Tuesday, July 31, 2012

White Wedding

Billy Idol's 'White Wedding' appropriately describes the unification of my boss, Lynn, and her new husband TJ. The pair joined in matrimony this past Saturday, which of course made for extra work for the rest of us.

Things went about as well as could be expected. The wedding and following reception and dance went really well also.

Interspersed in all the wedding hoopla was the Legion section tournament. Bottineau was eliminated on the third day after a couple of tough matches following some upsets in early rounds.

I got a few pretty good pictures though, but first I am going to begin a four-week series on fantasy football.

Over the next four weeks I'll be sharing a little of my thoughts on fantasy football rankings for the 2012 season. As a many time champion in leagues both with friends, strangers and anyone else who dares to challenge me, I feel like it's time that I share a little of the method behind the success over the years. Keep in mind that I began playing fantasy football in 1995 as a seven-year-old. And first played with the 'big boys' for a money purse in 2000 as a 12-year-old.

Anyway, the next four weeks I will look at the four most important positions that could help shape anyone's fantasy draft and season. This week I will look quarterbacks.


My overwhelming theme of this season is to stay steady and not get wrapped up with all your eggs in risk/reward players' baskets. There are many safe and solid picks that will help a team with minimal injury or suspension risk (obviously things happen), but many players have dropped in my ranks due to injury risk.

Quarterbacks are really important this year, and really they have been the past couple of years. I think it is no surprise that passing has increased mightily over the past few seasons. Just take last year's attack of the Marino single season passing yard record, which was smashed by not one, but two guys with a third not far behind. Therefore, having a top-tier quarterback is key to fantasy success. Playing fantasy football without one of the best quarterbacks this season, would be like going up against pocket aces with two under cards pre-flop. It's doable, but the aces are much more preferable.

That brings me to rankings, and again players have slipped due to my gut feeling that the injury bug might bite this year. The NFL season takes a toll on the body, and now with a full offseason and no extra rest, it might enforce its will over the more injury-prone players.

1. Aaron Rodgers: Really a no-brainer here, has been a rock the past few years and still has many weapons at his disposal. Also, he has a very player-friendly coach, who lets him help pick the plays in a pass-happy offense. Plus he's also good for a rushing touchdown or two here and again.

2. Drew Brees: Not only is Brees a big yardage gainer and extensive thrower with many weapons, he will again have the emerged red zone threat of Jimmy Graham. Graham helped him throw a career-high 46 touchdowns last season. Expect more of the same this years, 5,000 yards and 40+ touchdowns are a lock.

3. Tom Brady: Another signal caller that put up monster numbers. Though he has to fall off soon (he turns 35 on Friday), but not this year. With the Gronk and Welker still in tow, and a new deep threat in Brandon Lloyd, there is no reason to believe that Brady can't put up monster numbers once again in 2012.

4. Cam Newton: I've always been a big fan of quarterbacks that can run, from Cunningham to Culpepper to Vick, they have always produced in fantasy. However, Newton takes it to a whole different level. Seriously? More than 4,000 yards passing and 14 touchdowns rushing. Unprecedented. A knock on mobile quarterbacks is durability, but Newton appears to have a great physical ability to take a hit like a running back. While it might force him into a shorter career, it shouldn't affect his ability to put up big fantasy numbers this season.

5. Eli Manning: Most people might have Peyton or Matt Stafford in this position, but for me, Eli's in a better situation. With fantastic weapons in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and speedy backs, Eli should be able to repeat nearly identical, if not better, numbers from 2011. He's a much safer bet than a guy, who missed most of his first two seasons (Stafford) and one who didn't play a snap in 2011 (Peyton).

6. Philip Rivers: Despite one of his worst season as a quarterback, Rivers didn't have a bad season fantasy-wise. He still threw for more than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns, numbers that are parallel with most any other season for Rivers. The departure of Vincent Jackson might hurt Rivers stock a little, but I think the return of a healthy Antonio Gates will help more than Jackson leaving will hurt.

7. Matt Stafford: Even though I consider Stafford an injury risk, and I will likely avoid him in my draft scenarios, it is pretty hard to not put a guy who threw for more than 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in the top 10. Plus, assuming he stays healthy, he gets to throw to Megatron and an underrated Brandon Pettigrew.

8. Matt Schaub: A high-end sleeper, expect Schaub to return to 2009 form with a 4,000 yard and 30 touchdown performance this season. Teams should key on the solid Texans run game, which will open the Schaub to Andre Johnson touchdown train. Also a solid offensive line should help Schaub stay healthy.

9. Peyton Manning: I couldn't let Manning fall out of the top ten. Despite the injury and any lingerings or rust that remain, Peyton is still Peyton. Before 2011 he was a consensus top five quarterback for many years. He has a lot of weapons in Denver, so he can't do too bad can he?

10. Tony Romo: A pretty safe bet that Romo goes for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Enough said.

Tune in next week for a look at running backs.

Here are some pictures:
Bottineau's Andrew Hill smacks a single in a Thursday morning game against Rolette.

Hill can't handle an over throw by catcher Taylor Milbrath Thursday.

Brody Moum makes contact.

Second baseman Devin Bercier fires to first base against Velva on Friday.

Justin McCloud slides safely into third following a triple last Friday against Velva.

McCloud prepares to field a grounder from his short stop position.

Bercier flames a pitch toward the plate.

Hunter Braaten dives back safely into first base.

McCloud turns a double play.

Cody Brooks takes a cut at a pitch last Friday.

Ging Martin prepares to throw after fielding a bunt.

Brooks delivers a pitch.

Brooks stares toward home before firing a pitch.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

99 Problems

The Jay-Z classic 99 Problems perfectly describes the way my life is right now. I am a bachelor down on his luck that has a lot of problems--99 might not even be enough. However, I am confident that things are about to turn around.

This past week I covered several stories including: a garden tour preview, missionaries from Missouri building a park, legion baseball, Babe Ruth baseball, a new DCB basketball coach, the races and a look into the Shrine Bowl. Plus I also took what turned out to be the front page photo of the Bottineau fire department training.

I also was fortunate enough to make it home for my young Godson's third birthday party. The kid is cute, but I can tell he's going to be trouble when he gets older.

This week is my boss' big wedding and all that leads up to events like that. I guess that might sorta, kinda put me in charge (gasp). I hope all goes well. I also have a section tournament to cover, which fortunately is in Bottineau.

Here are the pics from this week:
Bottineau Babe Ruth left fielder Ethan Kerslake fires toward home last Sunday.

Luke Amsbaugh dives safely back into first base against Grafton last Sunday.

Catcher Brody Moum narrowly misses a pop fly behind the plate.

Moum makes a catch on a pop up.

Moum smashes a single in Sunday's first game.

Kellen Lagerquist fields a bunt from his third-base position.

Parker Engelhard fires a pitch.

Matt Hunter gets into the back of Seth Nelson and blows his front tire.

Erik Blada loses his right rear tire, which bounds off the track.

Again Blada's tire rolls off the track.

Kyle Romans nearly runs into the water truck after falling off the track.

The INEX Legend cars round turn three.

Bottineau firefighters battle one another in a training exercise last Tuesday.

Bottineau fire chief Eric Nostdahl leads his team on the hose.

Firefighters get drenched during the contest.

Other firefighters look on as two teams compete.

Things get a little wet for the watching firefighters, who got an unexpected shower.

Two teams duke it out.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Nothing Song

This week I chose the Sigur Ros song The Nothing Song, because I don't have any pictures to share this week. I wrote a couple stories, but nothing that I needed a picture for. So, in an unusual week, there is nothing.

I am excited for the upcoming fantasy football season. Though drafts are still five or six weeks away, I have already begun to prepare. Hopefully I can be a champion again. I have won 1-out of-2 of my leagues the past two years.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Water Tower Town

Many of the towns in the area are very much similar to the ones described in the Scotty McCreery hit Water Tower Town. I just think it's a neat song about small towns.

I covered Legion baseball, the Skinautique water ski show and a couple stories on college and youth basketball this past week. It wasn't a daunting week by any means, but it was still fairly busy for July.

This next week might be a pretty light week, as far as thing go, but what that means is I'll be doing projects in the office all week. I might not mind that though, as I don't have air conditioning at home.

Anywho I have a few pictures from legion:

Bottineau pitcher Andrew Hill delivers a pitch last Tuesday against Surrey.

Kevin Graber raps a base hit to right field last Tuesday.

Hill awaits the ball to try and make a play at the plate.

Mark LaCroix slides underneath a tag to score the game-winning run on a suicide squeeze play.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Long Hot Summer

It certainly looks to be a Long Hot Summer as Keith Urban once put it. With temps closing in on 90 every day for the past week and with the same on the forecast, that is certainly a true-looking statement. It certainly makes for a lot of hot hours in the sun for the things I have been covering (and a lot of cool hours in the air-conditioned office too).

Last week I covered legion baseball, as they trekked through a 6-2 busy week. I also wound up at the Willow City 125th celebration where I snapped some pictures from the parade.

I have no ambition (once again) to write up an opinion this week, and nothing really to write about, so without further ado, pictures:

Bottineau's Hunter Braaten slaps a base hit last Thursday against Cando in Bottineau.

Braaten, who also pitched in the game, about to toss a pitch.

Second baseman Devin Bercier tries to turn a double play in the first game of a doubleheader.

Bercier tags out Cando's Jake Hagler as he tries to steal second. The throw from Mark LaCroix was right on the money.

Bottineau shortstop Andrew Hill about to make a throw on the run.

Main Street in Willow City was lined with people as the parade starts.

Joyce tosses candy and goodies from the bucket of this old tractor.

This little girl waves to parade goers during Willow City's 125th birthday parade.

Blake Rosencrans gathers up more candy during the parade last Saturday.

Morgan Klebe plays the guitar on a float last Saturday.

Former Bottineau County Extension Agent Tim Semler shows off a Minneapolis Moline tractor.