Monday, October 12, 2015

Madden '04 Monday - Browns at Chiefs

Typically I use this space to discuss some obscure player from Madden 2004, but today I want to use it to showcase a game I just played.  If I do this in the future I may use video or gifs, but for this entry I just used images.  So here goes!

The game, as I said, was (my) Browns at the Chiefs.  The Browns are led by Tim Hasselbeck while the Chiefs QB is David Garrard is this incarnation.  We won the toss and elected to receive:

Here's a general look at how the game looks on most plays, as well as a basic look at my offense (if you embiggen).  The skill players here are Bethel Johnson and Kevin Johnson at WR, Teyo Johnson at TE (So many Johnsons!), Robert Edwards at RB, and R.J. Bowers at FB.  And of course Hasselbeck at QB:

Finally we get to an important play - and this first one was huge.  Hasselbeck just barely got a pass off towards Robert Edwards and was then drilled by the Chiefs.  The ball is just to the right of #97 - so this was almost a sack AND almost a knockdown...

But instead it got to Edwards, who eluded one tackle and stiff armed a second one.  This ended up being like a 25 yard gain:

He's a monster, and a necessary one with Hasselbeck as my QB.  Checkdowns and screens are basically my entire passing game, so if my running backs aren't working then this Browns team doesn't.  Luckily for us, Edwards was rolling today.  Here's him breaking a tackle from #97 on his way to a touchdown run that made it 10-0 (I kicked a FG early in the game):

I had hoped that the 7-0 lead would keep us on top for a while, but then we left their tight end WIDE open on the next drive. he is standing at our 8 yard line, waiting for a pass.  The end zone is behind him, and every Brown is 7-10 yards away.  10-7 after this catch and run:

I got it back quickly though - on a third and goal from the 1.  No one was open, but the blocking was solid, so I made a little run with Hasselbeck for the QB rushing TD.  These are rare with Hasselbeck, so I celebrated with a little juke as I crossed the line.  17-7:

I then shanked the next kickoff.  Here's a very blurry picture showing how far out of bounds it was:

And here's the ref announcing that the Chiefs would get the ball at the 40 with plenty of time left.

But they did nothing with the possession, and we went into halftime with that same 17-7 score.  Yay Browns!

The Chiefs quickly marched down to pull within a TD right after the half.  It's kind of cool getting to see the stadium numbers here, including time, playclock, and score.  17-10:

I needed to put this game out of reach after staying so close, but I ended up in a quick 3rd and 15 hole on my next drive.  Fortunately my third down back, Ricky Williams (not the famous one), is fast and shifty.  So after barely breaking a tackle, he ended up just passing the first down marker to keep our drive going:

We ended up scoring a FG on that drive, so the Chiefs had to score to keep it close yet again.  This time my defense was up to the challenge, with Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilia almost making a sack...

Only for Dan Klecko (edited into the game because he's listed at DE #99 or something) to finish the sack off later that same play:

At that point, my defense went on fire.  Here's R.W. McQuarters about to pick off a pass intended for Darrell Jackson.  He ran it back to about the 10:

The next play, from the 10, we ran a WR screen to Bethel Johnson (this is a bad pic but he's the white blob just to the left of the 10 near the top of the screen.  He scored EASILY and we went up 27-10:

So I was up 17 (actually 24 after ANOTHER TD), and the Chiefs were basically toast, but to add insult to injury Mike McKenzie forced Garrard to fumble on a QB keeper.  Game, set match:

And so it ended, with the Browns winning 34-10.  Yay good guys!

The player of the game is probably Tim Hasselbeck - almost 300 yards passing on 60% passing with 2 touchdowns, which is great for him:

Edwards and Williams would've been good picks too though.  Williams led most my rushing charge with a crazy 8.9 ypc.  But Edwards caught seven passes and score two total touchdowns so he was pretty huge in this one too:

And that, my readers, was a random game of 2004 Madden!  Next week I'll return to my more familiar random player format.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

All Day I Dream About Trades - A Fantasy Sports Column Introduction

Welcome to another new weekly blog feature (woooooo!  I can hear the cheers ring from coast to coast!).  

I play fantasy sports year round, and while I never play daily fantasy (no Draft Kings or whatever for me!), I am fantasizing about my teams/leagues on the daily.  I'm that guy in every league I'm in who leads the league in transactions and then some, to the point that people have set weekly add/drop limits in some of my leagues to counter me.

So I guess you could say (if you wanted to riff on a shoe company's acronym) that All Day I Dream About Trades.  For instance, this might be me thinking about dealing Chris Ivory + for Jamaal Charles:

Or, later in the day, me considering dropping Marco Estrada for Erasmo Ramirez:

This little blurb will give me a chance to talk about stuff like that.  My weekly plan is this:
1. Brief update on any/all of my leagues as stuff happens.  So if nothing happens, no real update (maybe just standings, W/L).
2. I'll then cover any add/drops/trades I did in a Moves/Analysis section, so you can see who I'm going for or getting rid of this week if you care to know.
3. I'll then throw up a list of guys on my Watch List - aka the kind of guys who may end up in part 2 in the future.
4. Finally, I'd love to do a brief fantasy mailbag of sorts in these.  So if you ever have any question, from any sport, feel free to comment here or email and I'll get back to you.  I don't do fantasy for a living or anything obviously but I like to think I've dabbled enough in at least three of the four main sports that I typically have some useful knowledge!

Anyways, let's get this going!  At the moment, I have five teams across three sports.

Standings: I have one baseball league, a 12 man, $250 pot keeper league.  I just won it for the third year in a row, and the only guys who remained with me year long were a $20 Jordan Zimmerman and a $11 Sonny Gray.  I won the championship thanks largely to Manny Machado and Max Scherzer, both of whom were rentals, so they're both gone now.  But I have a solid keeper core including $1 Prince Fielder, $1 J.D. Martinez, and $1 Tyson Ross so I'm happy.

Moves/Analysis: I made one trade the day after the season ended (I dealt Ketel Marte for a trade amnesty - we borrowed this rule from the NBA and I now have four).  Of more relevant news are all the prospects I signed at season's end to try to keep or (more likely) trade in the offseason.  Some of my favorite prospects or young guys that I grabbed: Blake Snell (who I LOVE), Trea Turner, Michael Conforto, Jameson Taillon, Addison Russell, J.P. Crawford, Kevin Pillar, Greg Bird, Brett Phillips, Raisel Iglesias, and Jerad Eickhoff.  I expect to trade 4-5 of those guys before the season starts, but I have especially high hopes for Snell.

Watch List Favorites: These are all guys I may target in the auction draft (we do auction not snake - it's awesome!) next year - Aaron Altherr, Rick Porcello, Zach Davies, Chris Heston, Martin Perez, Cody Allen (but not too early because closers are a dime a dozen if you add/drop a lot), Adam Eaton, Eugenio Suarez, Aaron Judge, Hector Olivera, Marcell Ozuna (huge bounceback candidate), Trevor Story, Mikie Mahtook, Domingo Santana, and Marcus Semien.

Standings: I have three football leagues.  One is pure silliness - it's a worst teams league that we drafted on Blowout (2nd year in a row) where good stats are bad and vice versa.  My team is 2-2, with Drew Stanton as a great pick (players had to have a minimum of 8 starts the year before) and Doug Martin as a terrible one.

League two is more serious, but still not really.  It's a Yahoo league that accidentally auto drafted for most all of us, so all our teams were awful.  But it's fairly dead so I was able to grab Pierre Garcon and the Cardinals defense on my way to a 3-1 record.

League three is my big league - it's a friends league I have with my wife, and I am currently awful at 1-3.  My team isn't awful though - I have Chris Ivory, Tom Brady, and Antonio Brown among others - I have just benched guys at the wrong times.

Moves/Analysis: I'm doing all I can to trade Dan Bailey this week - the Cowboys are awful and he is still a good name in kicker circles.  I also signed Leonard Hankerson in one league, as I love what he's doing in the Falcon offense.  I'm expecting the Patriots to trounce Dallas, so I'm starting all Pats on offense that I can.  I'm also starting Eli Manning (vs. SF) over Andy Dalton (vs. Sea) and Marcus Mariota (vs. Buf) in my Yahoo league and don't think I will come to regret it.

Watch List Favorites: Giovani Bernard (Just cut I will probably need to put in a waiver if I want him), Charles Clay, Michael Floyd, John Brown, Ronnie Hillman, Isaiah Crowell, Cincinnati Defense

Standings: I got roped into a fantasy hockey league for the 2nd year in a row, and while I feel better about it this year (and I finished 3rd last year), I missed the draft to go arcading so my team is a mess.  My two goalies are Ryan Miller and Jake Allen - I had really hoped to aim higher and wanted a 3rd goalie.  My defense blows as well - Drew Doughty is cool but everyone else was a real late round pick due to the evil autodraft.  My Steven Stamkos led offense is okay, and so far I'm up 7-4-1 in week one head-to-head.

Moves/Analysis: To try to boost defense, I signed Marc-Edouard Vlassic, who had two assists, two PIM, one PPP, and two shots in game one.  I have no idea who he is and I know he's probably a nothing, but I'm willing to roll the dice.

Watch List Favorites: Justin Williams, Brock Nelson, Dan Girardi, Travis Harmonic (He is owned in a TON of leagues...last year I added and dropped him a few times), John Gibson

Friday, October 9, 2015

Great Sports Name Hall of Fame Nominee - Ossee Schreckengost

Schreckengost.  Where in the heck does a name like that come from?

Let's find out:

"Altered form of German Schreckengast, a nickname from Middle High German schreck (imperative of schrecken ‘to frighten’) + den gast ‘the guest’, presumably a nickname for an unfriendly innkeeper."

"A nickname for an unfriendly innkeeper" - I like that.  And I wonder if Ossee would've fit the part had he taken a non-baseball career as his profession.  See, even as a ballplayer, Ossee had issues with others in hotels.  He was Rube Waddell's personal catcher and roommate on road trips, and got so fed up with the pitcher's night time eating routine that he insisted on a "No crackers in bed" rule for Waddell's contract.  Waddell signed it, and animal crackers were never an issue for the two again.

In terms of career stats, Schreckengost had a lifetime career slash of .271/.297/.345 over 11 seasons.  He's known mostly for catching Addie Joss' perfect game in his final professional game, which is quite the way to finish a career for a catcher.

And Ossee Schreckengost is quite the way to finish off Ballot Eight, which is now complete with his addition to the site!  So next week I'll post up the poll and we'll see if we can add some names to the Truly Great portion of the Great Sports Name Hall of Fame!

To see the best sports names of all time, visit the Truly Great Names page.
To see some good sports names that were voted out, visit the Good Names page.
To see the current voting ballot, visit the Ballot page.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

COMC Walkthroughs - More on offers, including Auto Accept and a list of specific Auto Accepts by COMC-er

So in my initial COMC walkthrough post, I mentioned the ability to make offers on cards.  It's a pretty basic part of the site, and I think most people realize it's there, but there's a misunderstanding around offers I wanted to clear up and a trick involving offers that I wanted to share, so those'll be the subject of this post.  I'll also include a list of sellers with known auto accepts to help you all get the best deals.  Hopefully this post will be helpful in some way!

The Misunderstanding:
Now on COMC, the highest offer you can offer on a card is 50% of the asking price, regardless of what it is.  So for a $100 card, the most you can offer is $50.  And on a $5 card the lowest you can offer is $2.50.  I'll demonstrate that with this Paul LoDuca card, where I click make an offer:

When I make an offer here, COMC lets me know that $2.50 is the lowest I can offer on this card.  It will either say something about how $2.50 is the lowest, or how the seller is not accepting offers right now - both mean the same thing:

I think this is an important thing to share, because some people see the lowest price is $2.50 and that message, and they think, "Man, this seller is a jerk who doesn't accept offers!"  But more often than not, it's just that the card is already at or beyond the offer threshold and that's why $2.50 is the minimum.  This won't always be the case (as we'll see with the card I use my trick on) but as I said it usually is.  So don't always let this discourage you from making future offers because you never know!

The Offer Trick:
So when you find a card you like, it's always nice to make an offer first instead of buying outright.  You'll need an account and all that to do so, which I detailed in that first walkthrough, but then you just click "make offer" under the card like I do below:

When I get to that next make an offer screen, what I always like to do is offer something BELOW 50% of the asking price.  Like I said above, it can't be accepted, and the seller won't see your offer as a result, but it does show you the lowest offer a seller will accept on a given card/set of cards.  Like below:

So with this card here, I found out that it's a $2.50 card and the most the seller will accept in an offer is 40% off, or $1.50.  There's no way to know that the seller will officially accept a 40% offer, but this gives me a better starting point for my offer than simple guessing.

With some sellers, I might go straight with the lowest possible offer of 40% off.  With others, I might say "So 40% off is his max - I'll try 30% off and see if offering 10% above his minimum makes the offer more palatable.  Everyone has their own strategy with what kind of offer they make, but it definitely helps to have the most information about a seller before you offer, and this little trick will give you that extra bit of information!

Sellers with Known Auto-Accepts:
So if you've read along this far, you finally get rewarded with my little self-kept list of known Auto-Accepts in the COMC world.  Auto-Accepts are awesome because instead of offering $2.50 and then waiting around for a week, COMC automatically accepts your offer for a given seller if they have the option turned on.  I've gotten a lot of good steals based on knowing people's Auto-Accepts, whether through them advertising it or me discovering it through my trick, so I figured I'd share my list with anyone on my blogroll as well so you guys will be able to always get the best price with these sellers.

Here's the list for ya'll - I'll try to keep it current as sellers alter the numbers they accept, but it'll always be most current on the Blowout Forums post that this list comes from:

50% Auto accept:

40% Auto accept:
darin2200 (Considering offers up to 50% off, $0.25 minimum offer)

25% Auto accept:
colls69 (Considering offers up to 50% off)
OldPaper (Considering offers up to 40% off)

20% Auto accept:
Affordable (Currently running 30% off sale)
ga5150 (considering offers up to 50% off)
Jonathan M (considering offers up to 35% off, accepting all offers for cards $9.99 or less)
Swipe79 (considering offers up to 30% off)
tdbaseballcards ($0.50 minimum offer, considering offers up to 38% off)
The700Level (considering offers up to 50% off)
thebrett (running a 25% off sale throughout the end of August)

15% Auto accept:
XtremePaul (considering offers up to 50%)

10% Auto accept:
iluvfish2 (Auto Reject is at 40%, but will almost always counter any offers)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Madden '04 Monday - Peppi Zellner

Name: Hunndens Guiseppi "Peppi" Zellner

Real Life Image: 

Game Image: 
(Zellner is actually a Redskin in Madden '04)

Example of Bowers on Cardboard:
Zellner has 11 cards, all variations of his 2005 Topps Total card he shares with Russell Davis.  Here is the base from

No videos pop up when you search for Zellner.  So instead, here's a clip of the Cowboys playing 2003 NFL Blitz.  I don't think Zellner is in the game...but hey Blitz!

Team and Position on Depth Chart in Madden '04: Zeller is a Redskin in Madden '04, and he's their backup LE.  He's a 28 year old with a 65 rating, backing up Renaldo Wynn, a 28 year old with a 74 rating.

Some Notable Ratings: Zellner is slightly below average in every single stat other than his terrible 60 speed.  His 56 awareness is okay for an end, his 64 acceleration is okay for an end, and his 74 tackle is - you guessed it - okay for an end.

Professional Career: Zellner barely even made it to the pros in the first place.  After a solid high school performance, he moved on to college at Georgia, but academic issues caused him to move to a Military College.  He then transferred to Fort Valley State but eligibility issues meant he played basketball instead of football.  He did lead the team to its first conference championship in around 30 years, so that was cool, but he barely seemed a football player at the time.

He still was at the combine though, and a bunch of good combine stats (including the 2nd fastest 40 for a lineman) tantalized the Cowboys into selecting him in the 4th round in 1999.  That turned out to be an unwise choice, as Zellner spent four meh years in Dallas, highlighted by three sacks in 15 starts in 2001.  The Redskins signed him for 2003, but a year later he was in Oakland, and then Oakland traded him with Troy Hambrick to Arizona for a draft pick.  Zellner then got to play all 16 games in 2004 in his final year in Arizona before falling out of the league.

Why do I remember him? It's all about the name.  I usually went for speed or strength in my backups, and Zeller had neither, so I picked him solely for his name.  I've never had a real great season with him, but he's basically always been around on my teams.  One fun fact on his name - aside from being a version of his middle name, his Mom claims the name stuck because he was "a real stinker like Pepe LePew."  Neat.