Welcome to the "Original" Dynasty Rankings Fantasy Football Blog

This blog was born out of a Dynasty Rankings thread originally begun in October, 2006 at the Footballguys.com message boards. The rankings in that thread and the ensuing wall-to-wall discussion of player values and dynasty league strategy took on a life of its own at over 275 pages and 700,000 page views. The result is what you see in the sidebar under "Updated Positional Rankings": a comprehensive ranking of dynasty league fantasy football players by position on a tiered, weighted scale. In the tradition of the original footballguys.com Dynasty Rankings thread, intelligent debate is welcome and encouraged.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 30, 2008: The Sportswriter

From Richard Ford's The Sportswriter:

A lot happens to you in your life and comes to bear midway: your parents can die (mine, though, died years before), your marriage can change and even depart, a child can succumb, your profession can start to seem hollow. You can lose all hope. Any one thing would be enough to send you into a spin. And correspondingly it is hard to say what causes what, since in one important sense everything causes everything else.

. . .

I have relinquished a great deal. I've stopped worrying about being completely within someone else since you can't be anyway -- a pleasant unquestioning mystery has been the result. I've also become less sober-sided and "writerly serious," and worry less about the complexities of things, looking at life in more simple and literal ways. I have also stopped looking around what I feel to something else I might be feeling. With all those eighteen women, I was so bound up creating and resolving a complicated illusion of life that I lost track of what I was up to -- that I ought to be having a whale of a good time and forget about everything else.

When you are fully in your emotions, when they are simple and appealing enough to be in, and the distance is closed between what you feel and what you might also feel, then your instincts can be trusted. It is the difference between a man who quits his job to become a fishing guide on Lake Big Trout, and who one day as he is paddling his canoe into the dock at dusk, stops paddling to admire the sunset and realizes how much he wants to be a fishing guide on Lake Big Trout; and another man who has made the same decision, stopped paddling at the same time, felt glad he was, but also thought e could probably be a guide on Windigo Lake if he decided to, and might also get a better deal on canoes.

Another way of describing this is that it's the difference between being a literalist and a factualist. A literalist is a man who will enjoy an afternoon watching people while stranded in an airport in Chicago, while a factualist can't stop wondering why his plane was late out of Salt Lake, and gauging whether they'll still serve dinner or just a snack.

Tags: Richard Ford, The Sportswriter

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Quote of the Day: June 29, 2008: Somebody I Could Respect

From J.D. Salinger's 1961 novel, Franny and Zooey:

"I know this much, is all," Franny said. "If you're a poet, you do something beautiful. I mean you're supposed to leave something beautiful after you get off the page and everything. The ones you're talking about don't leave a single, solitary thing beautiful. All that maybe the slightly better ones do is sort of get inside your head and leave something there, but just because they do, it doesn't have to be a poem, for heaven's sake. It may just be some kind of terribly fascinating, syntaxy droppings -- excuse the expression. Like Manlius and Esposito and all those poor men."

Lane took time to light a cigarette for himself before he said anything. Then: "I thought you liked Manlius. As a matter of fact, about a month ago, if I remember correctly, you said he was darling, and that you -- "

"I do like him. I'm sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect. . . ."

Tags: J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 28, 2008: I Liked the Old News Better

More from Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Vol. 1:

I had a primitive way of looking at things and I liked country fair politics. My favorite politician was Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, who reminded me of Tom Mix, and there wasn't any way to explain that to anybody. I wasn't comfortable with all the psycho polemic babble. It wasn't my particular feast of food. Even the current news made me nervous. I liked the old news better. All the new news was bad. It was good that it didn't have to be in your face all day. Twenty-four-hour news coverage would have been a living hell.

Tags: Bob Dylan, Chronicles Vol. 1

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 27, 2008: Experience, Observation, and Imagination

From Bob Dylan's 2004 Chronicles, Vol. 1:

The first thing that has to go is any form of artistic self-expression that's dear to you. Art is unimportant next to life, and you have no choice. I had no hunger for it anymore, anyway. Creativity has much to do with experience, observation and imagination, and if any one of those key elements is missing, it doesn't work. It was impossible now for me to observe anything without being observed.

Tags: Bob Dylan, Chronicles Vol. 1

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 26, 2008: Moral Relativism

More from Sam Harris' 2004 The End of Faith:

Many intellectuals tend to speak as though something in the last century of ratiocination in the West has placed all worldviews more or less on an equal footing. No one is ever really right about what he believes; he can only point to a community of peers who believe likewise. Suicide bombing isn't really wrong, in any absolute sense; it just seems so from the parochial perspective of Western culture.

Throw a dash of Thomas Kuhn into this pot, and everyone can agree that we never really know how the world is, because each new generation of scientists reinvents the laws of nature to suit its taste. Convictions of this sort generally go by the name of "relativism," and they seem to offer a rationale for not saying anything too critical about the beliefs of others. But most of relativism -- including moral relativism, which seems especially well subscribed -- are nonsensical. And dangerously so. Some may think that it is immaterial whether we think the Nazis were really wrong in ethical terms, or whether we just don't like their style of life. It seems to me, however, that the belief that some worldviews really are better than others taps a different set of intellectual and moral resources. These are resources we will desperately need if we are to oppose, and ultimately unseat, the regnant ignorance and tribalism of our world.

The general retort to relativism is simple, because most relativists contradict their thesis in the very act of stating it. Take the case of relativism with respect to morality: moral relativists generally believe that all cultural practices should be respected on their own terms, that the practitioners of the various barbarisms that persist around the globe cannot be judged by the standards of the West, nor can the people of the past be judged by the standards of the present.

And yet, implicit in this approach to morality lurks a claim that is not relative but absolute. Most moral relativists believe that tolerance of cultural diversity is better, in some important sense, than outright bigotry. This may be perfectly reasonable, of course, but it amounts to an overarching claim about how all human beings should live. Moral relativism, when used as a rationale for tolerance of diversity, is self-contradictory.

Tags: Sam Harris, The End of Faith, Religion

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 25, 2008: His Mind Had Not Been Encouraged to Grow

From Sam Harris' 2004 The End of Faith:

The rise of Nazism in Germany required much in the way of "uncritical loyalty." Beyond the abject (and religious) loyalty to Hitler, the Holocaust emerged out of people's acceptance of some very implausible ideas.

Heinrich Himmler thought the SS should have leeks and mineral water for breakfast. He thought people could be made to confess by telepathy. Following King Arthur and the round table, he would have only twelve people to dinner. He believed that Aryans had not evolved from monkeys and apes like other races, but had come down to earth from the heavens, where they had been preserved in ice from the beginning of time. He established a meteorology division which was given the task of proving this cosmic ice theory. He also thought he was the a reincarnation of Heinrich the First. Himmler was an extreme case: the picture is perhaps one of someone quite mad. But one of his characteristics was much more widely shared -- his mind had not been encouraged to grow. Filled with information and opinion, he had no critical powers.

. . .

Our common humanity is reason enough to protect our fellow human beings from coming to harm. Genocidal intolerance, on the other hand, must inevitably find its inspiration elsewhere. Whenever you hear that people have begun killing noncombatants intentionally and indiscriminately, ask yourself what dogma stands at their backs. What do these freshly minted killers believe? You will find that it is always -- always -- preposterous.

Tags: Sam Harris, The End of Faith, Religion

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 24, 2008: Gurus & Simplicity

From Anthony Storr's 1996 Feet of Clay: Saints, Sinners, and Madmen.

One of the major attractions of some of the faiths propounded by gurus is their simplicity. Many of us harbour a secret wish to be transported back to the world of the nursery, where black is black, and white is white; where the forces of good finally triumph over the forces of evil; where the righteous are taken up into heaven, whilst the wicked perish in the lake of fire. A good deal of the less sophisticated variety of fiction panders to our primitive taste for dividing the world into heroes and villains.

Tags: Feet of Clay, Anthony Storr, Faith, Religion

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Quote of the Day | June 23, 2008: The Kind to Sneak a Meatball into His Tofu

From Dan Jenkins' 1981 Baja Oklahoma:

Candy was barely out of high school when she went to Oregon. The daughter had gone to the same school as Juanita, Paschal High, but Candy had grown up in what was known to most bewildered parents as a period of dope-crazed hippie scum revolution. This was in contrast to Juanita's wonderful era in which kids stalked the elusive V. O. and 7-Up and got angrier at the results of football games than they did at politics.

. . .

Juanita made only three predictions about the "religious person" in Oregon who was enabling hundreds of young people to achieve a heightened consciousness: he would be a twenty-seven-year-old dropout with surfing scars, his sermons would be as deeply meaningful as the dialogue on "Star Trek," and he would, if he weren't watched closely, sneak a meatball into his tofu.

Tags: Dan Jenkins

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 22, 2008: Where the Wave Finally Broke and Rolled Back

From Hunter S. Thompson's gonzo classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era -- the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time -- and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights -- or very early mornings -- when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle -- that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Tags: Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Sixties, Seventies

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 21, 2008: Look at My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!

From Percy Bysshe Shelley's 1818 poem Ozymandias:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Tags: Percy Shelley, poetry, Ozymandias

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 20, 2008: How Big a Rig Do You Need?

More from Whitey Herzog's 1999 You're Missin' a Great Game:

One day, an old buddy of mine, Herb Fox, and I took Jack Clark out on the back lake at Herbie's farm. It's a seventy-acre strip-mining pit, and the three of us were out in a fifteen-foot bass boat early in the morning. We caught a little bluegill and bass and talked some baseball, some hunting, some fishing. It's a real pretty spot, nice and quiet with the sun rising up over the cattails.

Well, Jack must have had a fine day, because next afternoon at the ballpark, he comes up to me, all worked up, and tells me he's bought himself a new boat. I thought that was wonderful. "A new boat? I'll be damned, Jack. What kind you get?" I said.

"The number-one boat. It's a Ranger. A twenty-two-foot wide-body!"

"Twenty-two foot?! How big an engine?"

"It's 200 horse!"

Nobody on a strip pit ever needed that kind of power, so I'm already starting to laugh. "Two hundred horse? What the hell you gonna do with all that?" Jack looks at me with those killer black eyes and says, "I like speed."

God almighty: He likes speed! Well, I don't blame him; if you ever saw any of my ballclubs, you know I like it, too. But that still didn't tell me what he was going to do with a motor the size of Fenway Park.

Our next day off, Herbie and I are out on the lake again, sitting there in the calm waiting for some nibbles. I'm fishing topwater with my trusty White Rat lure; Herbie's going down deep. It's early in the morning, nice and quiet, the mist rising up silent and pretty like it does around dawn. Next thing you know, here comes Jack, with his wife and two kids and his new boat trailing behind his Chevy Suburban, right over the hill. I mean to tell you, that was a hell of a rig! They were making more racket than a sellout at the Homerdome. And Jack plops that monster in the water and fires up the engine, all 200 horse, and revs the hell out of it. I'm telling you, stuff was flying -- water, weeds, old car tires, maybe even a few large-mouths too. He turned the lake over. Later on, when he's done, he backs the Suburban up to the edge, and the boat's so big he can't get the damn thing out of the water. It was a sight!

Well, no question about it: That boat was a beauty. But you have to ask yourself a question: How big a rig do you need? On Herbie's back lake, where a johnboat, two hooks, and a couple of hours will fetch you a good lunch, all that extra juice is just going going to stir up the neighbors and scare the fish away. Power's great, but without proportion, it won't help you a bit.

That's a perfect description of modern baseball.

Tags: Baseball, Whitey Herzog

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 19, 2008: Pulling Down Those Late Games from the Coast

From Whitey Herzog's 1999 You're Missin' a Great Game:

Money's altered my life and my family's. Mary Lou and I lived in a trailer for five years, driving it from one baseball stop to the next and hauling our kids with us. I never made more than $18,000 a year as a player, which was what the Detroit Tigers paid me in 1963, my last season on the field. I was fine that way; I enjoyed that mobile home damn near as much as the nice brick house and pool we've got in St. Louis today. As long as I've got my rods and lures, a car to get around in, and maybe a satellite dish to pull down those late games from the coast, I'm one hell of a happy rat.

Tags: Baseball, Whitey Herzog

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Basement Nerds vs. Dinosaur Newspaper Cretins

The Portland Tribune's Dwight Jaynes wrote a fine column earlier this month addressing the inherent problems with beat reporters and the well publicized newspaper writers vs. bloggers war. I've paid some attention to the infamous Buzz Bissinger/Will Leitch (Deadspin) debate, but I'm largely a spectator on this issue. I don't feel any special affinity for bloggers because deep down I have to admit I enjoy the stereotype of them "typing from their mother's basement." If it knocks the snarky-ness level down a few pegs, then I'm all for keeping that amusing image going. On the other hand, the dinosaur newspaper cretins who can't accept change for the better and insist on upholding the fallacy of the innocent past are probably even more annoying than the vengeful basement nerds. If you don't really understand what blogging is and how it can be beneficial to readers, you should probably just shut the hell up lest Job 38:2 be invoked: "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge."

You see, it's been a battle of extremists on both ends, and, as such, is ultimately more noxious than interesting. That said, Jaynes column is notable for its balance and hits on some interest points, especially regarding the conundrum of beat writers:

After all, how can those bloggers – with no inside sources, no background and no journalism training, in many cases – have as much credibility as trained and experienced journalists? Who would even bother listening to those yahoos?

Well, I’ll tell you what I think. And I’ll also explain how it’s led me to alter my approach to the way I do my job as a columnist, pushing me away from a philosophy I held dear for decades in this business. I changed, though, because the bloggers have taught me a lesson.

My guideline for years was that, as a beat reporter or a columnist, I would get to know my sources as best I could. I would be there constantly, in their face. I always felt I was impartial enough to write the truth no matter what. And my core values included being there the day after I wrote something negative about someone I covered – so they’d have their shot at me, their fair chance to confront me.

But along the way, at some point, the whole thing kind of went south. The problem with all that, I’ve come to realize, is that I got too close to the people I covered.

In the case of a beat reporter, you almost have to have a degree of that in order to come up with the constant flood of stories you need if you’re covering a beat like the Trail Blazers.

Over time, you realize that in spite of all your attempts to know athletes and public figures, what you usually end up writing about them is the cover story – the half-true piece of semifiction that those people want the public to see. You begin to realize you’re usually getting played. And you sold your soul to get it.

Oh, when you get close to sources, you get access. You get inside information. At least you think you do. You get close enough to players and coaches that it’s a fan’s dream. Sources become something very close to friends, and, I confess, I’ve been down that road.

But I also know that when that happens, you’re probably not going to do your job as well as you should. Yes, I’m old school, and I think it’s the job of a columnist or a beat reporter to always tell the truth and be critical when merited, even about the revered home team.

But if you’re critical, you risk your access. Forget about the friendships – you often lose your sources if you offend them.

In the past few years, my job as editor of this paper has kept me from having the time to get the sort of access I used to have with a lot of athletes and coaches. Lately, I don’t have time to schmooz them at shootarounds and after practice. I can’t get on the phone and shoot the breeze with them.

Once in a while, it costs me a story. But you know what? As a columnist, I don’t feel I need their information or their admiration. And I certainly don’t need to worry about making them happy.

I think I’m very fair to them. Some sources respect that fairness, and others would rather just own a piece of you.

I’m still accountable. The coaches and players know where to find me –as one did last season when he had a problem with something I wrote. I met with him for more than an hour and presented my side and listened to his.

He convinced me of a few things, and I didn’t buy into some other things. I stand ready to be critical again if I think it’s merited.

The point to all this is simple. What I’ve done, I think, is become a blogger in columnist’s clothing. The secret to the blogosphere is that bloggers usually don’t have that proximity to coaches and athletes. They aren’t hindered by a need to get along or kiss up to the people they write about. That affords them a certain freedom they can use or abuse.

Don’t get me wrong – those trained, experienced journalists are still the backbone of this business and they shouldn’t be insecure about their role. The mavericks out there blogging provide a welcome supplement to their work.

Like the mainstream media, bloggers usually search for some version of the truth. Some are good at it. Some are not. On the whole, the best of them serve up fresh, creative, unvarnished, unrestricted and entertaining thoughts about the issues of the day.

I think that’s what columnists are supposed to do, too. If we do it the right way, we’re really not all that different.

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Quote of the Day | June 18, 2008: I Can Show You How to Ruin Your Life

From Neal Karlen's 1999 paean to the independent leagues, Slouching Toward Fargo: A Two-Year Saga of Sinners and St. Paul Saints at the Bottom of the Bush Leagues with Bill Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Dakota Sadie and Me.

Tom Whaley had started working with the Saints from the beginning, throwing away his own private law practice to help run the carny. True, he also played guitar in the popular local rock band Tarwater and could talk for hours about Kurt Cobain or Bob Dylan or the future of rock & roll. But he was also a master of disguise who could go from scruffy-looking ticket ripper to a shaven, suit-and-tied lawyer with horn-rim glasses, a wife, and two small children within minutes. Like all Saints employees, he was supposed to do everything: that year the team attorney had even been charged at the last second with the important task of finding the St. Bernard that Bill Murray would ride onto the field while doing his imitation of the loathsome Marge Schott. Whaley found one, just in time.

"Like I said, we were all misfits," Whaley said during the off-season. "I was dying to get out of my regular litigation practice, so when I heard St. Paul was getting a minor league baseball team, I wrote Mike [Veeck] a letter out of the blue." He also purchased a piece of lutefisk, the disgusting-tasting salted fish that is one of the symbols of Scandinavian Minnesota.

"I got some frozen lutefisk," Whaley recalls, "wrote my resume on the back of it, and sent it off to Mike with a letter saying, 'This is what people in Minnesota eat.' I knew it was risky and absurd, but I had to take the chance. My dad had a stroke at fifty-four; he was a successful lawyer and, boom, he went down. That killed me and was the reason I wanted to work here. I realized there was no tomorrow, and if you wait around to chase your dream, it ain't going to happen. Do it now or hold your peace."

Magically, Mike wrote Whaley back, "I hate attorneys," Mike wrote, "but you seem like a Renaissance attorney, which intrigues me. We've got a thing going in the Northern League, so call me and I can show you how to ruin your life."

Tags: Neal Karlen, Slouching Toward Fargo, Baseball

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 17, 2008: I Wish I Had Written This Book Thirty Years Earlier

From Tim Russert's 2006 Wisdom of Our Fathers:

I always go to [my father's home] for Thanksgiving, and in 2004, a few months after the book came out, we were loading up the car to drive to the airport when Big Russ came over to me to say goodbye. For as long as I can remember, Dad and I had always parted with a handshake and a half hug. But this time he gave me a huge bear hug and he said softly, "I love you" – something I had never heard him say before. I was fifty four years old, and all I could think was, Boy, I wish I had written this book thirty years earlier.

Tags: Tim Russert, Wisdom of Our Fathers

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Peter Gammons on Tim Russert and Journalism

I just read Peter Gammons' column from this past weekend on remembering Tim Russert and the promise of fair and reasoned journalism. It's an excellent read:

Russert was a study for all of us who dabble in journalism, and I think it was Pat Buchanan who paid him the supreme compliment by saying that he never really knew Russert's political beliefs. Russert loved what he covered, and he loved people, and for those of us who believe that we have the right to like our subjects but do not have the right to dislike any of them, he defined fairness. He didn't scream. He didn't interrupt. He allowed those people he interviewed to speak their minds, and then he asked the appropriate questions, and he did so with respect and dignity, and knew too much to argue or to judge. Somehow he let his subjects know that this was all professional, neither personal nor agenda driven.

In the complex mediasphere today, we have commentators who believe there is nothing human about those who play games or make decisions. We have electronic and print shock jocks who revel in the misanthropic, passing judgment on men like Milton Bradley without any knowledge about them. Tim Russert never made himself the story; he knew his subjects were the story, and because he took so much joy in listening to those subjects -- such a phenomenal interview last month with Barbara Walters -- he allowed us to open the door to their lives and minds.

We don't need shrieking "opinions" or ridicule or self-promoting shtick; we need more of what Tim Russert brought to journalism and our business. We don't need "gotcha" television or point-counterpoint on Michael Vick or Barack Obama's former minister.

Russert knew where the bodies were buried -- he knew people -- and he knew few of us have to be reminded of our failures; we have not forgotten them. I'm proud to know Milton Bradley; when I was sick two years ago, his e-mail messages were thoughtful, often brilliant, emotional, sincere.

Russert would have wanted to know who Milton Bradley really is, and how hard he fights the demons inside himself, how much respect he carries among teammates.

All of us should go to the videotape and understand why George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Cheney and Tom Daschle and almost everyone respected him. It's all right to be fair and reasoned. It's all right to listen to President Bush, not lecture him. It's all right to like the people who run our country and to try to understand how they think; someone once accused George Will of knowing his subjects, to which Will replied, "we should know and understand why politicians think and do what they think and do."

Opinions have become termites. Those who actually make decisions and are entrusted with decisions know that backseat drivers don't know the feel of the wheel but they sure know how to fuss, and Russert allowed us to ask why the driver took the right fork in the woods.

We all learned a lot from the man. I know Ryan Zimmerman made him a very happy man when he hit his walkoff home run on Opening Night, but then, Tim Russert was happy just being there.

One of our regular readers here has started an online petition to honor the memory of Buffalo's favorite son, Tim Russert. If you're interested in seeing him added to the Buffao Bills Walls of Fame, you can sign that petition right here.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Luke Russert Recalls Father Tim

Wow! Fifteen minutes is an awfully long time to spend engrossed in an internet video, but this Today Show interview with Tim Russert's son Luke is well worth it. I'm simply staggered that a 22-year-old could show that much composure and a willingness to share and expound just days after his father's unexpected death. Not just that he didn't break down, or that he was so willing to answer the questions, but the ability to take a simple question and run with it, to share amusing and endearing stories about his father, to put everything into such a clear perspective, and to basically take control of the interview at his age. At risk of maudlin hyperbole, I'd say that 15 minutes just made me feel a little bit better about being human today.

Needless to say, we haven't see the last of Luke Russert -- there's no way he's not rising to the top in some profession or another.

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Quote of the Day | June 16, 2008: His Gift for Living Out His Dreams

Mid-June, summer is bearing down, and it's well past time to cease tilting at windmills and just let Ken Griffey Jr be. He's earned as much . . . and maybe it's not too late to start catching up to the fastball again, maybe it's not too late to put time's passage at bay for a few months. From Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes:

In late September Frank Gifford once again began to engage me. Having dropped his pugnacity by admitting that "it" -- on his back on a stretcher -- "had been a hard way to go out," he had the year before come out of retirement; after a year's layoff spent nursing his concussion, he had had a better year than anyone had a right to expect, a season which had encouraged him to play still another.

When it came time for him to leave finally, if not to the adulatory roar of the crowd, I was sure he wanted to walk out of the stadium with his legs under him and his wits functioning. In the same way that I yearned to be able to go from this place without rage, he wanted to go out without the bitter memory of that Bednarik tackle. He was thirty-three now; at times his speed and his timing seemed unreservedly gone; and watching him I began to wonder if it weren't his destiny to go out on his back, more remembered for having been the victim of that Tartarian tackle than for anything else. Because he was so ungraciously trying to negate time's passing, I couldn't feel all that distressed for him. What did distress and send me back to him with a passion was the glibness with which fans dismissed him.

As the season got into its third and fourth weeks, from down the bar I heard strangers in what came to be a continual conversation about the Giants, and whenver Gifford's name came up, I immediately heard, spoken with disarming and chilling certainty, "He's had it!" Had I known any of the men and had they not been such rugged-looking bastards, fishing guides and farmers and construction workers, I would have turned to them and snapped, "Aw, for Christ's sake, let him be. He wants to go out like a man!" I'm sorry now I hadn't the guts to say as much.

The following Sunday, weaving full speed down the middle of the field, Gifford reached back between the two defenders flanking him, even as he was losing his balance took a Tittle pass over his left shoulder, toppled furiously over in a forward somersault, and ended flat on his back in the end zone, the ball still clutched precariously to his stomach. It was an artful, an astounding, a humbling catch; and I can't say whether it or the studied avoidance of his name at the bar the next week pleased me more.

Hunched up on the edge of one of the apartment's leather chairs, I watched him intently from that week on. The story became somewhat absurd. Week after week he made one after another catch more incredible than its predecessor; and in the final week of the season he made that one-handed catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers which gave the Giants their divisional title and sent them into the NFL championship game. I laughed with glee. Oh, how I laughed and jumped up and down, exclaiming, "Oh, good, Frank! Good! Very good indeed! I mean, swell! Really swell!"

One had to hand it to the guy, his gift for living out his dreams. As much as for any other reason, I was jubilant because of the irony. By that time my own naive dream of coming to terms with home had already gone sour.

Tags: A Fan's Notes, Frederick Exley, Frank Gifford

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quote of the Day | June 15, 2008: What Foul Dust Floated in the Wake of His Dreams

From the beginning of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby:

And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes but after a certain point I don't care what it's founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.

Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction -- Gatsy, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament" -- it was an extraordinary gift of hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.

No -- Gatsby turned out all right in the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.

Tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Quarterback Rankings: June 14, 2008


[100] Peyton Manning IND 32.5 - With Clark re-signed and Gonzalez ready to step up if Marvin doesn't snap back, Manning's consistency trumps Brady's career year
[99] Tom Brady NE 31.1 - Remains the NFL's best QB; Moss' return guarantees another great season, but Brady is not going to hit 50 TDs again
[95] Ben Roethlisberger PIT 26.5 - Easily the 3rd best QB in the NFL and may bypass one of the Big Two in the next couple of years
[94] Tony Romo DAL 28.4 - Will move up if DAL brings in a talented WR; two straight disappointing playoff performances and an over-reliance on T.O. leave room for doubt about level of future dominance

[89] Carson Palmer CIN 28.7 - Can he bounce all the way back from an extremely disappointing season? He and Chad are bickering while talented thug Chris Henry is banished.
[88] Drew Brees NO 29.6 - Should be good for a consistent 4,000 yards and 25-30 TDs every year for the next few years, but what's with the Saints re-signing their own dreck at WR & TE the past couple of weeks?
[82] Donovan McNabb PHI 31.7 - I've seen guys like Eli Manning & Phil Rivers ranked ahead of him, in which case McNabb is the ideal buy low candidate for dynasty leaguers
[81] Jay Cutler DEN 25.3 - Impressive YPA & completion numbers bode very well for future; addition of Clady plus D-Jax and 2nd rounder Eddie Royal help to steady value.

[64] Vince Young TEN 25.3 - Deserved a better fate last season after seeing a freakish number of TDs called back due to penalty, drops by a lousy receiving crew, or poor route running/miscommunication. Still has plenty of upside and the possibility of a true break-out season if the light flips on with improved weaponry
[63] David Garrard JAX 30.5 - A much better QB than commonly believed, but he's not likely to surpass last year's passing quality. If the running game slips from true dominance, does Garrard's production see an uptick from the increased attempts or do the passing lanes start to close with the defense no longer selling out against the run?
[62] Derek Anderson CLE 25.2 - A window to make his mark as the Browns' franchise QB with the addition of Stallworth as a #3 weapon behind Edwards & Winslow; slightly worrisome is that Anderson's 2009 bonus could essentially make his new contract a one-year deal if he doesn't play up to expectations
[62] Matt Schaub HOU 27.2 - He's going to have to stay healthy for all 16 games to shake the injury concerns, but there's a lot to like here. The YPA & completion percentage were very promising, so he just needs to find Johnson & Daniels in the end zone more often to take the next step to reliable #1 as opposed to an aspiring Bulger
[61] Marc Bulger STL 31.4 - Al Saunders and an improved O-Line could bring production back in line with career norms, but don't expect many TDs; deteriorating receiving crew is worrisome.
[60] Eli Manning NYG 27.6 - The 64,000 Question: Did the epiphany occur in the last 6 weeks, or was it simply the flip-side of an inconsistent QB hitting a hot streak? I believe the latter, and I can't see how even a true believer can feel comfortable relying on a streaky, inconsistent Eli as a QB1 going forward
[58] #Philip Rivers SD 26.8 - Good news and bad news: The good news is that Rivers finally delivered consistently under pressure once the playoffs started. The bad news is that he showed flashes of David Carr happy feet and lack of arm strength during the season. Even worse, the ACL injury he suffered happened later in the season than Daunte Culpepper's, Carson Palmer's, and Donovan McNabb's . . . all of whom were much better QBs and struggled considerably in their first season back from injury. Why would we expect Rivers to do anything but disappoint in '08?

[50] Matt Hasselbeck SEA 33.0 - Who is he going to be throwing to this year? With the Seahawks making an effort to upgrade the running game, he can't count on abnormally high passing attempt numbers again; I'm staying far away from Hass this season.
[46] Matt Leinart ARI 25.3 - High risk, high reward; after Warner's performance, there's going to be pressure to perform well right from the start. But if he does, he could easily see a 25 TD, 3700 yard season.
[45] Aaron Rodgers GB 24.8 - Legit concern that he's been injury-prone in limited duty, but the pieces are already in place for him to succeed; just as importantly, he has both his coach and his GM glowing about his vast improvement over the past year. Brohm's addition means pressure on Rodgers to stay healthy and productive in his first season as starter.
[39] JaMarcus Russell OAK 23.1 - Top of the line arm, perfect size, prodigious talent, but the footwork was an absolute mess and questions persist about his decision making; his career could go either way, and unfortunately, Oakland isn't exactly the ideal proving ground for a developing QB right now
[38] Jason Campbell WAS 26.6 - It would be foolish not to count on an adjustment period to the West Coast Offense and a new coaching staff; I think we've all seen him look very poised at times and extremely underwhelming at other times, so it will be interesting to watch his growth throughout '08. Remember the Losman/Grossman Effect: young QBs don't always get better

[31] Brady Quinn CLE 23.9 - Derek Anderson's $5M bonus before next season basically makes the 2-QB system a one year experiment. Quinn could definitely exploit an opening if Anderson doesn't show himself to be the Browns franchise QB in '08. The future is uncertain, but one of the two Browns QBs is likely to be starting elsewhere next season
[30] Matt Ryan ATL 23.3® - Early signing could be an indication the team wants him to start from the get-go, but he'll be doing it behind a woeful offensive line.
[28] Trent Edwards BUF 24.9 - Positive marks for poise, smarts, and an ability to lead an offense, but he needs to take a major step forward in playmaking and consistency; an upgrade in weapons would be nice as new OC Schonert plans to open up the passing game
[27] #Jake Delhomme CAR 33.6 - Would make for the ideal throw-in on a larger deal if you believe he'll fully recover from Tommy John surgery; job security issues damage his long-term dynasty value, but he could recoup quite a bit of value in '08 with a more explosive offense featuring the always special Steve Smith plus the move to DeAngelo Williams at RB, and the additions of D.J. Hackett & Muhsin Muhammad
[26] Tarvaris Jackson MIN 25.4 - If---big IF---Tarvaris can put it together, Berrian and a more experienced Sidney Rice offer
some intriguing potential. I just can't get over the fact that he's the exact opposite of what the current Vikings franchise needs in a QB

[18] Brian Brohm GB 22.9®
[17] Drew Stanton DET 24.4 - Jon Kitna will be on a much shorter leash, so expect Stanton to get a chance at some point in '08; if Calvin Johnson & Roy Williams remain in DET, Stanton makes for a very intriguing high upside pet project
[17] Kellen Clemens NYJ 25.3 - With a revamped O-Line and a more friendly running game, Clemens will be better able to get the ball to Coles, Cotchery, & Keller, but he's going to have to beat out Pennington first.
[16] Joe Flacco BAL 23.7®
[15] Kevin Kolb PHI 24.0 - The new Matt Schaub? The new Aaron Rodgers? Either way, his value likely depends substantially on your league's roster size. He's a very nice stash as long as you realize he's a roster ornament for at least another year. Hope for one of the following: in-season injury to McNabb, a post-2008 McNabb trade, or Kolb becomes the new Schaub-like savior for a QB desperate franchise
[14] Alex Smith SF 24.3 - Two of his three NFL seasons have produced historically bad performances. I don't think he beats Shaun Hill in a fair competition, but the 49ers have a lot invested here
[13] Chad Henne MIA 23.2®
[11] Jon Kitna DET 36.0 - Still has a window on '08 value with playmakers Calvin Johnson & Roy Williams, but his margin for
error is razor-thin with Stanton waiting in the wings . . . and Kitna is never a strong bet to defeat his margin of error

[10] Josh Johnson TB 22.4®
[10] Kurt Warner ARI 37.3 - Time to start the handcuffing strategy with Arizona QBs? Simply put, he needs Leinart to fall on his face in the pre-season. Warner threw up valuable fantasy numbers the last 12 games of '07 and can do it again if given the opportunity.

[8] John Beck MIA 27.1 - Thoroughly unimpressive in a 4-game rookie trial. It remains to be seen if he'll be given the reigns to start '08, but either way there's not going to be much of a grace period
[7] Shaun Hill SF 28.7 - More of a game-manager type than Martz' previous QBs, but he does offer athleticism, a quick release, and the ability to lead an offense. There's some upside here, and if he beats out Alex Smith for the starting job, the whole 49er offense should receive a boost in value
[6] Matt Moore CAR 24.1 - Looked decent in late season action . . . certainly better than any CAR backups of the past two seasons
[5] Brodie Croyle KC 25.5 - If Grossman is odious, then Croyle is, of course, appallingly bad. The Chiefs are seriously deluded if he starts week one.
[4] John David Booty MIN 23.7®
[4] Sage Rosenfels HOU 30.5 - The Practically Perfect Backup QB could pick up some value if traded to MIN, but will certainly drop a tier if he remains in Houston
[3] Jeff Garcia TB 38.5 - He's a better NFL than fantasy QB at this stage of his career and a poor bet at age 38 to stay as healthy and productive as last season.
[3] Luke McCown TB 27.2 - The better of the Passing McCown Brothers has flashed some interesting ability in small doses. Would have to beat out Griese to get on the field this season, but this McCown could conceivably have a future as a starter down the road
[3] Chad Pennington NYJ 32.2 - Losing the early battle with Clemens so far.
[3] Troy Smith BAL 24.2 - Not ready yet to help an offense put up consistent points, but he has shown impressive field general abilities. Still raw, but may get a shot to sink or swim with McNair retiring
[3] Kyle Orton CHI 25.8 - Plucky. That's it. That's the list. OK, neckbeard. That's on the list too. Woe are the Bears.
[3] J.P. Losman BUF 27.5 - Free agent after 2008 season.
[3] Daunte Culpepper UFA 31.6 - The opportunity isn't likely to be forthcoming (nor should it be), but Culpepper makes for a nice high-upside, albeit longshot, stash. Better to carry a longshot with high upside than a player you will never use even if he does get an opportunity to play.
[3] Rex Grossman CHI 28.0 - Come on. He's simply odious. Before last season, I called him a "turnover prone, inconsistent, inaccurate headcase." I was feeling nice that day.

[2] Andre Woodson NYG 24.4®
[2] Dennis Dixon PIT 23.7®
[2] Kevin O'Connell NE 23.5®
[2] *Michael Vick ATL [x] 28.2 - How large is your roster?
[2] Seneca Wallace SEA 28.1 - Could put up interesting fantasy numbers if ever given a shot at regular playing time
[2] Tyler Thigpen KC 24.4
[2] Brian Griese TB 33.5 - Will battle Luke McCown to see who starts once Garcia gets injured
[2] Colt Brennan WAS 25.0®
[2] Billy Volek SD 32.4 - Fantasy leaguers keep insisting that he must be passing up better opportunities elsewhere; but what are the chances NFL GMs are as fond of his game as fantasy owners are?
[2] Trent Green STL 38.2 - Decent shot at Kurt Warner-like startable value if Bulger goes down, but keep in mind any value would be of the fleeting variety

[1] Byron Leftwich UFA 28.6
[1] Chris Simms TB [x] 28.0
[1] Chris Redman ATL 31.2 - Upside is band-aid for a year, but Ryan's quick signing could signal the team's willingness to throw him into the fire right from the get-go.
[1] Kyle Boller BAL 27.3 - Has failed and failed again to generate offense. Poor man's Rex Grossman lacks the headcase nature but also the playmaking ability
[1] Damon Huard KC [T] 35.2 - He's no great shakes, but he's a hell of a lot better than Brodie Croyle; with the Chiefs far from contending mode, Huard is stuck in No Man's Land.
[1] Cleo Lemon JAX 29.1
[1] Todd Collins WAS 36.8
[1] Erik Ainge NYJ 22.3®
[1] Josh McCown MIA 29.2
[1] Patrick Ramsey DEN 29.5
[1] Charlie Whitehurst SD 26.1
[1] A.J. Feeley PHI 31.3
[1] Charlie Frye SEA 27.0
[1] Matt Flynn GB 23.3®
[1] J.T. O'Sullivan SF 29.0
[1] Gus Frerotte MIN 37.2
[1] Kerry Collins TEN 35.7
[1] Andrew Walter OAK 26.3
[1] Jim Sorgi IND 27.8
[1] Dan Orlovsky DET 25.1
[1] Ryan Fitzpatrick CIN 25.8
[1] D.J. Shockley ATL 25.5
[1] Matt Cassel NE [x] 26.3
[1] Joey Harrington ATL 29.9
[1] Bruce Gradkowski STL 25.7
[1] Quinn Gray UFA 29.3
[1] David Carr NYG 29.1

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