and (4) seriously, find a quarterback. Then we hit free agency in mid-March and all of that logic goes out the window. There has never been a better example of that than this year as everyone keeps asking, "what are the Ravens doing?"

The answer of course is that they're following the universally agreed upon formula for remaining consistently competitive. We'll go into this in greater detail as we get closer to the draft but for right now, just think of Ozzie Newsome as Navin Johnson during his weight guessing gig at the carnival and Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger as eight pencils, two hula dolls and an ashtray.* Trust me. If you think Ozzie is doing it wrong . . . you're wrong.

Florida Gulf Coast

I actually heard someone in the sports media business who knows what he's talking about 99% of the time say that Florida Gulf Coast being a #15 seed was unfair to Georgetown who they thumped in the first round.** Before we become too mesmerized by all of the shiny alley oops we saw from Brett Comer and company, let's take a look at how the Eagles earned their #15 seed and see how badly the selection committee really screwed this up. Hey look at that . . . right off the bat they beat Miami which is a # 2 seed in the tournament. Ok, so it happened way back in early November when the players were still breaking-in their shoes but still that, combined with what must have been a solid regular season performance in their conference*** would warrant at least a #12 seed. Right?
With all that being said,
where in the hell did these
guys come from?

So tell me, did they pretty much run the table? Uh no. They lost to the accounting firm of Stetson, Mercer and Lipscomb (those are actually three different schools . . . and they lost to Lipscomb twice). They also lost to East Tennessee State and to Maine which finished 6th in an America East Conference that features perennial powers such as Stony Brook, Hartford and Albany. So despite all of the evidence we have from watching them play 80 minutes of basketball over the course of three days, you can't really say that they were under-seeded. Besides, if you've got five guys who can dribble, a coach, a clipboard and a mascot, you're supposed to beat Georgetown in the first round of the tournament. BOOM!

Tiger Woods

And that brings us to Tiger who regained the top spot in the World Golf Rankings with his 8th career Arnold Palmer Invitational victory. I'm not going re-hash the whole basis for the creation of the FGR Rankings (you can read about it here) but the underlying principle is that we judge golfers based on major wins and, to a lesser extent, contending in majors. The same goes for tennis players and the theory can be extended to quarterbacks who are judged (and paid) based on Super Bowl and NBA players who are judged based on titles won. I was pretty sure we were all in agreement on this.

So how is a guy who hasn't won a major since 2008 and has only been competitive in two of them over the last two and a half years ranked ahead of a guy who has won two of the last seven? And don't talk to me about Tiger's six other wins over the last two years. No one cares about Roger Federer's fifty-nine titles that aren't majors just like no one cares about Jim Kelly's four runner-up finishes in the Super Bowl. Admittedly, this position is getting more difficult to defend but let's see him win the Masters against maybe the most loaded field that tournament has ever seen with guys like Phil, Bubba, Rory, Adam Scott, Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose making it their mission to keep him from putting on a another green jacket, then we'll talk.

The Shell Houston Open

On to this week's picks. At this point, using Steve Stricker is never a bad idea, just depends on where you think he has the best chance of winning. I see a better opportunity down the road at the John Deere Classic, however, if you're at a point in the season where you're really jonesing for a top five finish, Stricker's your guy.     

The Overall Top Five

1. Hunter Mahan
Anyone could give you the Maxim cover but when the
FGCU coach's wife was described as a "super model," you
knew there had to be more and the FGR is here for you. 
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Steve Stricker
4. Keegan Bradley
5. Chris Kirk

The One and Done Top Five

1. Hunter Mahan
2. Steve Stricker
3. Keegan Bradley
4. Chris Kirk
5. Jimmy Walker

Last Week's Report Card: C-

1. Ian Poulter - T21
2. Bubba Watson - T14th
3. Peter Hanson - W/D
4. Lee Westwood - T63
5. Sergio Garcia - W/D

Hopefully you read between the lines last week when I said, "I'm still holding Justin Rose out for a major in my one and done league but I'm very tempted to start him here" because I ended-up starting him. My luck seems to be changing as I resisted the urge to butcher the pick at the last minute by switching it to Peter Hanson who pulled-out with a sore neck. That's what the February FGR would have done. The March FGR seems to have pulled his head out of his ass.

Endnotes

* Don't get me wrong about Ed Reed who is a first ballot hall of famer and maybe the most popular Raven of all-time. But at age 35 and earning $6M in the first year of his new contract, he's eight pencils.

** The FGR refuses to call the play-in games the "first round." It's just one of the many things I refuse to do as a matter of principle. For example, in light of its position on certain social/political issues, I refuse to eat at Chick-fil-a (more than four times a week).

". . . and the 'knowledge' you shall
find in the classroom."
*** It's the Atlantic Sun Conference in case you were wondering. A few other fun facts about FGCU: (1) It was established in 1991 meaning I couldn't have attended because it didn't exist when I graduated from high school, (2) it's motto is "Truth, Knowledge, Wisdom" and school president Wilson G. Bradshaw sports brass knuckle style jewelry on each hand that says "TRUTH" and "WISDOM" and (3) the school's endowment is $57.1M which puts it only $31,942,900,000 behind fellow tournament competitor Harvard University.