Archive for June, 2009

Still In A Holding Pattern — But Hopefully Back Soon

Posted in Personal on June 25, 2009 by thelasthonestman

Well, so much for being back in a week.

Real life has rudely interrupted on the updating of this blog — my father-in-law has taken ill, and I’ve spent several afternoons taking him back and forth to the doctor.  In addition, there’s been a lot of work around the house I’ve had to deal with in preparation for our home’s appraisal  (part of our refinancing plan) — an endeavor that is worthy of a rant when I finally get back to writing here full time.

So I’m here posting this update as a promise that I have not forgotten this site, and that I will be back throwing my two cents in on whatever strikes me — hopefully soon.  So I beg your patience and hope you’ll keep checking back.

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A Brief Respite — But I’ll Be Back

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2009 by thelasthonestman

It’s another mini-vacation time from the blog —  I’m swamped with trying to finish up some house projects this week before the appraiser comes to inspect the homestead (the appraisal needed since we’re in the process of refinancing).

I’ll try to be back later in the week, but no promises.  Until then, everyone stay safe.

What I Learned This Week, Fantasy Edition (6/7)

Posted in Fantasy Baseball, MLB Baseball with tags , on June 7, 2009 by thelasthonestman

The big news in baseball circles this week was the trade of Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth to the Braves for three prospects warm bodies.  Okay — what the Pirates received back from Atlanta may have been better than that, but it’s nothing for Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington to be proud of — and it’s certainly nothing that resembles an “offer that he couldn’t refuse”, as he implied the day of the trade.  I’m not alone in being skeptical of the move; Pirates fans (or what’s left of them at this point) have greeted news of the trade with disdain, and Huntington has been forced by the negative public reaction to issue a statement to the season-ticket holders and fans in an attempt to explain away the trade.

As extinct as fans of the Pirates

As extinct as fans of the Pirates

I’m not buying it.  To paraphrase a comment Mel Kiper once had about the Jets, it’s clear to me at this point that the Pirates front office has no idea as to how to build a competitive team — or maybe, it’s that they don’t really care to.  Either way, it doesn’t really matter.  The long-suffering fans in Pittsburgh have watched as their franchise got their publicly-funded new stadium and their annual revenue from the luxury tax — and yet, none of that money seems to be getting put back either in player contracts or their minor league system.  The commitment they made to McLouth in the form of a contract extension they signed in February — when they claimed to be investing money into their young talent base in order to build a winner — lasted all of two and a half months of the season.  Is their any wonder that die-hard Pirate fans are on their way to becoming as extinct as the Dodo bird?

Huntington must have thought he was trading for this Locke instead

Huntington must have thought he was trading for this Locke instead

So far as the trade goes, it’s a steal for the Braves, who receive a productive outfielder in McLouth who’s signed for a bargain price of only $11 million total for 2010 and 2011 (he’s making a paltry-by-today’s standards $2 million for 2009), with a club option for 2012 (at $10.65 million) and give up no one resembling a top prospect.  The “centerpiece” of the deal, Charlie Morton, had a decidedly unimpressive minor-league pedigree up until last season’s breakthrough in AAA; while he’s shown some flashes at that level over the last year and a half, he was lit up in his 15 starts in Atlanta last year, and my feeling is that he’s not much more than a back-of-the-rotation starter at best — something the Pirates seem to have developed in droves over the last few years.  The other two acquisitions, Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke (isn’t that one of the bigwigs on Lost?), look a whole lot like the Andy LaRoches and Brandon Mosses of past deals, mediocre players who won’t bring a winner to Pittsburgh anytime soon.

The Pirates traded McLouth for WHAT?  Fuck the Pirates, then. Fuck them up their stupid asses.

The Pirates traded McLouth for WHAT? Fuck the Pirates, then. Fuck them up their stupid asses.

What’s even more frustrating (if that’s possible) if you’re a Pittsburgh fan is to see the NL Central apparently wide open (Milwaukee and Cincinnati are both withing striking distance of the lead, and the Pirates were only 6 games out when the trade was made) and to wonder what chances the team might have had to contend if they hadn’t given away Jason Bay last year as well.  To paraphrase a great philosopher from the movie Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, what’s left of the Pirate faithful have to be asking themselves — “When, Lord when? When’s gonna be my time?”  With a front office like this one, probably never.

— If you’re in a league that allows daily lineup changes, an injury that leaves a player with the dreaded “day-to-day” distinction isn’t such a big deal — you can simply bench the player each morning and wait until you see him back in the lineup before reactivating him.

If you’re in a league with weekly transactions, however, there may be nothing quite as frustrating as watching a player who’s “day-to-day” proceed to sit out for the entire week — all while you have better options on your bench that you can’t do anything with.

With that in mind, I give you your fragile — and frustrating — player of the week — Josh Willingham.

Ironically, I was about ready to give Willingham somewhat of a vote of approval before this past week.  After starting the season in a reserve role, Willingham had begun to see some additional playing time due to the demotion of Lastings Milledge and the suckitude of Austin Kearns, and he seemed to be on his way to taking control of an everyday job in Washington.  In the month of May, he’d hit .303 with 8 HR in 76 at-bats with a 1.093 OPS — a solid performance that, considering his presence on waiver wires around much of fantasy baseball, made him an interesting flyer for teams to gamble on if they needed power.  With a hole to fill in my main team’s outfield, I had plucked Willingham off of waivers a couple of weeks ago and had been pleasantly surprised with his production.  I’d even been optimistic that I’d found a long-tern solution in him for the rest of the season.

What I hadn’t counted on, however, was how easily he was going to find himself forced out of the lineup.

Willingham hasn’t played since last Sunday.  Why, those of you who don’t own him might ask?  Was it a strained hamstring, or a torn ligament in his elbow?  Maybe a blown knee, or a sore wrist from being drilled by an errant pitch, robbing him of his power?

Get a bottle ready -- for both Willingham AND his fantasy owners

Get a bottle ready -- for both Willingham AND his fantasy owners

Nope.  Try a frickin’ upset stomach instead.

Apparently, Willingham caught a stomach virus — an ailment that all of us have suffered from at one time or another — though, I’m pretty sure most of us haven’t been as disabled as this “major league athlete” apparently has been.  Willingham returned to the batting cage on Friday, but that didn’t lead to a return to the Nationals lineup.  The missed game count is at six — and worse yet, that could only be the beginning — as some reports have Willingham as a possible candidate for the disabled list now.

Are you kidding me?  There’s plenty of reasons for me to greet this news with what I think is an appropriate amount of disgust.  Maybe I could focus on the fact that, in the weekly moves fantasy league I own him in, I got a whopping zero at-bats from him in the last scoring period while I helplessly had him active, guessing that there would be no way anything short of food poisoning and a hospital trip could keep him out of the lineup this long.  Or maybe I could focus on the fact that I once had a case of food poisoning that was so bad, it required just that — and it nearly killed me (I spent almost a week in the hospital and lost almost 30 pounds from my already svelte frame in the ordeal) — and even I managed to get myself back to my job following that awful experience in a time-frame that looks like it’ll be quicker that Willingham will.   Or maybe I could focus on the fact that millions of us have dealt with what Willingham apparently has and made it to work, even not feeling 100% — while being paid a fraction of what he does for the lucky chance to make a living as a professional athlete.

Maybe the problem isn’t in his stomach at all.  Maybe Willingham might have been able to make his way back into the lineup a little quicker if his team wasn’t a putrid 15-40, and headed for one of the worst seasons in recent memory in the National League.  I’m guessing that, more than some antibiotics or a big bottle of Pepto-Bismol, the thing that would be most likely to make Willingham feel like trudging his way back out onto the field a little faster might be if he were on a team that actually won once in a while.

Then again, playing when you’re not 100% and the team you’re on sucks is supposed to be what being a professional is all about.  If Willingham can’t live up to that, he won’t be the first nor the last player to let the paying customer called the fan down.

This guy and Willingham have a lot in common

This guy and Willingham may have more in common than you first realized

Meanwhile, Willingham’s nickname is reportedly “The Hammer”.  I’m thinking he should go by “The Tin Man” instead.  It’s much more appropriate for a player who I’ll never be confusing with either Lou Gerhig or Cal Ripken in the future.

Not Quite Like Looking For A Needle In A Haystack — Though It Feels Like It

Posted in Comic Books, Movies, Personal on June 3, 2009 by thelasthonestman
This article really has almost nothing to do with Scarlett, but that doesn't mean a picture isn't worth putting up

This article really has almost nothing to do with Scarlett, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth putting up a picture of her anyway

So a while back, I talked about the upcoming Iron Man 2 movie, scheduled for release sometime next summer.  In addition to speculating on the casting of Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow, I also talked about some books I’d be looking for in the near future for my collection — primarily, those issues featuring the first appearances of the rumored villains: The Widow and The Crimson Dynamo.

As I’d said then, I owned the Dynamo issue already, but not the Widow’s inaugural appearance.  Unfortunately, more recent updates on the movie have revealed that Mickey Rourke will be playing the villain Whiplash instead (though the description of the character seems to be combining some elements from both of the bad-guy characters).

Grumble … so of course, while I have a large number of early Iron Man issues, the first appearance of Whiplash was sadly not one of them.  However, I’ve rectified that problem by picking up a copy of Tales of Suspense #97 (with said first appearance) from a dealer on-line last week — hopefully, it’ll be in my hands by the end of the week.

Tales of Suspense 97

Tales of Suspense 97

On the bad side, I still haven’t found an acceptable copy of the Widow’s first appearance anywhere (Scarlett’s popularity doesn’t have anything to do with the comic collector’s interest in the book — but it’s definitely not hurting it either).  But that quest is about to get pushed aside for a bigger grail that I’ve been thinking about going after — and I’ve finally decided that now is the time.

If you’ve been paying attention to the Marvel Comics movie plan, then you of course know that the comic publisher is looking at not just the release of individual movies in the future, but of the creation of a shared movie universe that will feature most of their biggest characters (certain characters, like the Sony-controlled Spider-Man, won’t be available for this grand plan, unfortunately).  The first Iron Man movie began to set up this concept with the cameo appearance after the credits of Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson), who dropped a vague reference to “other” super-heroes and mentioned the “Avenger Initiative” (cue the comic book fans’ nirvana at that point).  The Incredible Hulk added to this with the Robert Downey/Tony Stark cameo at the end of that film, in which he talks to General Ross about the putting together of a “team”.

avengers_1That team, as any comic book fan knows, is The Avengers.  And there is an Avengers movie tentatively scheduled for sometime in the future.  Leading into that movie will be the Iron Man sequel, the Thor movie (with acclaimed actor/director Kenneth Branaugh at the helm and already in the process of casting), and the movie I’m looking forward to the most of the three, the Captain America movie.

Forget the crappy Captain America made-for-TV movies of the 1970’s, or the equally forgettable straight-to-video movie of 1990 — this movie, made correctly, has the potential to be as action-packed as Iron Man was, but as serious an endeavor as was The Dark Knight.  It will apparently be set entirely in the time period of World War II, and I’m guessing it’ll end with Captain America being frozen in suspended animation (as was the case in the comic) to await his revival in the present day, and his induction into The Avengers.  If done properly, the Captain America and Avengers movies should represent the pinnacle of what the comic book faithful had always dreamed could be done with their favorite characters cinematically, but had never dared to hope was possible.

With those movies on the way, now is the time to pick up some important keys if you’re a collector.  One of those would be an Avengers #1, obviously.  It’s a book I don’t own and would like to have, but it’s currently second on my wish list behind another grail.

The book that's #1 on my wish list -- the Avengers #4

The book that's #1 on my wish list -- the Avengers #4

And that’s the Avengers #4.  This book features the revival of Captain America for the Silver Age, and it’s the key issue for any Captain America collector to own outside of his Golden Age adventures (which are far beyond my ability to afford, sadly).  When you factor in that some elements from the story may be incorporated into the movie (we’ve already seen a brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-it frozen Cap in the Arctic in the alternate opening of The Incredible Hulk), this is a no-brainer to pick-up for me.  The question, however, is going to be finding it.

So far, I’ve only been able to come across copies in really low-grade condition with some major flaws, and for this book (a key issue I’d thought about purchasing almost since I started collecting, but never did — though I came extremely close about 15 years ago) I’d like to get at least a mid-grade copy.  That looks like it’ll be easier said than done, however, and I’d already getting worried that I’m not going to be able to snag my copy before the movie-frenzy hits full tilt, driving prices up to levels I’m not going to be comfortable paying.  I’m already seeing the signs of this happening, and it’s not going to get any better for the rest of the year.

If I can get an Avengers #4, then I might try to pick up the Avengers #1 — or maybe I’ll finally finish my forever-in-the-making Spider-Man run.  If I can’t get this grail to add to my collection, at least it won’t be for a lack of trying.  If you’re looking for a solid book to pick up for your collection, then this is an issue you won’t regret — if you can get your hand on it, that is.

I Know Enough To Exploit It

Posted in Rants, Ro-Sham-Bo Award, Television with tags , , , , on June 2, 2009 by thelasthonestman

cartman and his mother

Let’s get this straight before we start — I do not watch reality TV.  And I most certainly do not watch Jon & Kate Plus 8, the reality show on TLC that details the lives of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their sextuplets.

But I don’t have to watch the show to know about them and the mess they’ve made of their lives, thanks to the controversies around the couple — allegations of infidelity at the forefront — now beginning to seep into the daily news sources that I peruse on a regular basis.  It’s an assault on the senses that isn’t just limited to the tabloids in view when you’re in line at your local checkout, but now even “reputable” news sources are covering this mess of a family.

One can almost insert their own punchline and come up with some new names for the show if they choose to keep it going at this point:  How about these:  Jon & Kate Plus 8 = Ten Children & No Adults, Jon & Kate Plus 8 … Plus The Mistress and the Boy Toy, or Jon & Kate Plus 8 Minus Half Of The Stuff Following the Divorce?

Are those in bad taste?  Well, they couldn’t be in any more bad taste than the show itself at this point, which — no matter what the original intent of it was — has evolved into what will be either a sham display of togetherness solely for the sake of higher ratings, or a uncomfortable, close-up at the disintegration of a family in real-time — again, all in the name of higher ratings.  Of course, the other intent involves a weekly paycheck for the duo — not to mention, a continuation of this “couple’s” fifteen minutes of fame.

If you watched this reality show, you were dumber for the experience -- though still not as dumb as Paris and Nicole

If you watched this reality show, you were dumber for the experience -- though still not as dumb as Paris and Nicole

From my own perspective, I’ve often questioned what type of person puts themselves on display in the genre of the reality show to begin with.  I’m not talking about reality shows that happen to be about a celebrity, as those are an entirely different scenario altogether (and more a case of said celebrity trying to promote themselves, which is half  of what being a celebrity is all about in the first place).  I’m talking about those shows focusing on “regular” people.  As an example of those, my wife loves to watch ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette — me, I can’t stomach these shows, as I’m completely convinced that almost all of the participants are in it for nothing resembling true love, but for everything resembling self-promotion and the pathetic attempts to create some form of celebrity for themselves.

The show Jon & Kate Plus 8 — which started airing in 2007 (three years after the couple’s sextuplets were born) — may at one time been born of honest, well-meaning intentions.  Maybe there was a time when there might have been some positive aspect to a viewing audience being granted a close look at the lives of a couple in the unusual position of raising eight young children (though what that might have been, I’ll admit to being at a loss — but I’ll play along).  But whenever that time may have been, it’s long gone now, as it’s clear to everyone watching that the couple — and by extension, their family — are facing huge issues in the future as Jon and Kate Gosselin struggle to save their marriage.

But one has to wonder if that — or the well-being of their children — is even at the forefront of what this couple views as their priority list at this point.  You could be forgiven for thinking that continuing their runs as “celebrities” is more important for either of them than anything else.  It’s what their own family members are not only thinking themselves, but are starting to say publicly.  Kate Gosselin’s brother-in-law has expressed his concern over his nieces and nephews being turned into a “commodity”, with their every actions televised for the world to see.  Her sister-in-law has gone as far as to call the entire show “staged”, which would make it less of a look at a family and more of a fictionalized sham designed to maximize ratings and create a perception of the couple that is little more than a Hollywood creation.  Even the Pennsylvania Department of Labor is getting into the act, investigating whether or not the show is violating child labor laws by using the children in the show.

It's all the media's fault -- that's why we're smiling for this picture for the network!

It's all the media's fault -- that's why we're smiling for this picture for the network!

Meanwhile, with a world of controversy swirling around them, the couple has decided to blame — wait for it — the media for their problems.  “It kills me”, says Kate, talking about the exposure of the couple’s marital problems in the tabloids.  Husband Jon claims innocence in regards to the accusations of his marital straying, also pointing the finger at the media as a supposed culprit — as if the media were the ones forcing him out at 2 AM with women other than his wife.

Granted, as I’ve said, I’m not exactly the foremost authority on the reality show genre — but didn’t they invite the media into their lives in the first place when they decided to do this show?  Weren’t they the ones who wanted the cameras there to record their lives in the most minute details?  Oops — I guess I missed the part where the deal involved only those things that made them look good, or those things that put money into their pockets.  Silly me.

I don’t have any sympathy for this pair of fame-grabbers — if their priorities are so out of whack as to lead them into the personal messes they seem destined to enter, then so be it.  They’re getting what they deserve, even if their fame is now a double-edged sword that’s turned out to not be what they expected it would.  My sympathies are for the children, who really have never had a “normal” childhood up until now — and who certainly won’t have one as the media circus around the couple intensifies.  They’re the ones who are the innocents in this, and the emotional trauma they’re likely going to be subjected to is something no child should have to bear.

Coming up on next week's episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8

Coming up on next week's episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8

Obviously, if Jon and Kate Gosselin really cared about their children, they would have told TLC to take their cameras and shove them — contractual commitments be damned — while retreating out of the public eye, giving them the opportunity to focus on saving their marriage and protecting their family from harm.  But of course, they’re not doing that, but instead are plowing ahead with a new season of the show, exposing their children to the prying eyes of a viewing public that’s watching each week with the mindset of a racing fan who tunes in only for the horrific wrecks.  And what a wreck this might end up being for everyone involved.

You see, Jon & Kate won’t walk away — even if it’s in their family’s best interests — because if they do so, their time as “celebrities” and all of the perks that provides, will come to an ignominious end.  And their actions are showing to the world that fame, money, and celebrity are really what matters most to them both.  If there were any justice, the show’s ratings would collapse, leaving the couple and TLC with a failing show deserving of cancellation — but of course, we live in a world where justice is sadly lacking more often than not;  Jon & Kate Plus 8 drew a huge audience for its season premiere, numbering almost 10 million voyeurs (more than double the ratings for the previous season’s finale).

But while the show may never win an Emmy, and the stars won’t win any “Parents of the Year” awards anytime soon, they can take pride in receiving this week’s Ro-Sham-Bo honors (with an dishonorable mention going out to their sponsor, TLC).  And while they might be tempted to give the media some credit for this distinction dishonor, I can assure you — they earned it all on their own.

What I Learned This Week, Fantasy Edition (6/1)

Posted in Fantasy Baseball on June 1, 2009 by thelasthonestman

So who out there remembers a fellow by the name of Nick Esasky?

Something almost as rare as a Bigfoot sighting -- Esasky in a Braves uniform

Something almost as rare as a Bigfoot sighting -- Esasky in a Braves uniform

For those of you who don’t, Esasky was a pretty good hitting first baseman (and sometimes third baseman and outfielder as well) who started his career in the 1980’s with the Cincinnati Reds.  The right-handed slugger put up six pretty good seasons with the Reds before he was traded to Boston for the start of the 1989 season, one in which he would put up the best  numbers of his career, hitting career-highs with a .277 average, 30 home runs, and 108 runs batted in.  That fall, Esasky would sign a lucrative three-year free-agent contract with the Atlanta Braves — and his future as one of the mainstays of that team’s lineup looked set.

That is, until an ear infection turned into something far worse — vertigo — and Esasky’s career was completely derailed.  The effects of his illness were something Esasky could never overcome, and he would end up playing only 9 games for the Braves before being forced to retire from baseball entirely.

I remember at the time thinking that Esasky’s case was a sad one, as no one likes to see a young talented player taken away from any sport for any reason before their time.  Recently, the curious case of Reds first baseman Joey Votto has gotten me thinking more about Esasky — and hoping that we’re not watching a case of history repeating itself.

Readers of this site already should know about my love for Votto coming into this year, as I made him one of my breakout stars to watch for 2009.  And until just a few weeks ago, my optimism in the young left-handed slugger seemed to be well-founded;  Votto’s numbers as we speak look like they’ve been taken from a video game: a .357 average and 8 home runs in only 126 at-bats, and an obscenely good 1.091 OPS.

But something has gone off of the tracks for the youngster.  It started innocently enough, with a flu virus knocking him out of the lineup (alongside his teammate Brandon Phillips).  But where Phillips returned quickly with seemingly no ill effects, Votto found himself struggling with spells of dizziness and light-headedness.  The first baseman was forced out of games in progress on more than one occasion before being sent back to medical personnel for additional tests, which eventually revealed an inner ear infection.  Problem solved, right?  The thought was that with the proper medication, Votto would be back in the lineup full-time and ready to resume his place as one of the game’s brightest young hitters — a assumption that looked to be justified when Votto made a return to Cincinnati’s starting lineup with 2 home runs on May 23.

But Votto would again end up forced from the game just a few days later — and now, he’s made a trip to the DL.  Unfortunately, there’s something else going on with him, as Reds manager Dusty Baker referenced  “personal issues” as being part of the cause, telling reporters that Votto “needed some time away from baseball” at the moment.

Quickly, the Votto saga is starting to turn into a sad one — for the player himself and for baseball in general.  My own first thoughts are that, whatever’s ailing Votto, he gets it turned around as soon as possible — for his own sake.  I don’t want to speculate on what exactly his “stress-related” issues are — I can only relate from my own personal experience (having had my own battles with dizzy spells in the past) that I was told by doctors that a build-up in anxiety over the condition can actually feed the problem, to the point where worry over getting light-headed can actually make you susceptible to it happening.

Is that what’s going on with Votto?  Maybe — or maybe not;  again, I’m not him or his doctor, so any guess on my part is obviously just that and nothing more.  Whatever the case may be, I’m hoping that Votto can put this episode behind him and get back on the field to play the game he so obviously loves to play — and the game that it’s obvious to anyone who’s watched him that he’s exceptionally good at.  Hollywood has made a killing mining the franchise concept in movies, but a sequel to The Nick Esasky Story is something none of us who love the game wants to see.

edwin jackson detroit— Sometimes it’s easy to write a player off too soon, especially when said player makes it to the majors at an incredibly young age and doesn’t produce at a high level right away.  As fantasy baseball participants, we’re always looking for the next Alex Rodriguez  — an MVP candidate at the tender age of only 20 — while forgetting that most players don’t reach their prime years of production until they’re closer to age 27 or 28.  It’s particularly the case with many starting pitchers, who sometimes don’t get to reach their greatest levels of success until they’ve been around for several years, actually learning how to pitch along the way.

Which brings us to the case of Edwin Jackson, starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.  Jackson has been much maligned throughout his career, and I’ve seen him get a complete lack of respect in the leagues I’ve been in the last several seasons.  In my main league, which goes fairly deep so far as the number of players on rosters, Jackson went undrafted in 2008 (ending up on my team as a free-agent/waiver acquisition partly through the season), and on 2009, he warranted only a reserve round pick, which was met by those in the draft room (myself included), with little more than a yawn.

However, Jackson has been one of the AL’s pleasant surprises so far, posting a sparkling 2.30 ERA and 1.036 WHIP over 11 starts en route to a 5-3 mark with his new team (he was a member of the Rays AL Champions squad in 2008).  Still, despite the gaudy numbers, I still sense that the general consensus about Jackson’s start is that it’s nothing more than a fluke, and that Jackson is still nothing more than a mediocre fantasy option at best.

But the people saying that aren’t looking at his numbers if that’s the conclusion they’re coming to.  Jackson has so far shown all the characteristics of a pitcher who can maintain his success this year;  his K/9 rate (6.9), his K/BB rate (3.17), and his HR/9 rate (0.6) have all been exceptional, and all right in line with the type of fantastic start he’s registered.

Jackson has always possessed the physical tools to success; the stuff has always been there, but he’s never really shown the consistency to master it — until now.  One of the reasons people have written Jackson off as a fluke is probably the fact that it feels like he’s been around forever (he made his major league debut in 2003), but the fact is that his first taste of the big leagues came all the way back when he was just 19 years old.  He’s only 25 years old now, and there’s a lot of reason to think that he’s finally matured enough to know how to harness his talent in the best way.

When you add in the other positive factors — the move to a great pitcher’s park in Detroit, a move in divisions out of the tougher AL East and to the weaker AL Central — there’s a lot to like about Jackson in 2009.  While he won’t maintain that microscopic ERA all season — if he did, he’s a Cy Young candidate, and as much as I like him, I’m not sure he’s that polished a pitcher — he should remain a solid contributor to many a fantasy squad this year — while hopefully, most of your leaguemates keep on dismissing him.