Make It Happen

The shadow of your smile

When you have gone

Will color all my dreams

And light the dawn

 

Look into my eyes my love, and see

All the lovely things, you are, to me

 

Our wistful little star

It was far, too high

A teardrop kissed your lips

And so, so did I

 

Now when I remember spring

And every little lovely thing

I will be remembering

The shadow of your smile

Your lovely smile

Some dear friends of mine are quite disconsolate over the chance that the New York Mets Apple won’t be making the trip from Shea to the new stadium. They’ve taken their pleas to the streets, in the form of an online petition, over at www.savetheapple.com and all Mets fans who have ever exulted at the majestic sight of the apple rising from it’s top hat should head over there immediately.

While it can be correctly pointed out that I have no affection for the Mets, I do care greatly for the preservation of certain traditions. This trait has been ingrained upon me from years of going to Wrigley Field. I understand the need for new stadiums, especially one as woeful as Shea. But there are certain aspects of every ballpark that are dear to the hometown faithful. Some of these (Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers) can’t be held forever, but the apple can be transferred. It’s delighted fans young and old and I don’t understand why there is even a sliver of doubt about it’s survival. I’d go on, but the case is made far better at SaveTheApple. One day the apple will fall, but it will not be this day! Today the fight begins!

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Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 4:25 pm  Comments (1)  

still more averaged experts rankings: team defense edition!

lt

Team defenses. This position frustrates me. The scoring systems always seem off, they have a seemingly disproportionate effect on the outcome of your matchups, and a single defense will wildly fluctuate from week to week in points scored with seemingly little change in their play. It’s not impossible to predict some of these factors, but I usually end up picking a solid defense, in reality, that I will have replaced a quarter through the season with the free agency pool. Maybe, I’m just bad at picking. Maybe, there’s a grand conspiracy against me. Then again, perhaps typing this post in a public place is making me a tad paranoid. Sorry, back to football.

I had to replace one of my sources for this list and the upcoming kicker list because the good folks at fantasyfootballxtreme.com apparently only draft players on offense. It’s possible that I just couldn’t find the link. I also added walterfootball.com because it came up on the first page of a google search for fantasy football rankings, which is good enough credentials for my highly scientific study. At any rate, the list follows the same basic guidelines as before: standard deviation follows mean rank follows team name, standard deviation is a measure of how closely the experts agreed, and my qualitative analysis and statistical expertise both come with strong disclaimers. Away we go.

wilcox

1. Chicago 1.37 0.49
2. Baltimore 1.77 0.60

3. San Diego 3.64 0.82
4. New England 4.06 1.86

5. Miami 8.08 5.11
6. Denver 8.35 2.85
7. Dallas 8.95 2.38
8. Philadelphia 9.12 2.33
9. Pittsburgh 9.15 3.29

10. Carolina 10.68 3.45
11. Jacksonville 10.75 6.50

12. Seattle 13.83 2.15
13. Minnesota 14.00 5.40
14. Green Bay 14.23 5.17

bobby bell

15. Oakland 17.14 3.68
16. San Francisco 17.17 4.28
17. Buffalo 18.18 3.60
18. New York Jets 18.98 4.59

19. Arizona 20.04 6.16
20. New York Giants 20.79 4.88
21. Cincinnati 20.83 7.32
22. Indianapolis 20.92 5.05
23. Atlanta 21.61 6.47
24. Kansas City 21.94 4.72

25. St. Louis 23.40 6.46
26. Tampa Bay 23.90 5.70
27. New Orleans 24.21 2.86
28. Tennessee 25.42 6.83
29. Cleveland 26.75 4.67
30. Washington 26.82 4.68

31. Detroit 29.40 2.34
32. Houston 29.90 1.58

lambert

This number one pick is the first out of these lists with which I find flaw. I’m not bashing Chicago. They have a great defense, easily the best in the NFC and San Diego is a distant third overall. However, Baltimore gets the edge from me. My basis for this assessment is not based on any actual analysis on my part. Rather, I think Chicago is getting a boost here from their super bowl run last season and probably inappropriate comparisons with Bears teams of yore. Furthermore, I have little confidence in the ability of their offense to eat up any significant amount of time. Of course, this criticism can be leveled at Baltimore as well. Perhaps, most significantly, Baltimore just seems like a safer choice. The difference is minimal, and I won’t end up drafting either team, as there will be two opposing managers who value defense more than me. I have a nagging feeling that I should be one of those two managers who grabs a defense seemingly far too early, but I must quell these worries and trust in the analysis of others.

singletary

Continuing down the list, Miami is the next pick that makes me uncomfortable. I’ve been burned by Miami’s defense. It’s hard to work up the nerve to trust again. It seems that some experts share my pain as there was marked disagreement in the rankings. On a sidenote, you should mark the huge gap in mean rank between New England and Miami. If ever a clear tier break existed, it’s right there. New England and Miami are not ranked close to each other, despite going four and five.

The rest of the list steadily loses credibility. The experts just didn’t agree. Cincinnati was ranked from 10th to 28th, so use the second half of this list with extreme caution. Hell, you should apply extreme caution to the use of any of these rankings. Most of the websites make no effort to explain their rankings or even scoring systems. I’m attempting to remember enough statistics to come up with some sort of credibility score. Of course, that might also be nonsense.

walsh

R.I.P Bill Walsh

Published in: on July 30, 2007 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

ever more averaged experts rankings: te edition!

ozzie newsome

The averaged experts rankings train chugs on. Today, we bring you the tight end list. I should probably do this one last, as I usually use the te spot as my trash position. There will always be managers who draft the top two or three te’s foolishly high, and the rest of the te’s are just too much of a gamble for me to really care. I like having a middling reliable te, and you can almost always get one just before you start picking bench players. No one in their right mind drafts a backup te outside of late bench rounds, anyway, so there’s no reason that a top ten te won’t be available at an appropriate point in a 8-12 team draft. Maybe, if you’re in a league with a huge bench and few active roster spots or a 16+ team league (if so, please invite me), this list will be helpful. Otherwise, you can probably ignore the post and look forward to team defenses and kickers coming soon, or just use it to pick up a late round bargain backup te. In any event, my methodology is the same here as it was for my previous lists. As always, standard deviation follows mean rank (now in bold!) follows name and dubious tiers are plentiful. And away we go.

winslow

1. Gates 1.00 0.00

2. Gonzalez 2.48 1.16

3. Shockey 3.36 0.81
4. Heap 3.98 1.15

5. Crumpler 5.00 1.21

6. Cooley 6.92 1.16
7. Winslow 7.00 1.65
8. V. Davis 7.36 2.18

9. LJ Smith 9.79 1.27
10. Witten 9.96 1.29
11. B. Watson 10.46 1.23

12. Da. Clark 12.94 1.27
13. McMichael 13.17 4.20
14. H. Miller 13.46 2.13

15. Daniels 16.40 2.85
16. Scheffler 17.78 2.88
17. Graham 18.86 2.82
18. E. Johnson 19.75 4.27
19. Olsen 19.96 4.01

20. De. Clark 21.17 4.57
21. Troupe 21.50 2.84
22. Martin 22.03 3.95
23. Pollard 22.29 3.51
24. Scaife 23.19 4.45
25. Z. Miller 24.59 7.21
26. Baker 25.00 3.26
27. M. Lewis 25.91 8.49

28. J. Stevens 28.00 5.04†
29. A. Smith 28.00 3.37*†
30. Royal 29.20 1.10*

casper

*These last two entries went unranked by too many of my sources for me to give them my full support. If anyone knows enough about statistics to know how to account for partial lists in this sort of averaging, I will bequeath to you a nonessential organ of your choosing in return for some help.
†I should give this tie to Smith based on my earlier risk averse use of the lower standard deviation as a tie breaker, but as you can read just above this, Smith’s rank is too shaky to give it to him.

The early tiers are, admittedly, fairly useless. My only issue the top five picks is Shockey. He’s overrated, doesn’t always play and seems like an ass. I would not pick him over Heap, and I might not pick him over Crumpler. That said, I will never have to make that decision because idiots will grab him far above his deserved place in the draft. I would like to end up with Vernon Davis. He would give me a solid 49er to fulfill the necessary support that comes with fanhood. After these picks, the list got increasingly crazy. A fair number of websites only rank about 30-35 te’s. Luckily, they don’t get too crazy. I thought that the standard deviations were surprisingly low for the upper half of the list. There just wasn’t a lot of disagreement among the experts. Actually, Vernon Davis was the only guy who engendered serious disagreement in the top twelve or so, but even that was probably due to confidence in Alex Smith and the niners offense. It makes sense in that tight ends are generally reliable and get short yardage and some touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the agreement among experts coupled with my overall lack of interest in the position gives way to rather scant comments from yours truly. Of the players who did not make the list, the following list at least made most lists: Shiancoe, Pope, Dan Campbell, Wrighster, Wilcox and Heiden. I can’t really imagine being in a situation where it made sense to draft one of them. Of course, those in very large leagues may feel differently.

brent jones

Draft well and good luck.

Note: I like Brent Jones. I’m not saying he’s as good as Winslow, Casper or Newsome.

Published in: on July 27, 2007 at 5:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

even more averaged expert rankings: wr edition!

cat fantasy football

As these averaged expert rankings posts continue, I have less and less to color commentary to provide on the picks. If you read these posts, please, please comment. My own lack of energy for color commentary during the preseason must be made up for somehow. I think we are all looking forward to more in-depth analysis from the good doctor funkypants. This averaged expert rankings list covers wide receivers, although the title may have fooled you. Wide receiver is generally the position that is easiest to exploit in the draft, at least for me. The managers in my leagues tend to throw around wr picks and go for a tight end or a kicker before they’ve secured all of their receivers. Odd, I know. I have no idea if other people have experienced this strange phenomenon. Hopefully, this list will help you get more value out of your wr picks. Without further ado, the list! Ok, a little ado, standard deviation follows mean rank follows name, and my highly suspect tiers once again make an appearance.

1. S. Smith (CAR) 1.92 1.31
2. Ch. Johnson 2.33 1.50
3. Harrison 3.42 1.93
4. Holt 3.75 0.97

5. Owens 4.67 1.30
6. Wayne 5.58 1.24

7. Fitzgerald 7.25 2.60

8. Ro. Williams 9.25 2.18
9. Walker 10.58 1.00

10. Boldin 11.58 4.36
11. Colston 12.67 3.73
12. Houshmandzadeh 12.83 2.92
13. Driver 13.17 3.83
14. Evans 13.58 2.02
15. R. Moss 14.00 4.82
16. A. Johnson 14.33 2.96
17. Burress 15.25 2.05

18. Ward 17.58 1.44

19. S. Moss 21.42 2.87
20. D. Jackson 21.50 4.30
21. Coles 21.75 4.09
22. Brown 22.67 2.46
23. Branch 22.67 5.02

cat ball

24. Edwards 24.17 3.71
25. Chambers 25.17 3.90
26. Galloway 26.00 3.46
27. Glenn 26.75 3.31
28. Ma. Clayton 27.25 5.45
29. Cotchery 28.75 2.56

30. Ca. Johnson 30.58 8.28
31. V. Jackson 31.33 3.55
32. Berrian 31.67 2.61
33. Stallworth 32.42 5.12

34. Jennings 36.42 5.53
35. Curtis 38.17 3.95
36. Porter 38.58 4.64
37. Holmes 38.83 3.83
38. Hackett 38.83 6.21
39. Henderson 40.50 5.25
40. Horn 41.00 7.10
41. Bruce 41.67 7.80
42. M. Jones 41.75 4.81
43. Muhammad 42.00 5.88
44. Kennison 42.58 5.88

45. Mason 45.67 4.54*
46. Bennett 45.67 5.16*
47. Curry 45.82 6.74
48. Furrey 46.36 8.30
49. Marshall 48.67 5.82
50. B. Jones 49.17 8.77

*I give tied mean ranks to the player with the lower standard deviation. I roll risk averse.

cat 4

I really should have cut this list off around 40 as was the original plan, rather than go the full 50. There are a few guys who would have contended in the 40-50 range, such as Welker, who I just left off out of laziness. Some of the receivers in that range dropped out of the top 40 while I was inputing the last two or three sources. I decided to include an extra ten receivers because there were some notables, Bruce, Muhammad, Kennison, Bennett and Furrey, whose placement interested me. Also, it’s pretty clear if you look at the standard deviation numbers that this list is far more contentious than either running backs or quarterbacks. There simply aren’t a lot of receivers, besides Torry Holt, who engender widespread agreement among fantasy experts and players.

My personal feelings on this list are few and far between. I will draft one of the top four receivers, probably Harrison or Holt. In my opinion, Owens isn’t as big of a risk as some people seem to fear. I don’t necessarily trust such concepts as a three year rule for wide receivers. I have trouble believing in rules that are so generalized and based on nebulous concepts like a player’s ability to acclimate to professional football. I don’t doubt that there is some point at which players tend to reach their potential as receivers in professional football, but I’m not sure what that adds to the discussion of draft order. If the experts use it, that’s great, but I’m not going to go through and try to predict something as tenuous as a breakout years. I don’t like longshots. I like a long series of highly probable small gains or for fantasy football a team full of good players with demonstrated skill and steady improvement. I want primary receivers who are going to get yards every single game and are going to get a lot of first looks in the red zone.

packer cat
Published in: on July 24, 2007 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

more averaged expert rankings

I think the title of this post is fairly descriptive. I’m pretty much going to do the same thing for running backs (in this post) and wide receivers (in the next post) that I did for quarterbacks. This is not complex and presents little new information. On the other hand, it’s the best system that I can (or will) come up with to rank players for a fantasy draft. You can click here read my previous post for a bit more explanation if you’re interested. My framework was essentially the same. I restricted the website pool to those that had updated in the past month, which only took out a couple, and I added about.com’s expert’s ranking that I had overlooked previously. Please refer to the good Dr. Funkypants’ posts for his rankings and quite a bit more color commentary. While I will attempt to draft like a good robot, without emotion and personal bias, I do have opinions that I will include in this post.

expert

First, on the topic of my quarterback rankings. I’m not a huge fan of this year’s qb pool. Manning, Palmer, Brees, I’m happy, but the leagues I play in tend to draft quarterbacks about 2 rounds ahead of their proper place, good for getting a top notch wr crew but bad for my satisfaction with my qb. I know that you don’t need one of the big three to get sufficient production out of this roster spot, but having to start McNair last year in my two qb league was just painful. I apologize if these qb reviews sound overly cranky but damnit I just don’t like Tony fucking Romo in my top ten. Away we go. Brady is overhyped, and someone with a New England bias will probably pick him over the much more sensible Brees or Palmer. Bulger is boring to watch even in the Martz holdover system and without said system, would be significantly lower. McNabb screwed me once with his injuries, and I don’t think that anyone is willing to bet on him staying healthy all season long. Young is, well, young and still something of a question mark in my mind. I like Kitna, but shit, are we really already at Jon Kitna? I guess I would pick Hasselbeck if push came to shove, but he just isn’t going to get great numbers on the Seahawks. I’m not saying these guys suck. I just wish that I had some better options in my top ten qb list. I will have less to say about the running backs.

dogs

Here’s my quick breakdown on the top 38 running backs in fantasy football followed by some opinion. I will break it down into highly dubious tiers, as I did for the quarterbacks. Standard deviation follows mean rank follows name. If you missed my previous explanation of standard deviation, it’s best thought of as how closely the experts agreed on a player’s rank in this context.

1. Tomlinson 1.00 0.00

2. S. Jackson 2.25 0.45
3. Johnson 3.00 0.85

4. Gore 4.67 0.89
5. Alexander 4.83 1.64

6. Westbrook 6.67 1.37
7. Parker 7.08 1.51
8. Addai 7.42 1.31
9. Johnson 8.92 1.24

10. Maroney 11.25 2.42
11. Bush 11.83 2.42
12. McGahee 12.92 1.62
13. Henry 13.08 3.18
14. Brown 14.00 2.83

15. Jones-Drew 15.58 1.88
16. Portis 15.67 3.60
17. James 16.08 3.00
18. Benson 17.33 1.78
19. T. Jones 18.83 1.85
20. McAllister 19.83 3.10

fight over ball

21. Lynch 21.92 2.91*
21. Jacobs 21.92 2.91*
23. C. Williams 23.50 2.61
24. Green 25.42 3.70
25. Barber 25.92 3.87
26. Lewis 26.17 3.01

27. Peterson (MIN) 27.42 4.19
28. D. Williams 28.17 3.21
29. J. Jones 29.42 3.42
30. Dunn 29.75 2.01
31. F. Taylor 30.92 2.19

32. C. Taylor 33.25 5.07
33. Jordan 33.75 5.07
34. T. Bell 34.83 4.88
35. Norwood 34.91 2.91
36. K. Jones 35.58 4.62
37. B. Jackson 36.33 5.45
38. Betts 36.58 4.62

39. Morency 39.58 3.12
40. Foster 39.83 2.62

*Weird, a tie.

Generally speaking, the running back pool is fairly pleasing. I really like the top five. I’m a Niners fan and Gore was my sleeper pick, shining star last year, but I would still be a bit nervous about having him on my fantasy team with that high of a pick. Everyone seems to be behind him, but he’s only had one great season. I probably would take him fourth still, but I’d definitely need a few good weeks before I stopped being nervous about it. Westbrook scares me as an injury risk. Also, it’s mildly disconcerting to see his running yards before you do the math and add up his combined yardage. The rest of the top nine is good. I particularly like Rudi Johnson. I would also be quite happy with Reggie Bush in my second quarterback spot, not to say other guys around him aren’t good. He just seems like a guy who has a good chance of improving quickly in the NFL. Moving down the list, I wouldn’t fuck with Portis and I don’t wish that kind of headache on anyone. Constantly worrying whether a guy’s knee is going to blow out is not fun. I imagine it’s even less fun for him. Finally, my favorite running back not on the list is Reuben Droughns.

dog football
Published in: on July 23, 2007 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

High Sierra Serenade

I like Camp Lo. This statement isn’t something that should surprise anyone who knows me or anyone who spent much time listening to rap music in the 1997-2000 “Everything’s fine, but trouble’s coming” era of hip hop. Back then, they were just another rap group who put out a hot album then went back to the studio, with big things expected of them. Sadly, they fell victim to the malaise that claimed a lot of groups of the era, putting out a mostly forgettable followup in 2002. While I initially intended this post to be a love poem to Uptown Saturday Night, Camp Lo’s 1997 opus, inspired by the shuffle on my iPod, some internet research expanded the scope a bit. They have a new album coming out soon, and by soon, I mean next Tuesday. Produced entirely by Ski, the man behind the boards on Uptown Saturday Night, it seems deliciously like the “return to form” record that their fans have been waiting a decade for.

It’s worth noting that Camp Lo has always been a group with a fully realized sense of aesthetics. Impenetrable slang, beats drenched in blaxploitation soundtrack cool and impossibly smooth, Camp Lo stood out. Even more so today they sound like nothing else. Aesop Rock, oddly, has come to closest to co-opting their sense of lyrical rhythm, exchanging the slang for cultural references and the cool with pretension. But has anyone else put out anything even remotely similar sounding? They’re a group that basically can’t be bitten, a rare commodity in the world of rap.

The quick snippets I’ve heard from their new record, Black Hollywood, have sounded good. Nothing as inspired as Luchini, but that’s a tall standard to hold anyone up to. The first joint is streamed of allhiphop.com and is real smooth. Possibly too smooth for the hard rocks out there who demand M.O.P. levels of intensity on every jam. I think it’s a good augur for the record.

‘Ticket for 2’ [allhiphop.com]

The second joint got posted today over at Straight Bangin’ and is titled Sweet Claudine. I’m fairly certain that the sample is taken from the Claudine soundtrack, where Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded songs written and produced by Curtis Mayfield. I’ll have to pull the soundtrack out and confirm this. Their raps, at least, reference the movie explicitly, so I think it’s a safe bet. The soundtrack is excellent, featuring the smash hit ‘On and On.’ The movie itself leaves something to be desired, however. It shows it’s age, but it’s a fairly cute little film. Claudine is a single mother with six kids, all of whom are predictably wacky. One is mute, the oldest daughter gets impregnated, the oldest son joins a nondescript black nationalism group and gets a vasectomy in a show of solidarity. The film also features an extended sequence where a robust looking James Earl Jones wanders around his apartment, post-sex, his nudity barely obscured. It’s all a little odd, but I am glad I sat down and saw it. (And by that I mean, I’m glad I continued to lie on the couch at 2 am when it came on.) The song is similarly cute.

‘Sweet Claudine’ [Straight Bangin’]

There’s another track posted at spinemagazine ‘Soul Fever’ is probably my favorite. It just sounds like it should. The rapping is a little less complex than back in the day, but it’s still the Camp Lo style that can’t be found anywhere else. The link is for the mp3 file, since I’m unsure of how to link to their news.

‘Soul Fever’ [spinemagazine.com]

While I wish one of these leaked songs was classic material, they’ve sounded nice enough for me to give the album a chance. This year has had some decent releases from rappers who were thought washed up (Prodigy, Redman) and I hope Camp Lo keeps it going.

For people in NY, I also caught a mention at spinemagazine of a show their doing on Monday the 23rd at Element. Free admission! Rich Medina and Bobbito spin to open, doors at 10 pm. Although, the website mentions ominously that the dress code is strictly enforced, meaning they reserve to right to not let you in if you look like your broke ass won’t be buying any drinks. I’ve never seen them before and the prospect of seeing Luchini performed live is fairly exciting. It might just be enough to get me to actually leave my apartment for once.

Published in: on July 19, 2007 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Second Round: QB Analysis

Last week saw the beginning of Easy Mode’s preseason analysis of fantasy football. My co-author kicked off the first round properly with a look at the running back. And now, we move on to my quarterback rankings.

qb

I’m not going to write nearly as much about my rankings as I don’t have very much faith in my abilities as a football scout. There are experts out there who spend far more time than I pondering the subject of who is the fifteenth best quarterback in the NFL. There is a fairly high bar to becoming an acknowledged fantasy football expert, and while that bar may consist in part of an ability to market yourself as an expert, it is the only workable foundation I can come up with to determine a player ranking system. I would prefer to do an analysis of the past success of each expert’s picks, but that seems like a bit much work and it’s probably far too difficult to find the historical data, anyway. The next best thing to using the best expert (well, I can think of a few different methods if I had reliable data on past success rates) is to use the entire group of experts. Most people probably do something similar by employing a variety of experts’ lists, but I’ve gone ahead and averaged out the picks from a group of experts.

I picked my experts by trying to use the more popular fantasy football websites that already have QB preseason rankings up. It would be nice to employ statistical weights based on site popularity, but my lack of both motivation and knowledge of statistics once again rears its ugly head to foil my plans. So, this is just a simple averaging of eleven experts (technically, I used yahoo’s combined rankings which is the average of four experts plus public voting, I had no real reason not to use all four experts’ picks separately but that seemed like I would be favoring Yahoo unduly, whatever). I realize that a lot of people prefer close examinations of various stats and such, but like I said before I have no confidence in my ability to predict the future. Furthermore, I don’t know of any particular performance prediction method which is superior to others, and I don’t trust my ability to recognize such a method in any event.

magic

Without further ado, here are my rankings of the top 30 quarterbacks as voted by eleven experts from such websites as espn.com, cnnsi.com and sportsline.com. The average ranking is the first number after the player’s name and the standard deviation is the second. I realize this is very much amateur hour at the statistical analysis of fantasy sports table, much less the statistics table.

1. Manning 1.00 0

2. Palmer 2.55 0.82
3. Brees 3.27 1.10
4. Brady 3.82 0.98
5. Bulger 4.82 1.17

6. McNabb 6.82 2.68

7. Young 8.55 2.38
8. Kitna 8.91 2.77
9. Romo 9.64 1.86
10. Hasselbeck 9.73 1.62
11. Vick 10.64 3.20

12. Leinart 12.45 2.66
13. E. Manning 13.73* 2.83
14. Cutler 13.73* 4.43
15. Rivers 13.91 2.39

16. Roethlisberger 15.45 2.11
17. Favre 16.09 1.51

18. Smith 19.73 1.95
19. Losman 19.82 3.16
20. Grossman 20.91 3.88
21. Delhomme 21.00 1.48
22. Pennington 22.00 2.72
23. Schaub 22.09 3.45
24. McNair 22.20 2.49

25. Campbell 24.50 2.22
26. Green 25.80 2.94

27. Leftwich 27.60 2.17
28. Jackson 28.20 2.94
29. Garcia 29.20 3.89
30. Russell 30.78 2.39

*The tie for 13th place went to Eli Manning because his standard deviation was lower. One website (fantasyfootballtoday.com) ranked Cutler at 24th. I try to be risk averse in my draft picks, so I went with the safer of the two. If you don’t know what standard deviation is, my hazy recollection/wikipedia lookup definition is that it’s a measure of how closely the data points are grouped around the mean. So, a lower standard deviation means that the rankings were more closely grouped around the average ranking for that individual player.

The spacing represents some tiers that I think exist in the list, although I’m probably forcing things a bit. One thing that I can say without reservation is that every expert that I’ve come across puts Peyton at number one. The next four picks, tier 1.5, are fairly evenly spaced out. No one in the top five received a lower ranking than six. McNabb (tier 1.75) would continue the trend of evenly spaced out picks, but two websites ranked him at twelve. He’s an injury risk and maybe even a personality risk, what with the dog fighting and whatnot. Seven through eleven, tier 2, have regular spacing and not too many rankings that diverge significantly from the norm. One guy ranked Vince Young low, two guys did the same to Kitna, and Vick has the highest standard deviation of the bunch with experts either loving or hating him, relatively speaking. The next significant jump in rankings comes up number twelve with Matt Leinart. Leinart through Rivers seem to be tier 3, although I could be reading my data incorrectly here. Cutler is the biggest gamble in that group with picks ranging from 9th to 24th. Without that 24th pick, Cutler would move up a pick and be just behind Leinart. Roethlisberger and Favre are probably the entirety of tier 4. You can see the rest of the tiers just as easily as I can write them out here, so I’ll leave that to you, gentle reader. Hopefully, you don’t find yourself trying to decide between Pennington and Schaub in any event.

dog

As the rankings get lower, the list becomes increasingly dodgy. Not every website ranked every player, so I had to finagle things a bit. In fact, I have a total of 47 quarterbacks ranked using this method, but the bottom of the list probably leaves out some players due to my laziness. As a point of interest, Kerry Collins is the worst ranked player for whom I wrote down rankings data. He just barely edged out Trent Dilfer for this honor.

I have a bit more analysis of the less useful variety. Of the websites that I used, fantasyinsights.com probably had the rankings closest to the average. Technically, Yahoo won this award but their rankings were already an average and they only 22 picks, so they got voided. For the most divergent rankings, ESPN tied with fantasyfootballtoday.com for the wackiest/ballsiest quarterback rankings. ESPN apparently has high hopes for Vick and Rivers. Jamarcus Russell easily beat out pretty boy Brady Quinn with Quinn coming in a distant 36 or so to Russell’s 30 spot. With that, my dispassionate look at quarterback rankings is complete. Good luck to you all, unless your in my league.

collins

Edit: Today’s announcement of Vick’s indictment might have some effect on his fantasy ranking.

Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 6:39 pm  Comments (1)  

The Next Link

I’m a huge fan of passive aggression. This site is so right up my alley. Hilarious.

An interview with DJ Too Tuff, of the infamous golden age Philly rap group Tuff Crew.

The definitive Rickey Henderson. I would have included the story from Moneyball, where a confused, minor league Rickey keeps stealing bases when his coach gives him the takeoff sign.

I’d just like to go on the record as saying that I find little levity in stories about drug dealing and street crime. Drug dealing midgets, however, are a different story. The first line of the article is absolute gold.

DJ PRZM, best known by me as the producer behind Camu Tao’s ‘Hold The Floor’ has passed away.

People in New York apparently have started throwing CD’s out because they don’t have any use for them. [Subscription required]

Tiny turtles are coming back! Huzzah!

Bun B is that dude. Great interview. Hopefully, one day, the UGK record will actually come out. He’s also started blogging.

The top ten videos of snakes fighting various creatures. As I typed this I noticed that there was a tiny bug inside the stylish clear plastic that comprises the base of my Apple keyboard. I killed it by using the spacebar with extreme prejudice.

Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature. I find this sort of thing interesting, but don’t put too much stock into it. Number 8, about why men have a mid-life crisis is pretty hilarious.

An interesting idea over at Games for Lunch. How much fun is the first hour with a game. Honestly, I think this might be more important than usual reviews, which tend to focus on a lot of things that the average player doesn’t deal with.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I’m sorry about the age of some of these links, but it’s been awhile since I started compiling them. I think they’re mostly still humorous. It can be trying to find good links sometimes….

Published in: on July 14, 2007 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Free Fantasy Football League Roundup

Time for another roundup, and god knows I’m simply twitching with excitement. Ah, July, the sun is shining, I’m unemployed and the football season is a mere 57 or so days away, not that I’m counting. Even more exciting than the beginning of the professional football season is the beginning of the fantasy football season, also coincidentally a mere 57 or so days away. Of course, this number is misleading. It merely marks the first game of the season and not the true beginning of fantasy football for that occurred as soon as they allowed me to sign up to play. I first played fantasy sports about eight or nine years ago (with some intervening breaks). I can’t remember which website hosted the league, possibly Sportsline or AOL, and the various websites have changed and matured as have my own wants and needs in a fantasy sports league website. I’ve been playing on Yahoo! for the past few years in a year round cycle of statistics and roster adjustments. It’s been pretty good to my friends and I, at least those who don’t turn their noses up at the very idea of fantasy sports (a quick note to greaney if he’s reading: every season that i play fantasy sports and you don’t, i count as a victory of my sporting knowledge over your own. i will rename my team in honor of the rams, if you play just one season). However, some members of the league, including myself, are now itching for certain options that are beyond the current setup of Yahoo fantasy sports.

list

Good friend of the blog and rabid fantasy football player, X3D, recently emailed me the following list of qualities that he looks for in a fantasy football league. I’ve summarized his points about each category.

1. Interface – ease of use, clarity

2. Statistics – split stats for both players and competing owners

3. History – stats from previous seasons, split stats for owners over multiple seasons

4. Flexibility – full customization for scoring settings, draft order, trades (allowing draft pick trading, three-way trades), position eligibility

5. Post board – trash talking capabilities

6. Real-time stats

This is a pretty good list. X3D contributions will probably continue as long as my cohort and I write about fantasy football. All I will add are some intangibles that could go in a few different categories, such as website load time and aesthetics, obvious injury updates, links to fantasy analysis and a large, relatively intelligent community.

I collected a list of free fantasy football sites from a not very exhaustive search. If anyone has any further suggestions, please write a quick comment and I’ll check it out. I realize that you can’t really evaluate a site without playing in a league, but that sort of negates the idea of this whole post, so I’m going to ignore it. These evaluations are mostly based on pre-season impressions, so any pros or cons that come out during the season will be missed obviously. While I haven’t spent a lot of time with each site, anything that I missed I’m going to chalk up to faulty site design rather than my own idiocy. Also, CNNSI.com may well have free fantasy football but it doesn’t offer signups yet for next season. Their website is a piece of crap, though, so it’s not a huge loss. Now, let’s jump right to the individual reviews.

yahoo

Yahoo
I’ve been using Yahoo for awhile, so this review will probably be a bit different than the others. I like Yahoo. I read their news sometimes, largely out of habit, and their sports section is user friendly even if it lacks the breadth of ESPN. However, I’ve never been the commissioner, so testing out the league creation tool was a novel experience for me. Yahoo gets its highest marks for its interface and ease of use. The site is nice looking and all of your basic commands are simple to understand and use. The new fancy roster setting is appreciated but kind of a pain in the ass if you ever want to highlight text on your roster. I don’t know why I like doing that, some sort of impulse to doodle probably. Stat collection is only average. Baseball, notably, suffers from a lack of interesting statistical analysis. Football is a little bit simpler but it could still benefit from richer analytical tools. Of course, these tools seem to be offered on the pay side, Fantasy Football Plus, and the free side does get some trickle down every once in awhile, the voting-based keys to success and other tools seem to be a bit better than what’s offered at competing sites. I have no idea if it’s true but Yahoo seems to have more players than other leagues and the tool features are largely supported by this population, through a wisdom of crowds sort of thing. Your Yahoo ID saves your league results and offers some nice trophies and such for past victories. Unfortunately, the comparisons between other player profiles are somewhat strange and it only saves your old league’s schedules without any accompanying stats. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a way to look at cumulative records. The league rules are somewhat flexible. They come in a close fourth, and as much as I enjoy excessive rule tinkering, it tends to turn off more casual players and it sucks to have people leave a league over petty shit like rules. I can rant on either side of this issue but will save it for the future. The message board works and the smack talk is a fun feature, although it really should be a bit more public as in a sidebar that the league always sees. Finally, real time stat updates, via Stattracker, are a pay feature after the first week teaser. Having bought Stattracker, I can attest that it could be better. If I pay for something on the internet, it damn well better work right and Stattracker gets buggy at times. That said, it’s pretty cheap compared to paying for a league. I particularly like the analysis written for the Yahoo fantasy community, although there could be more of it. It’s written to be accessible to the casual user and with the Yahoo scoring system in mind. All in all, Yahoo offers a pretty good fantasy football league with a large community and good analysis that they write themselves. I like Yahoo and think it’s particularly good for the casual user, however there are better things out there.

sportsline

CBS Sportsline/NFL.com
I probably shouldn’t write about this site next, but it left me with the most vivid impression. Let me preface this review by stating that I have heard that CBS Sportsline has a very fine paid section with all sorts of amenities and customization. Unfortunately, these amenities and customization are not available on the free side and the website fails in nearly every category. I believe that Sportsline Fantasy Football is relatively popular. I’ve read people commenting on it. It’s on every list of fantasy football sites that I found. They must have one hell of a paid side because the free side is shit. The interface is mildly intimidating, no friendly team page greets you with nice little tabs as is the standard. The “options” link only goes to the option of changing your team name and personal id. The player stat page is ugly and as basic as possible. I have no idea if there is any league tracking over multiple seasons. I can’t really imagine playing multiple seasons there. There is absolutely no flexibility in rules, which is the part that I find most appalling. You’re stuck with a single rule set. I thought that this couldn’t possibly be the case, as every other website offers some degree of customization, but I confirmed the forced rule set when I looked back at Sportsline Fantasy Football enticement to upgrade. Honestly, I feel like I’m missing something about the website. I couldn’t even find a simple league message board, although there is supposed to be one even on the free side. I assume that they don’t offer real-time stats for free. Unless I’m very mistaken about things, I would consider Sportsline as essentially a pay only site. The general crappiness of the website is surprising as it powers NFL.com’s fantasy football section as well. (Oddly enough, while the Sportsline and NFL.com have identical fantasy football sections and cross-promotions on each site, the actual leagues aren’t linked. I couldn’t find the test league that I created in one when I was using the other. Very odd.) The only positive comment that I can make about Sportsline is that they seem to have some good in-house fantasy analysis, I guess.

aol

AOL
AOL’s offering (and most of the other sites) was a stark contrast from the good reputation/bad reality findings on Sportsline. I went to AOL with very low expectations. The very act of accessing an AOL website gave me fears of software installing itself on my computer and dreams of the ubiquitous cd coasters I once collected for no apparent reason. Much to my surprise, AOL offers a very nice free fantasy football experience and actually has the most original setup. Their website is simple yet useful and isn’t bogged down in the bullshit web 2.0 stuff that is beginning to take over Yahoo and ESPN. The interface is very clear and well laid out. It’s easy to find all of the league tools and player information through a simple expanding sidebar that is actually not flash- or ajax- or whatever-based. The stats page is similarly clear and useful. There isn’t any flashy analysis, but it’s easily readable and lists every player for each position on a single page. Also, you can view all of the teams rosters on one page for easy comparison, which was unique among the websites. Amazingly, the site seems to offer easily viewable league histories back through your previous seasons. I’m not sure how much they record for you, but it seems nice. Unfortunately, their FAQ says that there is no way to import league histories, but at least the topic is addressed and they might actually work on it. Interestingly, you can give out custom awards based on whatever you want. There’s also a section for league finances to allow easy tracking of who’s put money in the pool and who hasn’t. I imagine you can also use this function for pay trade systems. There’s a weekly pick ’em section, which is always fun. Communication is simple with a message board and owner notes. The site also allows for the creation of custom league polls. Apparently, live scoring is free, as well, but I have no idea what it looks like. AOL completely surprised me, and I would be more than happy to bring my league over to their site. Some might dock them points for the spartan design, but I find it highly appealing along with the many other unique, if somewhat small, touches.

espn

ESPN
Clearly, ESPN.com offers the best real sports analysis of any major website. On top of that, ESPN is a very fine network and offers the best sports show on television (if not the best show), PTI. For that alone, I can understand why their fantasy football league is relatively popular. However, before going to their site, I had heard some negative things about fantasy football on ESPN.com. I loathe their website design, so full of flash elements and sliding buttons and bullshit everywhere, so I was prepared to believe the rumors. However, the fantasy football offering actually seems pretty solid. Much like the website, there’s too much web 2.0ish stuff but the content is good and actually the fantasy football site design is a bit more restrained than the general site. I would go so far as to the say that the league and team pages are the nicest looking of the bunch. The interface is easy to use and clear enough. Many of the features listed in the AOL review are also included on ESPN.com. I mostly dock the site because it feels a bit too close to Yahoo. I’m not saying one copied the other or anything, but I wanted something a bit different from what I was used to in a new website. Most of my problems with ESPN.com are faults of the general website and not of the fantasy football area. I just don’t like all of the Insider teasers and video everywhere. I know that ESPN.com has some nice analysis but I don’t want to watch a video of something that I could read in a small fraction of the time. Also, the website tends to do bad things to my browser, crashing and whatnot. The fantasy football area offers some form of league history, again not viewable and likely not importable. Player stats are nice and I appreciate the easy pop-up analysis for each player, but it’s all a bit much ultimately and I would prefer to just read analysis on a separate page. League flexibility is good, rules are customizable and such, but it doesn’t differentiate itself from other sites in this respect. One positive and unique note is the inclusion of league chat in addition to a message board. This function alone does a lot to win me over. When you play in a league where you either don’t know everyone, I can imagine use of hashing out trades and just generally talking shit on the league chat. The other websites should really rip this off. I can’t think of a good reason not to have integrated league chat. Live scoring is advertised as free. All in all, despite some misgivings and an uncertain league history area, I would be happy to move my league over to ESPN.com.

fox sports

FoxSports
Unlike ESPN.com, I’m not a fan of FoxSports.com’s big brother cable station. Sure, it’s fun to watch the occasional MMA bout or whatever, but their schedule seems built around the Best Damn network of shows and I actively dislike all of the hosts of that show, past and present. In addition, FoxSports.com is linked with MSN.com, which is as unholy of a media union as I can imagine. Unlike AOL, FoxSports.com Fantasy Football did not rise above the challenges of their parent company. While the fantasy football offering is nowhere near as bad as Sportsline, it does nothing to stand out from the pack and, in a comparative fantasy football review post, there’s no such thing as good enough. FoxSports is basically Yahoo or ESPN without any of the unique features offered on those sites. The interface is clear and well-designed enough. The player stats page tends to lag a second when you load it but doesn’t commit any grievous sins. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to look at the scoreboard or standings prior to the beginning of the season. The rules have an average level of flexibility. The message board is a message board. Oddly enough, there’s a “stories” board in addition to the message board that lets you post images but is otherwise identical to the message board except it actually restricts message length more. I’m mystified as to why they don’t combine these features. FoxSports does offer small league sizes than some of the other websites allowed, but that made me feel sad more than it shocked me with its utility. I couldn’t find the league history section if there is one. They do seem to offer live scoring. (It’s fairly petty of Yahoo to still charge for this service when most other sites don’t) The site design isn’t too heavy with flash, although where they do use it, it’s mostly just for aesthetics and is not appreciated. FoxSports seems to offer in-house fantasy analysis, but at this point, it’s safe to say that’s fairly standard among the websites. Ultimately, I wouldn’t recommend FoxSports.com Fantasy Football. I wouldn’t kick it if I saw it lying in the street, as I would with Sportsline, but I also wouldn’t support moving my league to it. It’s simply a bland offering and isn’t up to the competition.

fleaflicker

FleaFlicker
FleaFlicker is the only small website offering and is the most likely destination for my league. There are probably other good small websites out there. Particularly if you’re willing to pay, I hear very good things about some of the small, unaffiliated with a major media service websites. It might just be my Firefox setup but FleaFlicker seems entirely devoid of advertising or other revenue-generating means, leaving me a little nervous about its stability as a long term fantasy football platform. Those fears aside, the fantasy football experience has won me over, mostly. FleaFlicker imparts a satisfying sense of control through the website design and features. The interface is useful without being overbearing and simple without being spartan. The player stats section offers some fun graphs on each player’s profile, however I would like to see actual stats on the player index rather than just fantasy points and ratings. Of course, the stats are accessible on each player’s page. The website seems to offer the best league history analysis and I heard a rumor of importing histories, that would make at least one member of my league an instant devotee if we can figure it out. The site seems to be run by a small group of people, and the responsiveness of the site management is very good. Questions in the forums are quickly answered and the community is still small enough to be helpful to the confused. I would appreciate a full-fledged message board for the general site forum, but maybe, it’s too expensive or something. The scoring is the most flexible of the bunch and offers some fairly interesting default rule sets to choose from. You can set up bonuses for nearly any stat situation. This flexibility is probably what won me over, even though my stat rule ideas are generally shot down quickly. I dream of a day when my commisionership is absolute and all manner of excessive scoring rule is allowed. The post board is fine, but after seeing ESPN’s chat board, it seems a bit inadequate. Real-time stats are available. Part of me misses locally produced fantasy analysis but I know that I should branch out and stop suckling at the teat of Yahoo’s Big Board. Unlike the other websites, FleaFlicker gives you a sense that the developers will actually take suggestions and try to implement new features. My enjoyment of FleaFlicker probably has something to do with a natural preference for the small-time and independent. So, I’m probably overlooking some cons because FleaFlicker is the little fantasy football website that could, but if I can import my league’s history and see a cumulative breakdown of my matchups with each of my hated rivals, then I don’t really care.

trophy

I’m not going to rank the websites or give them hard and fast scores. Without seeing how each site operates during the season, it really wouldn’t be fair. My preseason impression is that FleaFlicker will probably be my recommendation, Yahoo, ESPN and AOL are on the same level (with a slight knock on Yahoo for feeling a bit stale after a few years), FoxSports is next and Sportsline is dead last. Good luck to everyone on the coming fantasy football season. I encourage comments, particularly if you know how these sites function during the regular season or use a different site altogether.

Published in: on July 12, 2007 at 7:25 pm  Comments (2)  

I thought you were made of sterner stuff….

Or “I would have waited an eternity for this….” My ability to remember dialogue from the animated movie continues to alarm me.

The combination of rainy weather and a day off made it virtually impossible that I would not see the Transformers movie on the 4th. Despite the unusual effort it took to get there, I was firmly settled into my seat at 6:30 as the film began to roll. I’ve got kind of a lot to cover here, I’ll do my best to keep it all organized. Forgive me if I get a little offtrack.

The most pertinent questions are the basic ones. Did I like the movie? The answer is an overwhelming yes. The answer, however, to the question ‘did I not like the movie?’ is also yes. It took me a few days before I had sorted my thoughts about the picture and in the end I find myself conflicted. There was a lot to like about the movie and a lot not to like. The root of this is in the movie’s director, Michael Bay. I, like many others more knowledgable than myself, was against the decision to give him a large hand in shaping the property. In interviews he comes off as not liking the original property or the ideas behind it. Beyond simply not being a hardcore fan of Transformers, he seemed to look down upon them as silly and stupid. This disheartened me because projects that involve fully realized mythos from another medium live and die on the ability of the creative team to understand what about the characters resonates with their fans. Sam Raimi seemed to have a good handle on how to fully integrate Peter Parker with Spider-Man and it shows in the movies. Michael Bay, the man who directed the video for the one hit wonder from the DiVinyls ‘I Touch Myself,’ finds Transformers to be beneath him.

The perplexing part about this is that his strengths as a filmmaker match up with the Transformers perfectly. Take an over the top Bay carchase and throw in the idea that the cars can transform into giant killer robots at any moment. Sounds pretty exhilerating. I’m hard pressed to come up with many other directors who look as good a match on paper. I’m also eternally grateful that Bay got it instead of one the terrible directors constantly pumping out movies based on videogames. They copy Bay anyway, but with none of his distinctive flair.

And his style is on full display in the movie, make no doubt about it. The action is everything you could have imagined. The opening scene, the attack on the air base, is perfectly done. The attack underscores a single idea, albeit one that was fundamental to the cartoon, that these machines are completely unstoppable. As the movie got going I found things that I didn’t care for quite as much, but the action onscreen stays fully unimpeachable throughout. If nothing else, Bay knows how to shoot a dynamic action sequence and his sense of movement combines well with the robots, who are constantly shifting between forms as they battle each other. Heady stuff, and something my inner six year old yearns for desperately. If you’re someone with no nostalgia for the cartoon who just wants to see an action pic, this is the movie for you. It delivers on the promise of gigantic alien war machines beating the living hell out of each other.

Where it gets bogged down is when the movie starts following people. Totally unnecessary. This was probably a concession to the film’s status as a summer blockbuster, that there had to be a narrative arc that the Transformers fit into, not the other way around. The cartoon spent almost no time developing human characters choosing instead to focus on the machinations and relationships of the robots. It’s understandable that this would happen, as a movie just about Transformers doesn’t receive $150 million budget. I would love a movie that was just two hours of Spider-Man beating ass, but that would never make real money outside of the geek community. So fine, let them throw some people into the film. To their credit they found really likable leads, who do a good job with the limited material given them. Shia LeBeouf is excellent playing the flustered but tongue in cheek lead that Nic Cage pioneered in The Rock. His bag of tricks is more limited than Cage’s, but it’s unbelievable what he does with make believe robots and the wooden acting of Megan Fox. (More on her in a minute.) It’s all the ancillary characters that kill the momentum. No one cares how the nerdy codebreakers at the NSA crack the Decepticon code and Rachel Taylor’s character, while pretty, is completely extraneous. Her only purpose is to introduce us to Anthony Anderson, whose character does even less. What the hell was John Turturro doing? Jon Voight? As if! I won’t even bother going into the plot points they were involved in because they were confused, poorly told and generally useless. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese chip in gamely, but their roles are so limited that it seems like they’re just part of the scenery for the big action setpieces.

Everyone has a crappy backstory, a cursory nod towards the “motivation” of these characters. While I like to pretend that they’re more than two dimensional line readers too, a movie like this doesn’t need that crap. Who cares why they do anything?!?! There are a dozen Transformers waiting to smash up the place! Josh Duhamel has never seen his kid, Megan Fox has a criminal record, blah blah blah. Frankly, the only character that needed any sort of build up is Shia and his is the only one that gets more than lip service. (In short, he wants to sleep with Megan Fox. Understandable and something that most people can relate to.) I wasn’t doing this intentionally, but I’ve been referring to the actors by their name, not their characters name. I think that says a lot about how forgettable the people were. But this isn’t Gosford Park, it’s Transformers. For all my bitching, it’s a minor, minor annoyance. Especially when you have the best special effects money can buy.

I’m referring, of course, not to the robots, but to Megan Fox. Oh man. I have no clue what kind of lab she must have been cooked up in, but please, make some more. Simply unreal. Her role in the movie mostly consists of staring upwards at robots and looking yummy. In my previous post on the movie I mentioned that Transformers was an amalgam of things I thought was cool when I was six and I think of Megan Fox in much the same way, except I’m 25 now. As I so often do, I’ve decided to enumerated on this with a numbered list. To whit:

1. She has a tattoo of a line from Shakespeare’s King Lear. Clearly I would be less excited about this if she was, you know, normal looking, but as is, it’s a definite plus. [Image of the tat from cityrag.com]

2. “I like the way getting a tattoo feels. If I’m depressed, it’s nice to get one and deal with the pain.” [justjared.com]

3. “I’ve done drugs. I didn’t enjoy anything other than marijuana.” [celebstoner.com]

4.

Seriously, add 1 through 4 up. Could she be any yummier?

She’s engaged to Brian Austin Green, which is severely uncool. Aside from releasing what’s generally considered the worst rap album of all time (with help from the Pharcyde no less) he seems like a douche, as the kids say. However, in this article it claims that the two started dating when he was 31 and she was 18. Well played, sir. Respect.

That’s probably more ranting about Ms. Fox than was absolutely necessary, so I’ll try to get back onto track. The real star of the show is the effects and the filmmakers do a wonderful job putting them on screen. The highest praise I can give is to say that I didn’t once, throughout the entire movie, think of the Transformers as effects. They were characters as much as any of the actors, with detailed animations and carrying real weight that most CGI characters don’t have. They look stunning. Some of the voices were a little off and I think they had Jazz breakdancing at one point, but these are tiny complaints. I didn’t mind the design changes to the robot forms because the cartoon designs would have looked, well, cartoony. I love the little details, like the gears moving in their feet as they walk. I had read in reviews before I saw the film that the effects were the next level in movie CGI technology. At first I didn’t understand, but as I thought about it, I think that’s accurate. The reason I didn’t immediately agree is simply due to the fact that they were integrated as seemlessly into the movie as they were.

I had more trouble with the Autobots than with the Decepticons. The Autobots are supposed to stand for something and they end up a little flat. None of them have much personality at all besides Bumblebee, who’s doing a Harpo Marx bit the vast majority of the time, and Optimus Prime, who they basically nailed. Ratchet has one good line then basically disappears. Ironhide barely gets any screen time. Jazz does, but there’s the aforementioned breakdancing and the “hood” accent, provided by Darius McCrary. Or, as most probably know him better, Eddie Winslow from Family Matters. What’s he been up to? It’s too bad, because I think the character had a lot of similar elements as the cartoon version. The cartoon Jazz surely knows how to breakdance, he knows not to is all. Bumblebee is well done, unsurprising considering that he had the most screen time to flesh out his character. Optimus Prime they figured out. He was the lynchpin in the cartoon and he remains so here. He’s the same tough leader, good soldier and protector that was twenty years ago. The aged voice of Peter Cullen, who voiced Optimus in the cartoon, lends an air of sadness to the role. Thankfully, they don’t screw Prime up.

Much the same can be said about the raging yang to Prime’s sober yin; Megatron. He doesn’t appear until 2/3 of the way through, but he really makes an entrance. While I would have liked more time for him, he’s done right too. He’s menacing, merciless and mighty. Just like the good old days. He also gets off a couple of classic arrogant Megatron lines, the one asking Shia if he was motivated by fear or courage being the best. The other Decepticons are a motley bunch, with only Frenzy and Starscream sharing much resemblence to their cartoon forebears. Starscream is sadly mostly mute, but he does have one of the best action scenes, when he attacks the other fighter jets. Awesome to watch. I don’t have much to say about Frenzy and saw him more as a device to move the plot forward. Barricade and Blackout make the most of their time onscreen, while the others mostly have limited roles. Overall, a decent lineup.

It was a little odd that the Autobots were so overpowered by the Decepticons. The bad guys have always been the better fighters, but no one on the Autobots can get anything done beside Prime and Bumblebee. There’s a certain rhythm to these proceedings that the movie ignores to an extent. The Decepticons ruthlessly execute a fiendish plan, beating up Autobots in the process. Then with victory in their grasp they are foiled, fly away and Megatron declares ‘I shall be avenged!’ The Autobots survive thanks to pluck, teamwork and a couple of big hitters. (The best sports analogy I can come up with is the 2001 World Series where the Death Star Yankees lost in 7 to the Diamondbacks.) Here the Autobots get beat on and show some pluck, but are outnumbered and outgunned. They slow down the Decepticons, but only Prime demonstrates much skill by himself. That Josh Duhamel and his band of buddies could do anything at all to slow down the Decepticon advance is totally silly. But again, the movie does as much right as it does wrong. The Megatron/Prime battle rules, as does Prime taking down Bonecrusher. The visceral thrills in these scenes sweep away most of my admittedly fanboyish nitpicking.

All of this prevaricating is indicative of my feelings towards the film. I compare the time I spent waiting for it to the saga of Oddyseus, who spent ten years fighting in the Trojan War and ten years getting back home, all to see his wife. When he got back, after twenty years, his wife wasn’t the same beautiful girl that he married. But it was still her. Sure, she wasn’t as soft and yes, maybe her face had weathered and worn like an old baseball mitt. But after twenty years, just seeing her was a victory. She was the same person Oddyseus loved and that was enough. I can’t go back to the cartoon that I watched so intently as a child. Just seeing it again, on the big screen, with all the bells and whistles befitting a summer smash in 2007, is enough for me.

Transformers Links:

Real life Optimus Prime battles real life Megatron

Old vs. New Character Designs

Megan Fox Links:

Megan-Fox.net

Megansafox.com

Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment