Rebuilding a Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Disaster

There comes a pivotal point in everyone’s life where one must undergo deep introspection and admit things can’t stay the way they are. This applies to my uncertain career path and complete lack of social life, but I’m talking specifically about a fantasy baseball dynasty squad in desperate need of a complete rebuild.

Apathy is a fantasy baseball manger’s greatest detriment, and I let it bog me down for years. That, however, was when I actually had stuff to do in college. Now I’m home watching Netflix, twiddling my thumbs and staring into the abyss of a barren roster that bottomed out.

I don’t have many talents. Maybe this isn’t one of them either, but I know I’m not terrible at fantasy baseball. In this 18-team head-to-head league, missing the eight-team playoffs constitutes my idea of failure. So when I finished the 2015 season stuck in dead last—I can’t remember finishing last in any league since I joined my dad’s annual re-draft league in middle school—I was smacked in the face with a call to action. It’s time to turn this sucker around.

I also, however, don’t want to make quick, dirty fixes to instead place 12th, so patience is necessary. If I’m going to suck, I’m going to suck while blooming a future winner. After idly watching my roster age for years, it’s time for change. Other than Paul Goldschmidt and Madison Bumgarner, young stars in their prime who will take Godfather offers to move, anyone is fair game.

To show I mean business, I already executed three deals with Opening Day two months away. Here’s my thought process behind each maneuver.

 

Trade 1

I Give: Starlin Castro and Hunter Strickland

I Get: Steven Souza, Mat Latos, Carson Smith, Miguel Castro, Matt Boyd and 5th-round prospect pick

I opened the offseason by rearranging seats rather than burning the building for insurance money. This isn’t necessarily a rebuilding move, as Starlin Castro and Hunter Strickland will be 26 and 27, respectively, on Opening Day, but I landed 20-something talents at positions of grave need.

I’m also getting a lot of spare parts at the tail end. A Round 5 pick in a five-round draft is virtually a scratch-off ticket, but one I can use on a high-upside prospect a year or two away from rising up the rankings as someone a year or two away from making an impact. It’s no guarantee Miguel Castro and/or Matt Boyd make the final cut, but they definitely weren’t making the other guy’s final cut. I didn’t give anything extra to seize them.

A bit early to give up on Starlin Castro in a dynasty? Perhaps, but his value relies heavily on name recognition and a move to the Big Apple. Even after a late surge last summer, he hit a paltry .265/.296/.375 with 11 long balls and five steals. After stealing 25 bags in 2012, he has poached 18 bases in three combined seasons. Sorry if I’m not excited about a guy who can record 13 homers and seven steals.

As for Yankee Stadium fixing him, there’s only so much a small ballpark can do. Playing on a little-league field won’t cure last season’s 54.1 ground-ball percentage and 11.3 pop-up rate. He’s not going to exploit Yankee Stadium’s short porch if he can’t direct the ball beyond the infield.

Besides, I’m not quitting on him as much as investing in other guys I like. I ended the season with Joc Pederson, Nick Markakis, Ben Paulsen and Chris Coghlan as my outfielders, so Steven Souza offers an immediate upgrade with 20-20 upside. If he can fake his way to a .240 average and stay on the field in light of the Tampa Bay Rays acquiring Corey Dickerson—which happened after I got Souza—he’ll match or exceed Castro’s value.

Strickland has a clearer path to a closer’s role than Carson Smith, but Smith sported a 2.31 ERA, 11.81 K/9 and 64.8 ground-ball percentage. He’ll help out my ratios as an elite middle reliever as I cross my fingers for him somehow, somewhere finding his way back into the ninth inning.

Don’t sleep on Mat Latos. I got him as a throw-in, but I’m hoping he makes this exchange worthwhile. The 28-year-old’s stock is way down after accruing a 4.95 ERA and 1.31 ERA in 2015. In a free-agent market where Ian Kennedy netted a $70-million deal, the righty hasn’t found a new home.

He’s an ideal low-risk gamble for fantasy and MLB franchises alike. Despite the down year, he recorded a 3.72 FIP while masking red flags from 2014. While he wasn’t the ace of old, he upticked his average fastball velocity, strikeout percentage and swinging-strike percentage after enduring career lows in all categories the previous years:

  • 2014: 90.7 MPH FB, 17.6 K %, 8.1 SwSt %
  • 2015: 91.5 MPH FB, 20.2 K %, 9.9 SwSt %

I don’t have much in my rotation beyond Bumgarner, Taijuan Walker and Rick Porcello. (At least I’ll get another few months of Bartolo Colon on the Mets.) In the right environment, Latos can make a solid No. 4 or 5 starter in an 18-team league. Just keep him away from the Braves.

 

Trade 2

I Give: Brandon Phillips

I Get: 2016 3rd round pick (No. 52 Overall) and 2017 4th

A successful fantasy manager weeds out personal biases, operating as a cold-calculated machine rather than an irrational fool.  Then again, fantasy baseball is a silly game. It’s supposed to be fun, and rooting for people whom you don’t like is no fun.

I don’t like Brandon Phillips.

It’s baffling to see a professional baseball hitter—albeit a successful one—say he doesn’t pay attention to on-base percentage. This is no longer an advanced stat for Moneyball nerds blogging in their mom’s basement—I have my own room upstairs, thank you very much. It’s a rudimentary stat included in TV broadcasts and traditional box scores.

My league uses the traditional five-by-five categories, but reaching base more means more base-stealing and run-scoring opportunities. Phillips drew walks in 4.3 percent of his plate appearances. Then there was callously cursing out a Cincinnati Reds reporter doing his job by pointing out the veteran’s his indifference to plate discipline. What a class act that Brandon is.

Phillips’ .315 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and 96 weighted runs-created plus (wRC+) both depict his 2015 campaign as slightly below average at the plate. From a fantasy perspective, however, he provided considerable value by hitting .294 with 12 homers and 23 steals.

I’m not buying it. Don’t think a career .274 hitter flirts with .300 again. Can’t see him sniffing 20 steals again during a season in which he turns 35. He poached seven combined bags in 2013 and 2014 and averaged 15 from 2010-2012.

How did I end up with a guy I obviously dislike? He was part of a convoluted trade last July where I parted with a few veterans (Matt Holliday and Dan Haren among others). He wasn’t the key return, and I planned to flip him all along. So I shipped him out to the first willing buyer, acquiring two picks in our five-round prospect draft. (Available MLB players are also on the table. Other than a reliever stumbling into a closer’s gig, there’s usually no veterans of significant interest.)

Neither the No. 52 pick this year nor a fourth-rounder next year is much of a loss for a contender looking for a stop-gap upgrade. Yet I have nothing better to do than copiously research prospects in hopes of hitting the jackpot late. Some names taken outside the top 50 last year: Alex Reyes, Brett Phillips, Manuel Margot, Gleyber Torres and Orlando Arcia.

In retrospect, I’m worried I might have made this trade just for the sake of doing something. When you know something needs fixing, taking any action feels better than remaining a hopeless spectator. Of course, not every move is for the better.

Yet inaction has put me in this pickle. If I held out and didn’t receive a suitable offer, a .265, 12-12 season would rob the veteran of any remaining luster. On the other hand, I mistakenly thought Ketel Marte or Asdrubal Cabrera still had second-base eligibility, and I also sent Castro packing. Looks like I may open the season with Wilmer Flores (part of the trade where I acquired Phillips) as my starting second baseman. Whoops. This was my most Sam Hinkie move of the trio. Trust the process.

 

Trade 3:

I Give: Adrian Beltre

I Get: Jorge Soler

*I also give a conditional 2017 3rd round pick if Soler hits more than 22 home runs this season

From both a real-life and fantasy perspective, Adrian Beltre rarely receives the respect he deserved. A career .285/.377/.477 hitter with a stellar glove at the hot corner, he’s a deserving Hall of Famer who found new life as a top-shelf fantasy third baseman from 2010 onward. He spent all those years raking for my club, and for that I am truly grateful.

He’s also an old man. Beltre will turn 37 in early April, and I’m not contending any time soon. His slugging percentage and home-run tallies have dipped each of the past three years, and he hit below .295 (only .287) for the first time since 2009. As a productive veteran with existing, yet gradually diminishing value, he had to go. Given my lack of marketable veterans, getting a significant return for him was crucial to my rebuild. I hope to have found my man in Jorge Soler.

The Chicago Cubs outfielder likely wouldn’t have been available last year after generating a .573 slugging percentage in 97 rookie plate appearances. Yet in a larger sample size, he clubbed a tame .262/.324/.399, hitting 10 homers in 101 games with an alarming 30.0 strikeout percentage.

I used those season setbacks as a buying opportunity. A small sample size tricked re-drafters into overpaying last year, so they’ll treat his postseason dominance (9-for-19, 3 2Bs, 3 HRs, 6 BBs) with skepticism. But hey, it happened. Blend those stats with his 404 regular-season plate appearances, and his slash line soars to .273/.340/.434.

He doesn’t get cheated at the plate, belting a 27.8 line-drive percentage and 35.9 hard-hit percentage during the regular season. Although he won’t hit for a high average without fixing his strikeout woes, he’ll make the most of his batted balls, which puts him in line to hit around .270-.280.

That conditional third-round pick—an interesting idea issued by my trade partner—is no mere throw-in. The first two deals demonstrated my desire for accumulating assets, and another horrid season will make that an early third. Joe Ross and Raisel Iglesias were among two of the last winter’s opening third-round selections. Then again, if Soler smashes 23 or more dingers, I’ll be too ecstatic about landing a young building block to mind the loss.

So long, old friend. Hello, new pal. Hopefully we form a strong bond over the years as you one day lead a new battalion back to the Promised Land. Or at least the playoffs.

Note: Advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs 

Love Actually from a Cynical Jerk’s Perspective

The holidays are a magically boring time of year where inventive original programming goes out the window in place of the same dozen formulaic Christmas movies.

Escaping the usual suspects—those cable channels should play The Usual Suspects instead—is futile, but I had somehow dodged the most polarizing one for this long. As an outside spectator, Love Actually loomed large as a massive human divider. The Nickelback of holiday flicks and John Cena of romance romps, most people either to religiously adore it or detest it with a burning passion.

Because I’m a cynical asshole, I could have reached a logical conclusion I’d fall on the dislike side. But unlike Cena, I realized I indeed could see it when it randomly popped up on Netflix. It even topped the list on my recommendations. Netlifx has led me astray before, but it typically has my best interest at heart. (Also, I was lonely and had nothing else to do on a Tuesday night but shut up this isn’t about my problems.)

No, I didn’t quite enjoy a sappy Christmas movie which was really just about a bunch of attractive English people who wanted to sleep with each other. But it’s somehow a quintessential showcase of love because people are desperate to feel fuzzy inside around the holidays. I also quickly confirmed that it’s incapable of indifferently watching this, so I have a lot of thoughts I need to get out for all four of you lunatics who are actually reading. If you’re not going to humor me by reading these running thoughts WHEN IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS, when will you?

WARNING: The following incoherent rant contains spoilers and foul language. Also, I never took the time to learn any of the characters’ names.


Oh dear, we’re starting with a voiceover about 9/11. OK? Got to say, I didn’t expect this cheesy British Christmas love film to begin by talking about 9/11. Congrats to the writer for since finding a sweet gig as every politician’s speech writer!

It’s too early to genuinely know if the old musician weary of packaging a crappy song under the guise of Christmas is supposed to be meta. Isn’t it the worst when everyone throws Christmas lights on the same old thing and we’re stuck with that subpar thing for every December until the end of time?

If this goes south, at least Liam Neeson and Rick Grimes are here to clear house.


We got a Creepy Guy who hits on two clearly uninterested women. Naturally, he determines that every English girl in the world is awful and it’s all their fault for not loving his douchey ways. Maybe you just suck? But nah, going to the United States seems like a perfectly logical solution to your problem of being generally insufferable.  It’s like Principal Skinner deciding that he’s not out of touch, but rather every child is wrong for not sharing his ideology.

What happens after Christmas that the office woman must declare her love to her office crush now? Is the world ending on Dec. 26? Is that a plot point that comes later, or did I miss something during the opening montage?


Liam Neeson: Hey kid, I know your mom just died, but why are you so sad? It can’t still be the dead mom thing, right?

Kid: Nah, it’s far worse than never seeing my mom again. I’m in LOVE.

Neeson: Oh, terrific. What a normal response to a traumatic event. You’re coping with this fantastically. Let’s get you laid, sport.

So the kid saw a cute girl—a girl he has never actually spoken to or doesn’t know at all—and immediately forgot about the opening scene of his mom’s funeral which really just seemed like a segue to transition back to the wedding of Rick Grimes’ friend. Maybe take a week or two before making your stupid childhood crush the No. 1 priority? For a movie about love, the characters sure don’t care about family.


Prime Minister Hugh Grant is smitten with a new office assistant. Good for him! You know, until he creates a potential conflict with his nation’s greatest ally because he might have walked in on U.S President Billy Bob Thorton harassing said crush. Billy Bob is a scummy asshole who couldn’t possibly get elected president of the United States (I regretfully redact that last part after remembering Donald Trump), but it’s also inconclusive if he was pushing the issue or she was going for it too. If it’s the latter, the Prime Minister just called out the fricken President of the United States out of jealousy. I hope this movie ends with both sides engaging in The Great War of I Called Dibs.


Why is Colin Firth writing outside on a typewriter on a windy day right near the water? Why does he have an entire desk set up outside right near the water? The movie came out in 2003. Computers with word processors were a thing by then, right?

Surprise, his pages of writing were blown into the water. Who could have seen that coming? Then his housekeeper takes off her clothes, and it’s love at first sight of the woman he can’t even understand because she doesn’t speak English removing her clothing to clean up his mess. You know it’s true love once the woman you can’t even converse with turns out to have a nice body when only donning her undergarments.

Note: Louie, a show I enjoy, did a similar story without the 1800s French cottage. But there at least was an underlying appreciation for the absurdity of their flawed relationship.


Plot twist: Rick Grimes (or whoever Andrew Lincoln is playing here) isn’t secretly gay and in love with his best friend. He’s in love with Keira Knightley. And by love, he finds Keira Knightley attractive like every other heterosexual man in the universe. Let’s hope she leaves her husband for the guy who’s a complete asshole to her but shows how much he cares by stalking her throughout her wedding.

I guess acting like a total prick to a perfectly nice person for “self-preservation” helped him once the walkers came.


The kid’s crush is going to the U.S. (Dear Lord, keep her away from the Creepy Guy who changed countries in hopes of having sex.) His completely reasonable response to the girl he admires from a distance going home: “That’s the end of my life as we know it.” Hey champ, a bit dramatic from someone no-selling his mom’s death THAT JUST HAPPENED.

Goodbye Colin Firth, You’re a real slow driver and can’t type for shit. But there’s real slow piano music playing and I can’t say for sure whether you’ve insulted me to my face since we don’t speak the same language, so I’m going to kiss you.


Love Actually is the wrong title for this movie. Lust Actually. Infatuation Actually. Too Many God Damn Characters to Form a Meaningful Connection to Any of Them Actually. It’s just a bunch of good-looking people who would very much like to have sex with each other. Granted I’m the worst source imaginable on love, but none of this seems like love in the slightest.


The married man pay 270 pounds (Is that a lot? I’m too lazy to look up the conversion rates) to get laid by his younger employee who already did everything but shout “Let’s have sex!” on a megaphone. How did he go from resisting her passes to spending money on a fancy necklace in order to get into her lady parts? Also, who is this guy again?  


Creepy Guy initiates the dumbest plan in the history of civilization, AND IT FUCKING WORKS IMMEDIATELY. He goes to a random, mostly empty bar in the middle of Wisconsin, and of course the only three people there are three beautiful women enamored by his slight English accent. WHAT THE SHIT? Why are you rewarding his shallow stupidity?

This has to end with them robbing him. Or him saying something stupid (as he’s wont to do every other word) that drives them away. People like me have to live every goddamn second with crippling self doubt, and this asshole travels to a different country, stumbles into a Milwaukee bar on the off chance he’ll meet an American women charmed by his being from England. And three promiscuous women just all happen to be right there and ready to meet that to a fucking tee? Also, do all three of them regularly sleep in the bed together when not being a lonely screenwriter’s fantasy of sex objects who don’t exist in real life?


It’s not a good sign for your movie if I begin every scene thinking, “Oh, I forgot about them. I wonder what they’re up .. Eh I really don’t care.”


Welp, we’re at the scene with Rick Grimes and giant cue cards. For something referenced every second, this better not suck….

….Well that totally sucked. Let’s break down what happened.

Hey girl I barely know, your husband and my best friend (I think?) is right in the other room, but let me show you pictures of women I hope to bang because you won’t bang me.

I don’t have an agenda, but let me continue this grand gesture just for kicks! Just because it’s Christmas…(WHAT IN THE BLUE HELL HAPPENS AFTER CHRISTMAS?!? Why is everyone on such a tight deadline to declare their love before Christmas? Is this another Walking Dead prequel where everyone knows the zombie outbreak begins on Dec. 25? Did they get Christmas confused with Valentine’s Day? Would anything about this movie change if every mention of “Christmas” was replaced with “Valentine’s Day”? Or Thanksgiving, Easter or Columbus Day?)

“To me, you are perfect.” – Dude, have you ever had an actual conversation with her? Do you know anything about Keira Knightley other than “She’s super pretty”? Maybe she’s just aesthetically perfect and you’re willing to ruin your best friend’s marriage for no good reason.

At least he ends with I’ll forever love you, until you’re no longer attractive, because that’s the only trait I love about you. Where are the walkers when you need them?


Wait, is the old musician in love with his manager? Or is he just saying “I love you, man. You’re my best friend.”? Seriously, I’m turning off the snark for minute. I sincerely don’t know.


Hugh Grant is the Prime Minister. I’m pretty sure the Prime Minister has the resources to look up a home address instead of going door to door. But he eventually finds Natalie—I actually remembered a name!—and typical romance shenanigans ensue.

So Natalie’s whole deal that everyone except Hugh Grant thinks she’s fat even though she’s clearly not. I don’t think overweight women are allowed to play Hugh Grant’s love interest in Christmas movies.


Hey look, those unrelated characters are loosely connected by something that doesn’t advance or enhance the story in any way.


Liam Neeson’s kid’s love interest totally nailed “All I Want for Christmas”. She’s way out of your league, buddy. But afterwords, Neeson explains to the kid how he’ll always love his mother. Two seconds later, he bumps into a blonde lady with blue eyes and now he’s in love with her instead. Isn’t love magical?

Nobody is perturbed by the Prime Minister making out behind the curtains of a school musical? No? Well OK then. Carry on.


Colin Firth is going from not speaking the language to taking a few lessons to proposing marriage. To the woman he hasn’t actually had a discussion with due to the language barrier. There are so many questions to ask before “Will You Marry me?” What about “Are you racist?” or “What is literally one thing about you because I know literally zero things about you?” Oh wait, he needs to do it NOW. Because it’s CHRISTMAS, and if he’s not going to hastily jump into an irrational life decision on CHRISTMAS, then when will he? Two days after Christmas? Fat chance, pal.


In a post 9/11 movie, the kid is Home Aloneing an entire airline security staff to say goodbye to a girl he has never said hello to. In the greatest victory of all, she acknowledged his existence, which is really all any of us want at the end of the day. She also kissed him on the cheek and now she’s gone and he’s alone again. Love is magical, guys.

Come on, Firth, at least get her language down pat before making what will almost certainly become the biggest mistake of your life and hers.


Creepy Guy got no comeuppance. Not only that, he’s now dating another hot girl he met outside of his foursome featuring January Jones and Elisha Cuthbert. This would be the equivalent of Games of Thrones ending with Joffrey murdering Tyrion and Arya before living happily-ever-after with Margaery Tyrell.

She also brought along another woman for his friend back home, the one who rightfully called him a dumb asshole for enacting the DUMBEST PLAN IN THE HISTORY OF FILM. So she just went to another country to settle down with a complete stranger. Because Creepy Guy vouched for him. And she kisses him before a proper introduction. And all is well and this isn’t weird at all.

This movie HATES American people more than I hate this movie. From President Billy Bob Sexual Harassment to every American woman existing as a brainless sex robot, this entire thing is just revenge for every American actor who has ever used a terrible English accent.

OK, maybe I’m projecting some personal insecurities on Creepy Guy, but I would pay to see a sequel where Dumb American Woman No. 4 leaves him after finding out he has contracted every STD known to man. Liam Neeson could take the wedding ring off his dead wife’s corpse and give it to New Blonde Lady as they make love on her tombstone, and it wouldn’t offend me as much as Creepy Guy not getting met with reality.


Rick Grimes just went right back to being the third wheel. Again, I don’t claim to know how love works. But here’s his entire plot arc:

Hey, I love you. Don’t tell your husband/my best friend. Phew, all better now. You guys want to grab some drinks Saturday?

At least he gets his comeuppance when Shane steals his family. Serves you right, dick.


You may be wondering if I forgot about the office couple. I did, but so did the writers. Why were they the only ones not to get a cheesy happy-ever-after ending?

You also may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned the body doubles who met filming a sex scene. They seem nice. I hope those crazy kids stay together.

The All “What Am I Missing?” List

The universe would be a boring place if everyone liked and disliked the same things. Even so, it’s hard not to look at certain popular people, places, food, events and media and wonder, “What am I missing?”

If so many people adore something I don’t, is something wrong with me? Maybe, maybe not, probably yes. After all, I’m about to judge stuff when my only real interests include fantasy sports, Game of Thrones and random rambling that nobody will read.

Fair warning: This list is all over the place. I’m neutral to some, dismayed at others, and some complaints will sound like Abe Simpson yelling at clouds. And if I’ve acknowledged a passion of yours, don’t take it personally, dear imaginary reader. With exception to the second-last inclusion, perhaps I’ll grow to see the light.

 

Horse Racing

Do the horses know they’re racing? Are they happy when they emerge victorious and downtrodden when they fall short? Do they have any idea that they’re winning or losing? Was American Pharoah just trying to get jockey Victor Espinoza off his ass the whole time while winning the Triple Crown?

Better yet, how has horse racing not yet run into intensified Internet outrage over whipping animals for sport? And in a world where he have the technology to fly across the world through the fricken sky, how is riding a horse still a captivating sport? When you’re a step down from NASCAR, you’re not in the best shape.

 

Friends

The TV sitcom, not the concept of human companionship. I have a confession: I’m just now working my way around to watching Friends. Filling a cavernous pop-culture gap, I’m roughly midway through the second season, and I’m not sure why I keep watching.

It’s fine. A warm, easy watch that offers some silly chuckles and moments of greater substance every now and then. But likes its modern successor, How I Met Your Mother, it’s a solid comedy that wouldn’t sneak its way into my favorites list.

Perhaps I’m too spoiled by newer lightning-fast joke factories like 30 Rock and Veep to go back to a multi-cam, laugh-track 90s sitcom. And perhaps Community and Bojack Horseman have widened my appetite for weirder and darker humor. Who knows how I’d feel if I had watched Friends earlier.

Right now, Ross is annoying and kind of a jerk. His interest in Rachel comes of as creepy infatuation rather than love. Joey is slimy, but every friend ensemble has one of those. Chandler has just made quips in the background for all but two or three of the episodes I’ve seen so far. Monica’s “I’m already in my mid-20s and I’m not even married with children” shtick feels especially outdated. And boy is Phoebe dumb. The writers eventually give her a brain, right?

Also, Ross is way too handsy with Monica. Dude, stop touching your sister so much.

 

Friends

The concept of human companionship, not the TV sitcom. I’m sure other people are great and all, but I just never learned how to form and maintain relationships with other human beings. Oh well!

 

T-Shirt Tosses

Who has ever worn an oversized T-shirt advertising some plumbing company that they procured (for free!) at a sporting event? When a person dressed as an animal about to pass out from overbearing heat starts tossing out clothing, why does everyone collectively lose their minds as if the fabric contains the secret to happiness or the cure to every disease?

(Note: I wanted to include the clip when Marge Simpson responded to “Who wants a T-Shirt?” with “I do! Wait…I don’t” and sat down, but I couldn’t find it.)

 

Not Putting Back Weights in Proper Spot At Gym

Were all those matching games from childhood for naught? Surely it’s not hard for an adult to know that 25-pound dumbbells belong in the designated area labeled with the 25 numeral. (Yeah I know I’m a weakling. Shut up.) Not only do people mess this up, they mess it up all the time.

This is bothering me so much that I recently spent two minutes rearranging all the disorganized dumbbells. Even though it didn’t affect the weights I was using in any way. Maybe I’m the nut in that scenario, but I genuinely don’t understand how a grown person can bungle this easy task. This isn’t even an attack on lazy jerks who just leave weights on the ground, but people who fail at matching a number with its equal.

 

Italian Food

It seems like there isn’t a culture’s cuisine more universally adored, and I don’t care for any of it. Well, besides pizza. I’m not a monster.

 

Kevin Hart

This is Dane Cook all over again. Kevin Hart has somehow parlayed running around the stage and wailing his arms around into a wildly successful stand-up career, which he has further transitioned into movies. Movies in which people pay money to see him act in a leading role.

I’m sure Cook and Hart are perfectly nice dudes. Maybe they’re the funniest guys in their respective group of friends, the life-of-the-party types who loosen the mood and always find their way at the center of the crowd’s attention. But neither tells particularly funny jokes with actual punchlines. Isn’t that how comedy usually works?

 

Hashtags

Admittedly, this is the most grumpy of all of these. Ranting against hashtags is meant for 54-year-olds, not a 24-year-old who writes for a sports website typifying new-age media, but nothing irks me more than the overuse of these unnecessary space-fillers.

They look atrocious, and 90 percent of the time they add nothing to the conversation. It’s especially irritating when someone uses them with reckless abandon. Really, are the “#Mets falling in #NLEast because of their injuries #Wright #Murphy #dArnaud #NoOffense #SMH #ImDyingontheInside”? What did hashtags add to that jumbled mess? Use your words. Actual English words.

#IKnowIJustSaidIDislikeDaneCookButIListenedToHimonComedyBangBangOneTimeAndWasPleasantlySurprised #HeCameoffAsGenuinelySincereAndILeastStartedToRespectHimMoreAsAPersonCommittedtoHisCraft #HostScottAukermanMadeAGoodPointAboutWelcomingHimOn #BecauseWhoIsHetoJudgeAndSayAnExtremelyPopularComedianHasNoMeritBecauseSomePeopleDontCareForHim #CookStillIsntForMeButImSurePlentyofPeopleCantStandLouisCK #ResentingAnybodysSuccessisAPettyAndDarkWaytoLiveSoCongratsDane #ThisIsIncrediblyToughtoTypeIRegretCapitalizingEachFirstWordButItWouldHaveBeenEvenTougherToReadOtherwise #IfYoureStillReadingGiveYourselfAHandHellGoRewardYourselfWithaCookieYouDeserveItChamp #YOLO

 

Confederate Flags

As a Knicks fan, I can somewhat relate to people refusing to give up on the Confederacy. Both are terrible losers hanging on to misguided principles for far too long–it’s goinking pretty well for the Warriors, Phil. Both are embarrassments to humanity, but I still wear Knicks shirts despite their awfulness. Especially the one with the 90s lineup (Starks, Houston, Johnson, Oakley and Ewing) in 8-bit. Love that shirt.

But if James Dolan decided to force his black players into unpaid labor, I’m 99.99 percent sure I’d stop wearing Knicks apparel. If they joined forces with the Eastern Conference in hopes of not paying black players, only to get their asses kicked by the Western Conference (especially when LeBron switches side to the West. Good lucky Delly!) and get banished from the NBA, I’m 100 percent sure I’d shamefully bury any evidence of every cheering for the Knicks and buy myself a Stephen Curry jersey.

I wouldn’t be caught dead representing the losing side of a shameful moment in NBA history. Hell, I wouldn’t even wear that 8-bit shirt, and that’s my favorite god damn shirt.

 

Workaholics

This is the most perplexing entry on the list to me. Hell, it’s probably my inspiration for making the list. Everyone around me with similar taste in TV enjoys Workaholics. The stars keep popping up on several of my favorite shows–Blake Anderson appeared on Community, Arrested Development and Parks and Recreation. They’re clearly highly regarded among fellow comedy nerds, so what am I missing?

From what I’ve seen, it’s an uneven, inconsistent attempt at replicating It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with millennial stoners instead of raging alcoholics. It just didn’t do it for me. When I saw an episode that intrigued me, I’d get quickly disappointing by the next, pushing me right back to square one.

Hey, we all don’t have to like the same things. But when it comes to Workaholics, I just can’t shake the feeling that I must be missing something. Maybe one day down the road I’ll find it while giving it another chance.

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