Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fondly Remembered

In May of 2003, Mike Piazza went down with a groin injury, taking his thunderous bat out of the lineup with him. At the time, it struck me how little it actually mattered. The Mets weren't going anywhere particularly good, and Piazza at that point of the season had begun a descent into the latter portion of his career, no longer the elite offensive threat that we were used to him being. His injury, more or less, led to the chain reaction of useless veterans like Jeromy Burnitz and Roberto Alomar being traded away and younger players like Ty Wigginton and Jason Phillips emerged. No, they didn't really have any particular impact on the future of the Mets, but for that season, it was nice to see some new, fresh blood get a chance to prove themselves on a larger stage. It made a bad year interesting.

I bring this instance up because in light of the recent news of Johan Santana's re-injured shoulder and season-ending surgery, I couldn't help but have a similar reaction. A few years ago, this news might have been greeted as an unmitigated catastrophe. But what, realistically, could the most optimistic of Mets fans have forecast for Santana? Behind schedule on rehab, he wouldn't have been on the mound on Opening Day, and even then, what could have been expected? Since arriving in 2008, Santana has pitched out a full season but once, in that first year, and seen his season cut short or cut completely in every year since. It probably was not likely that he would have pitched all season, and even then, it would have likely been at a reduced rate of success than we were used to seeing, perhaps something out of latter-years Pedro Martinez, plus a period of time when he'd probably need extra rest. Best case scenario was that he would be healthy, have a solid first half of the season, and the Mets would trade him for a prospect, because give that 2013 was his walk year, it was almost certain that 2013 would be his last with the Mets.

Unfortunately, it won't even get that far. It was a real longshot for Santana to come back from the initial shoulder surgery, one which had never been performed on a Pitcher and required a painstaking amount of rehab, and even then, a return to effectiveness was not guaranteed. But when Santana came back and looked just as good as ever, I'm sure it was easy to forget just what he was trying to overcome. What he was able to accomplish in 2012 was nothing short of amazing, but just as he reached his peak—Throwing his No Hitter—the magic ran out just as quickly, leaving Santana at a career crossroads.

It's likely that we've seen the last of Johan in a Mets uniform, and that's a shame in and of itself. The Mets were never good enough around him to carry the team to the level we hoped. But in the process, Santana certainly provided a multitude of great moments and great memories that will far outweigh the negatives or the feeling of unfulfillment. He owns two of the greatest single-game pitching performances in Mets History. Even when he wasn't making history or saving the Mets asses, he was doing something interesting, and I always think of a pair of other games that get lost amidst those moments of higher prestige. One such game came in September of 2008, on a Sunday night against the Phillies. Sure, the show was stolen by Carlos Delgado, but it was Santana who gutted it out into the 8th inning against a murderous Philly lineup, trying to protect a lead from an even more frightening Mets bullpen. The second came in July of 2010, against the Reds. In addition to hitting his first career Home Run, Santana pitched a 3-hit shutout. In the 9th inning, Jason Bay dropped a routine fly ball, putting runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out and the tying run at bat. Jerry Manuel came to the mound. Fans were screaming to leave him in the game. Manuel consulted with his ace, and I guess he liked what he heard, because he left Santana in the game. It took Santana all of 2 pitches to finish off the Reds.

Johan Santana took the mound and pitched with his heart and with his head every time out. He may not have a championship to certify his career, but everyone who ever saw him take the mound knows just how good he was. I'm glad we had our time together.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Care About You Less And Less (2013 American League Preview)

For the Baseball Purist such as myself, there is something almost sacred about National League Baseball. To be certain, the oldest surviving Major League provides what I feel is the Thinking Man's game, with nuances and strategy that have filled books and blogs for years. As such, I've grown rather disdainful of the American League and have gone on record calling it all sorts of derisive names. Unfortunately, the American League isn't going anyplace anytime soon and because of the Astros move creating a further imbalance in the schedule, their annoying brand of Baseball will continue to infiltrate the National League, infecting games with the Designated Hitter on a now-daily basis and giving fans of the Designated Fatboy even more of a chance to call for its full-time adoption. That being said, since I have to pay more attention to the American League than I prefer to, I'll offer up my usually ass-backwards team capsules for the Junior Circuit herein.

1) Tampa Bay Rays (93-69)
Certainly, the AL East reasons to be the most competitive in Baseball this season, with 4 of the 5 teams capable of winning the division title. My pick this year is the Rays. Even though they dealt away James Shields, they still have boatloads of quality starting pitching, led by David Price and followed up by Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. Critics of the Rays seem to feel that they can't hit, and perhaps their lineup isn't littered with glamorous names like other teams in their division, but they've got one major star in Evan Longoria and a boatload of Ben Zobrist-types that are generally tough outs.

2) Miami Marlins Toronto Blue Jays (89-73)
Sorry. Since the majority of their roster was procured in the Marlins' massive salary dump, I kind of got confused. The knock on the Blue Jays here is that the Toronto Marlins weren't successful as a unit in Miami last season, so why should they do any better in Toronto? They might not, but the Blue Jays had a reasonably good roster in place to begin with, starting with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, and now they've got some support around them. Plus, Mets fans will be throwing their support behind the Jays, not simply because of a particular division rival, but because of the presence of R.A. Dickey, who'll be taking the ball for them on Opening Day.

3) New York Yankees (87-75)
I know that the faction of spoiled brat Yankee fans who think time began in 1995 are tearing their hair out because Brian Cashman hasn't gone out and annexed Joey Votto to play 1st Base, and my heart just aches sorrowfully for them, but we're finally starting to see the Yankees come back to earth. Their fear of Baseball's new luxury tax has curtailed their generally free-spending nature, which wouldn't be such a big deal if their roster wasn't choking under the massive contracts given to players now beginning to show their age. Let's face it. Jeter's getting old, Rivera's going to retire, Pettitte is old, Sabathia is starting to show signs of wear and Bitch Teixeira is ailing, and that's not even getting to the $275,000,000 White Elephant that's not playing 3rd Base. But we've got to be realistic. The '95ers screaming that this is all of a sudden going to be a 70 win team are mistaken. They are still the Yankees, and they've still got Robinson Cano, and a down year for them may simply be a spot in the AL Wildcard game.

4) Baltimore Orioles (84-78)
Baltimore could conceivably be better this season, with their mostly very young and very talented roster now with the crucible of Playoff Baseball under their belt. But in reality, what will happen is that they're not going to sneak up on teams quite the same way they did in 2012. That said, they're also not going to go back to being the perennial pushover that they'd been for so many years. Buck Showalter and company are a team on the rise in the AL.

5) Boston Red Sox (76-86)
I don't think they'll be quite as embarrassingly bad as last year, but then again that may be because they dealt away a lot of their dead, expensive weight and replaced it with other expensive weight that might not be quite as dead. The lineup has been almost completely turned over since their 2007 World Series Championship, with Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz now joined by my main man Shane Victorino, as well as Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew, but it remains to be seen whether or not they'll be anything resembling a cohesive unit. Two of the three members of the FriedChickenGate Red Sox are still holding positions in their starting rotation, and John Lackey has been nothing but a malcontent since he got to Boston. Bobby Valentine may be gone, but this still won't end well.

1) Detroit Tigers (99-63)
My sense is that they're probably still steaming from their embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Giants in last year's World Series, and with little turnover on their roster, they stand as good a chance as any to get back there again this year. Whorishly talented Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander will lead the way, and let's not overlook the remainder of their rotation, because Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez are pretty damn good in their own right. Let's also not forget that they added something from nothing because Victor Martinez, out all last season with an injury, returns to DH and perhaps spell Prince Fielder at 1st Base. A soft bullpen is their poison pill, but that may not rear its head until October.

2) Chicago White Sox (84-78)
Unfortunately, for a team whose biggest Free Agent addition this offseason was Jeff Keppinger, the White Sox probably aren't going to pose much of a challenge for the Tigers in the Central, or anyone else who aspires to the Wildcard. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to them coming to Citi Field in May, if for no other reason then to welcome their manager, our old friend Robin Ventura, back to New York.

3) Kansas City Royals (82-80)
The Washington Nationals appearance in the 2012 postseason meant that the Royals are now on the schneid as the MLB team with the longest postseason drought. It's been far from a pleasurable journey for the Royals, but, in similar vein to the Pirates, they've managed to finally put together a roster stocked with young impact talent that's beginning to gel and come of age. The nucleus of Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez appear primed to carry the team to the next level. Sensing this, the Royals shrewdly dealt top prospect Wil Myers to Tampa in order to stock a lacking pitching staff with proven winners James Shields and Wade Davis. It may not be enough to put the Royals over the top, but it will make them a legitimate part of the conversation.

4) Cleveland Indians (79-83)
They certainly opened up their wallets, bringing in Free Agents Mike Aviles, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Mark Reynolds, so they'll score runs in boatloads, but their pitching appears to be woefully overmatched and it's going to be a struggle for their mashers to outscore their suckitude.

5) Minnesota Twins (73-89)
The cycle theory that the Twins seem to operate on is on the downside once again. Most of the players that they developed into stars have been dealt off for a new wealth of prospects that are probably a year or two off at best. Unfortunately, this means that the Twins will have to slog through a few more lean years before things get better, and then they have to worry about the productiveness of the stars they managed to keep around, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau (which not coincidentally are probably the only recognizable names on their roster right now).

1) Anaheim Angels (90-72)
For the second year in a row, the Angels went out and landed The marquee Free Agent, adding Josh Hamilton to a lineup headlined by Albert Pujols. Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that this dynamic duo will cruise into October, and they probably will go through the regular season with relative ease, but their pitching might not measure up against some of the teams they stand to meet in October.

2) Oakland Athletics (84-78)
If the A's are going to win, they're going to have to follow the San Francisco Giants model of building around outstanding pitching and an offense that can scrape by doing the absolute minimum, because that's what their roster looks like right now. They won the division last year because their pitchers all got hot at once and their hitters just sort of pecked and scraped their way through everything before the Tigers ultimately got the better of them in the ALDS. Adding Chris Young helps, but for the most part, their comings and goings this offseason were sort of a wash, so it's basically the same group.

3) Texas Rangers (81-81)
How the mighty have fallen. They slumped terribly late in the season, pissed away a division title, slept through the Wildcard Game, and then lost 3 key players via Free Agency, and only responded by adding A.J. Pierzynski, which means that their lineup went from Nelson Cruz as a nice complimentary hitter to Nelson Cruz as the main power source.

4) Seattle Mariners (72-90)
I read somewhere that the Mariners have a somewhat decent pitching staff and I nearly laughed my ass off. The Mariners have one of Baseball's best in Felix Hernandez, that's not up for debate. But how many of you noticed that, at some point during the season last year, they began trotting in Oliver Perez from the bullpen as a lefty specialist? That's right. The Seattle Mariners are depending on Oliver Perez in a role of consequence on the Major League level. Oh, by the way, they also have Jason Bay patrolling the Outfield, in case you needed further laughing material. There's talent behind Hernandez, particularly in Kyle Seager and, if they can get their heads right, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak, but real tangible help probably isn't going to come this season.

5) Houston Astros (49-113)
They'll move to the American League and bring their losses with them. I'm not sure what the hell happened, but over the past few years, the Astros somehow managed to strip themselves of both viable Major League talent and viable Minor League talent, leaving behind a carcass of a franchise that has to rebuild from the bottom up, meaning they'll be fielding a lineup primarily composed of useless veterans and castoffs, combined with raw youngsters that aren't really ready for the rigors of Major League play while they slowly restock their Minor League system. It's not completely barren, they've developed Jose Altuve, who's got a little spark, but taking a team that was already putrid and not only making them switch leagues but plonking them in a division with 3 other quality teams (and let's face it, the Mariners look like the Yankees compared to them) and you've got the perfect storm for disaster.

AL MVP: Evan Longoria, Rays
AL CY YOUNG: Justin Verlander, Tigers (as if this wasn't already a chic pick)
AL ROY: Jurickson Profar, Rangers

AL Wildcard Game: Blue Jays over Yankees
ALDS: Tigers over Blue Jays, Angels over Rays
ALCS: Tigers over Angels

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Missed That Part (2013 National League Preview)

It's been a few years since I did team preview capsules, but with the season now less than a week away, and within the past few days I've partaken in a) an NL-only Fantasy Baseball Draft and b) a trip to Queens that took me past Citi Field coming and going, I figured it's time I get things cracking and get ready for the season. And, what better way than to preview the National League, or, more appropriately, the Mets and 14 other teams I either don't like or don't pay attention to unless they have someone on my fantasy team. I'll keep this as rapid fire as possible. All records are simply an approximation and anything plus or minus 5 wins can be construed as a good job of understanding baseball on my part. So here we go.

1) Washington Nationals (100-62)
They won the division last year handily without a month of Bryce Harper at the beginning and without a month of Stephen Strasburg at the end, and then it all got submarined when their normally reliable bullpen and, particularly, their normally reliable closer Drew Storen flamed out in the 9th inning of the deciding game of the NLDS against St. Louis. Fortunately (or unfortunately, in Storen's case), the Nationals have plenty of other good bullpen arms around in case he's got a hangover. Offensively, not gangbusters, but with the boatload of pitching old friend Davey Johnson has in his arsenal, they don't have to hit a ton to win. Class of the division.

2) Atlanta Braves (87-75)
They're kind of a chic pick right now. It's easy to buy into the Braves, because after shitting the bed in the Wildcard play-in game last year, they went out and made several improvements, most notably bringing in both Upton brothers, giving them an outfield that has the potential to be both wildly talented and incredibly mercurial. Their hype machine has also managed to make everyone believe that Andrelton Simmons is the second coming of Barry Larkin when he's a little closer to being the second coming of Rey Ordonez. They'll win more than they'll lose, but from where I'm sitting, the rotation is kind of thin and while their bullpen is great, a closer look at Craig Kimbrel reveals a dominant pitcher with a mild case of Armando Benitez. They'll contend for one of the Wildcard Game spots, but no more than that.

3) Philadelphia Phillies (84-78)
Let's face it. The Phillies are getting old. Roy Halladay started to break down last year and Cliff Lee was middling, leaving Cole Hamels as the de facto Ace. After missing half the season with injuries, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both struggled to find their prior form, and with the team going nowhere at the trade deadline, several pieces were traded away. Offseason trades to bring in Ben Revere from Minnesota and Michael Young from Texas are intriguing but there's too many holes in the pitching staff to make up for it. Unless somehow Halladay and Lee turn back the clock to 2010.

4) New York Mets (76-86)
I'll spend a lot of time this season talking about it, but 2013 for the Mets is not about 2013. It's about what might happen going forward. And as such, they're not going to be very good this year. The Mets this season are going to be about working through the development of players like Matt Harvey, Ruben Tejada and, eventually, Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud. That said, they'll also be hoping that someone sticks in the outfield and the remainder of the pitching staff doesn't embarrass themselves in the process.

5) Miami Marlins (58-104)
The sell-off that I predicted would happen came much quicker than I thought. It wasn't even halfway through last season that they started trading away their stars, and come the offseason, just about anybody making any kind of money was traded to Toronto. The end result is that the Marlins are pretty much right what they deserve to be: A pissed-off Giancarlo Stanton, a pissed-off Ricky Nolasco, and 23 other players mostly devoid of Major League talent. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people. Jerkoffs.

1) Cincinnati Reds (95-67)
Whether or not Aroldis Chapman starts or closes is academic. The Reds are a good, deep team that has offense to burn. The ascension of Todd Frazier last season to take over for Scott Rolen at 3rd Base and the acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo in the Outfield to go with already established stars like Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce fill out a lineup that doesn't have very many holes and a big chip on their shoulder from a couple of early playoff exits. This could be the year they step forward.

2) St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)
The Cardinals are like one of those Super Mario Bros bosses that you have to keep jumping on and shooting at before you can kill them. No matter how many times they're counted out or left for dead, they somehow manage to put another stupid run together and draw a lot of gushing, overblown praise over what a gutty team of winners they are. I'm completely sick of them, but unfortunately, even though they lost Obi Wan LaRussa and Albert Pujols, they still won, and that team is pretty much still intact, so unless something goes horribly wrong, they'll be right back in the Wildcard Game and they'll probably catch another stupid break somewhere along the way.

3) Pittsburgh Pirates (83-79)
They're not quite there yet, but this is going to be the season that the Pirates finally break their 20-year losing streak. Although their prospect-hoarding methods have foiled them before, they finally seem to have a couple of breakout stars in Andrew McCutchen (perhaps the best player in Baseball that nobody really knows about) and Pedro Alvarez (struck out a ton but did hit 30 HRs), and they've spent a little money to bring in some veteran presence with winning attitudes as opposed to retreads that nobody else wanted. The pitching is somewhat iffy on the back end of their rotation, but if James McDonald can dial it back to the first half of last season, that'll help, and #1 pick Gerrit Cole is about ready to contribute. They're not going to make The Leap just yet, but they'll turn the corner this year.

4) Milwaukee Brewers (80-82)
I find the Brewers painfully boring. Ryan Braun can carry them only so far, and an aging Aramis Ramirez coupled with Corey Hart's carcass and Rickie Weeks' unpredictability doesn't lend itself to much success, even if Carlos Gomez somehow managed to turn into a reasonably productive player. Pitching is a similar story for the Brews. Yovani Gallardo can be great, the problem is he's never consistently great, and the rest of the rotation lacks anything resembling a sexy name.

5) Chicago Cubs (70-92)
Those of us in Metville can take some solace in the train wreck that the Cubs have become, because it happened to them just as quickly as it happened to the Mets. The Cubs went from back-to-back Division Titles in 2007 and 2008 to starting Jeff Samardzija on Opening Day as the headliner of a rotation that includes oft-injured Matt Garza and retreads Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood and Scott Baker, and nobody in particular to save their hide when they inevitably fall flat. There's some interesting names on the offensive side, but before you get too excited, remember that Alfonso Soriano is one of those interesting names.

6) Houston Astros (63-99)
The Astros have become so putrid these past few seasons that it's easy to forget they even exist, particularly since they only play the Mets 6 times a...wait...what? They moved to the American League? Well, shit. Never mind then.

1) San Francisco Giants (93-69)
The Giants have this every-other-year thing going, being that they've won a World Series Championship twice in the past 3 years in spite of the fact that they've been counted out because of a rather unexciting lineup. But, undaunted, they've leaned heavily on a pitching staff that's basically peerless when measured alongside the rest of the National League, and that's even considering that their best pitcher, Tim Lincecum, had an awful year last year and is currently regarded as reclamation project rather than Ace. They capped their season by stopping the pesky Cardinals and the powerful Tigers dead in their tracks and for the most part kept that unit together. They'll be tough to beat.

2) Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71)
The Dodgers spending spree has filled their lineup with some very sexy names, but how often do we see these superteams fail to gel and ultimately fall apart? I'm not of the belief that this will happen to the Dodgers in the same style of, say, the 2012 Miami Marlins, but I also don't think that they've clearly made themselves the favorite. They've already lost one player they were relying on for 2 months in Hanley Ramirez, and they're also banking on three members of the FriedChickenGate Red Sox to carry some of that load. But, that said, they also boast the odds-on MVP in Matt Kemp and the odds-on Cy Young Favorite in Clayton Kershaw. That'll count for something.

3) Arizona Diamondbacks (80-82)
The Diamondbacks are the perfect example of a team stuck in neutral. They have some reasonably talented players and can generate both offense and pitching, but their roster, top to bottom, isn't so talent-laden that they'll be anything more than a nuisance for teams that they play a lot.

4) Colorado Rockies (74-88)
The highlight of the Rockies season in 2012 was when they came into New York in August boasting a record of 46-73 and a mostly minor-league lineup, and swept a 4-game series where the Mets looked so embarrassing, it drove Mike Francesa, who doesn't even root for the Mets, to a 10-minute screaming meltdown.

5) San Diego Padres (71-91)
I heard they were pulling the fences in at Petco Park, much like they did at Citi Field, in order to generate some more offense. Unfortunately, Chase Headley, who poses to be the Padres' version of David Wright, appears likely to miss about a month with an injury of some sort, and I'm not so sure I can really remember who else is on their roster, I feel like they have Edinson Volquez, and guys like Cameron Maybin and Yonder Alonso are up-and-comers, but for every one of those players, there's 2 retreads that won't help much. Conveniently, they play the Mets in next Monday's opener so I'll familiarize myself with them slightly better at that point.

NL MVP: Joey Votto, Reds
NL CY YOUNG: Matt Cain, Giants
NL ROY: Zack Wheeler, Mets (He'll be in the Majors around May 1st)

NL Wildcard Game: Dodgers over Cardinals
NLDS: Nationals over Dodgers, Reds over Giants
NLCS: Reds over Nationals

I'll get around to the AL before Opening Day. I promise.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Training for Bloggers

I wasn't exactly planning to not write anything for a month, but the combination of a nasty Super Bowl Hangover (still stewing), lack of a niche topic or anything especially newsworthy meant I took an unplanned Winter Break. But, with Opening Day now less than 3 weeks away (still waiting on my tickets), I figured I'd better get cracking and get myself back into shape for Opening Day.

There are several things I've done in the past, for example picking 5 Key Mets and naming the All Ballclub Team, which I haven't done this year. I tended to think of Key Mets in the sense of the success of the team really hinging on their own personal success. Though I hate to admit defeat, I just don't think the Mets are going to be especially successful, at least from a win-loss standpoint. No few players playing better or worse than hoped will swing the fortunes of the team at all, at least not this year. But this isn't a rebuilding year. The rebuilding has already been done, for the most part. This is now an evaluational year, just to see what the hell the Mets have going forward.

I suspect I'll be complaining an awful lot about how the Mets don't hit this season. I don't think that's much of a surprise to anyone. Though David Wright has been tearing up the World Baseball Classic, who's to say this will translate to regular season success (Though Beltran in '06 comes to mind)? If anything, the WBC has just reminded us how good Wright can be when he has a stocked lineup around him. It's nice being able to hit in between Ryan Braun and Eric Hosmer. That'd help any hitter. But most of us are more concerned with how he'll hit in between Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy or Ruben Tejada or Colin Cowgill or whoever ends up hitting 2nd. What kind of a start will Ike Davis get off to? What kind of a start will Daniel Murphy get off to? Will Lucas Duda get started at all?

The Outfield is frightening. I haven't seen a ton of Spring Games, but other than the fact that Lucas Duda appears to have borrowed Zach Galifinakis' beard, I don't think anybody has done anything of note. Colin Cowgill has shown some spunk, and I guess he'll start, but I'm not sure if it's because he's decent or because he's just better than Nieuwenhuis, Baxter, Byrd, Valdespin or whoever else is out there. This is a group that has all the makings of submarining rallies and innings all season long and making me want to bash my head into the counter at Blue Smoke.

The Pitching, particularly the starters, actually look good. Unfortunately, they'll probably fall victim to my favorite types of games, the 3-1 losses where the Mets get 8 hits, hit into 3 Double Plays and in at least one instance, they will have the tying runs in scoring position with under 2 outs and won't score a run. Niese and Gee have looked good, and Shaun Marcum was a signing I really liked, because he's better than you think if he's healthy (see: Capuano, Chris, 2011). Then, there's Matt Harvey, who's beginning to inspire the kind of superlatives that would merit his own blog. The conventional wisdom is that, with Santana unavailable on Opening Day, Jon Niese would get the start. But I'd strongly consider giving the ball to Harvey that day. He's clearly up to the assignment and it would make quite a statement as to the direction this team is going. If he doesn't, I'm inclined to believe that this is the last year for a while where he's not the Opening Day Starter.

There's a bullpen here too, but I don't want to talk about it.

The Mets as a whole are still a ways from contending, and even the heartiest of optimists would have to agree. But whether contention comes in 2014 or 2016 depends on what happens after this year, and isn't something I think we should be worrying about right now. Optimism for a Mets fan in 2013 has to be looking at Matt Harvey, and then seeing players like Zach Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud about to ascend because if they're as good as advertised, then success should follow. That's about as optimistic as I can get, though, at least for right now, because everything hinges on a futures market. This is somewhat frustrating, rooting for a large market team that's been embarrassingly bad for several years now. But, you try to make the best of what's available, and right now, this is what's available.