When I think of the East this season, I think of one word ñ subplots!!!! The Good King has successfully split the Adam and we now have two equally mediocre Serenity Now teams. Thank you, AK! Genzyme is for the very 1st time the returning champ, but they got to be feeling just a little guilty after the whole Todd ìdid I mention I played in the ACC?î Billet controversy. Our very first D1 player in the B2 league! Ian ìThe Jetî Whitney has gotten the Ripcord band back together and has changed his team naming strategy for getting more calls from insult (ìWolverine Hatersî) to flattery (ìWolverineís Worldî). Killíem with kindness, Jet! Mr. Fantasy Statî Fred Bermont has defected to yet another team in his chase to have been on more different teams than his idol Tim Thomas. Cha-Ching returns after what had to be a disappointing loss and is still in search of their 1st CAC title, again. Hey, at least their fans can still get wildly excited and cheer harder to break the Morse curse, like the pre-2004 Red Sox fans. The Mullets may have entered the Dominique Wilkens/Vitaly Potapenko abyss of futility after some great historic teams of the past. And who can forget More Cowbell, the most enigmatic team in the league with their two polarizing superstars in Sherman and Hunt. What a league packed with great fodder for me ñ I love it and hope you have as much fun with it as I do! On to the pre-season rankings:
1. Average Joeís
Yes, I do think they will win this league. I might be the only one other than the guys on this team to think this, but they are the deepest team and play the most aggressive defense. Lohmiller, Spaeth, and Korplaski are the big three that get all the ink, but Kessel and Westersvelt do all the necessary dirty work. They are my pick and I am sticking to it. Did I convince myself? Man, I hope those two new guys can play. Where have you gone, Phil Kaboub?
Seriously, I still am a little fuzzy about the whole Todd Billet controversy and for me, they have to win it without him to get the respect of a pre-season #1. Everyone knows how much I love Matty Oís game and I do think they can win without Billet with Schofield and the rest of G Unit, but itíll be a season long test for these guys. In my and many others mind, they might be the 1st defending champs in history looking to prove something to the rest of the league. And we will be Googling any new guy added to the roster! Where have you gone, Mike Kmiec? I hope he got a little sip of last yearís championship champagne b/c he did more for Genzyme basketball than anyone on that squad.
Weapon X Brian Greenburgís play is at a peak. The reigning MVP brings with him the fire and desire to get that title and after an unreal 13-0 run at the Morse, they had a disappointing loss in the playoffs last season at CAC. Are they victims of the Morse effect as they play all their regular season games there, but eventually have to come back to CAC for the playoffs? Can the Morse curse be overcome? A slightly new look for this team as Koska and Gibson are back and hopefully they can attend all the games, as well as a newbie in Greg Noel. Stay tuned!
4. More Cowbell
The steady 7 are all back for another run. As I said above, this team is the most polarizing team in the league. They started their history by dominating the West a few seasons ago and abided by the Steve Spurrier ìIíll try and stop scoring when they doî mantra which created a few ripples amongst the other B2 westerners. Then they come into the East and play extremely well, only to lose a very hard fought game to Genzyme. Intense team? Absolutely. Chip on their shoulder? Absolutely. Contender for the title? Another absolutely.
5. Big State (AKA Serenity Now I)
The big three form AKís Serenity Now squad have spun off and started their own team. I am not sure if this is Kneelandís strategy to get another title in the B2 by submitting two teams, a la Dwayne Lucasí perpetual 1 and 1A entries into the Kentucky Derby (of which I am morally against ñ horse racing, that is). Kuetcher, Tyler, Jared are a very solid start and if their boys from the hood can play, they could be the biggest surprise in the league.
6. Serenity Now II
The Good King and Bigshot Biggins have added journeymen Mr. Fantasy Stat Fred Bermont and Isaac ìPocketsî Sparks to their roster. But if they are going to compete with the big guys, newbie Trevor Bell better play more like Trevor McAndrew or this team is going to be outgunned by the top 5 teams in thee league, including their lost starfish leg Big State. But the last time I saw Bigshot, he was well on his way to 185 and Bermont is down a bunch of weight as well, so maybe this team is going to just run teams to death.
7. Cleary Club
Wow Matt Dillon and Matt Clement on the same team? I didnít know Cleary rolled with such stars or I would have been way nicer to him earlier on. I think the Sox may have some investigating to do if Clement is healthy enough to play CAC hoops. The loss of Meyer is enormous for this squad and the question will be how good are his replacements. Without knowing that answer, I canít seed them any higher than 7, and even that may be generous. But Cleary surpassed all my expectations last season, so I am not sure why I still doubt him, except for the fact that I donít seem to learn from my mistakes (hence 5 years of reffing you guys).
Yeah, I get it ñ Mullets backwards. Took me about 1.3 seconds to recognize that, but I bet it took all of 4 of the Saugus guys and a mirror about 45 minutes to figure it out over beers at the í99! It was a decent free agent market for them as they pick up two key members of the temporarily disbanded Drago squad in All-Star Sean McNabb and point guard Gabe Porter. But I have the over/under at 3 games before Gabe yells at Usok for the 1st time for being a ball hog (or ìhungoî as we used to call it). I am sure Mike D thinks this ranking is bogus as he always believes in his teams, but the loan bright spot for this team continues to be Dave Colantoís constantly improving play. I may not even foul him out a few games this season. With another not so great season, the Mullets may officially enter the Dominique Wilkens/Vitaly Potapenko post greatness dismal abyss circa the 1995 Boston Celtics.
9. Wolverineís World
In the spirit of Van Halen, the old Ripcord squad has buried the hatchet and has finally gotten the band back together. Ian ìThe Jetî Whitney has his boy ìThe Icemanî Jean Cadet back, making all the fantasy league players happy b/c Jean is a leader in almost every category, but how are the knees, Iceman? And I know Dave Fielding, but who is Ken Fielding? Brother? Cousin? Too many questions for this team to be ranked any higher than, well, dead last. No offense Nally, I got your back on the Jesselís Grille ranking. And I want Heinrich to get a few more shots.
Parts Unknown, Weight Unknown
Team Spade ñ Not sure what this team name means, but I am guessing they play a lot of cards? Either that or they are all big fans of ìJust Shoot Me.î
Raginí Rondos ñ Jason Sawyer is always steady underneath the hoop, but I guess he has friends? But when I think of Rondo, I donít think ìRagin,î I think ìWay In Over His Head!î
BYO Booyeah ñ B1 veteran Rob Vigneau descends to the B2 with maybe the most annoying team name to type ever. Iíll be sure to come up with a clever abbreviation for my write-ups by week 8.
The West is even more competitive than last season as we have at least 4 teams in my estimation that can win it all. Gone are the days of a 2 horse west race as the Tribe has returned to the West where it seems to belong to challenge the Pigeons and GHF. The Pigeons are coming off a fantastic showing against Genzyme in the unification game and with that in their pocket, how can they feel any less confident going into this season? GHF had a disappointing early exit from last years playoffs, but Amand is as dominant as ever and hopefully Buchan is 100% healed. Dr. Ken and Tessier are back, Jesselís Grille is a Jeckyll and Hyde, ALS is, well, ALS, and Alnylium, Beacon Town and B Squad have some serious work to do to catch the top 3. On to the rankings:
1. Pat Pigeons
The returning champs have to be ranked #1 coming into this season. They played brilliantly in the unification game where nobody real game them a chance to compete. Reigning MVP Ken is back along with his brother and captain Chris von Seggern as well as High School PG Jess Colombo. The key to this team will be the play of JB ñ if he is consistent in attendance and his play, then the league is theirs to lose.
Attendance will also be very critical for the Tribe as last seasonís journey to the East was a tough road, with the exception of just missing a huge upset in the playoffs over Cha-Ching in OT. They can use that as a good springboard into this season and if they can get Broadway, Gowdy and Akhil to 90% of their games and the role players continue to roll, this team will give the Pidgeons and GHF all they can handle.
Reigning MVP Justin Amand and his crew definitely have something to prove this season as they followed up a great regular season with a disappointing early playoff loss at the Morse. Hopefully Hugh has recovered from his injury and the backcourt is back in tact and if so, they may just be the hungriest team in the league. And In donít want to be at the dinner table with Amand and Hugh when they are hungry.
4. Jesselís Grille
Címon Nally, are you trying to fool me? A new guy named Ian on your team? Gunnis? Is this really Whitney returning to play with you and itís just a big surprise for the league? I am on to you! Anyway, Thomas Guinthar leads Jeckyll and Hyde team back for another season of unknown hoops, but I do want Heinrich to get way more shots this season. And more fan attendance please.
5. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater
The TNT due of Tyler and Cory Tromblee are back in action at CAC and we are all thankful for it. The big question is how are the fillers on this squad going to stack up? And have TNT even played since their last season? Jury is still out on this team.
Same old song and dance for ALS and perennial superstars Shaq and Myron lead a squad of whomever else shows up to play. Sometimes its stud David Williams, sometimes its old friend Ken Howard, who knows really. Not sure if Jamieís new gig is going to prevent him from getting to as many games as he usually does, but hopefully his new job is going great.
The men of Alnylium are back. Tim Read leads the exact same squad back into the West and I think they should have more success than last season now that they are used to the walls, the court and the refereeing. Bill Q continues to be one of my favorite players in the league as his shot is unorthodox, but it hits on a pretty high rate. Alnylium will surprise some teams, but has its work cut out for them as far as a title goes.
8. Beacon Town Beavers
The Glyde Justin Drschler has lost his partner in crime Matt Lattore to the streets of NYC, but he still has Jamison Cush. How the rest of the guys play will be critical. Same as Alnylium ñ they can surprise some teams throughout the season, but title hopes are dim.
9. B Squad
Stevie Horton and Tim Walling with a totally new look squad. Who are these guys? Withoutn knowing, I canít rank them that high, but no disrespect intended to Stevie Franchise or All-Star Tim Walling. I am secretly hoping they surprise me here and prove me way wrong. Well, I guess not so secretly anymore.
C LEAGUE PREVIEW
The C League is finally back at CAC! The inaugural (and last) C League saw the emergence of now CAC legends ìThe Local Heroî Ed Finn and ìMr. Everythingî Jeff Hrkach take home the title. It was the beginning of these two guys sandbagging their way to more titles than be counted on two hands. Thankfully, the Momenta squad is not playing in this league, so everyone has a legit shot at the title. On to the pre-season rankings:
1. LADIES FIRST
ìThe Hurricaneî Erin Johnson has taken over the captainship reigns and looks to finally get these ladies a much deserved spot on the hallowed walls of CAC. She has managed to gather all of the returning players (at least thatís what it says on the roster), including our very first player who uses three names. But can she get them to the actual games? If so, the league is theirs to lose. No pressure though.
BFab and Deep team up to play on this team, but whoís the GM? Can co-Player/GMís exist? Unchartered waters here along with a few other Genzyme steadies, this team could net the company its second title in as many seasons. And no, Todd Billet cannot play in this league either.
3. SECRET SAUCE
The Sergeon and Caitlyn are back, but Three Cheese Raffi Anenyan has defected to Canada in search of the next Pamela Anderson. One question for the Sergeon – what happens when Secret Sauce and Ladies First meet in the Finals? What does Caitlyn do, split time? Offense for defense substitutions? Should be an interesting year.
The men of XJV are back. But Ottery, Sheorey, Tinelli, and Rubin must have cut Patrick Bugbee Creek b/c he takes all of their shots away from them. The success of this team will depend on the new blood, but these four guys are a solid start and a pleasure to ref as they are true gentleman. At least on the court.
CAC legend Godfrey Chua is finally back in the league and we are all happy about that. Jamil Ball descends to the depths of CRFC hoops with a few other guys that I donít know. But this backcourt is a great start to any team. Also love to see that the Expos tradition survives.
6. Grand Nationals
Sanji, Tallent. Pierre are finally back together again. Well, as for Sanji and Tom, Iíll believe it when I see it as these guys have historically been too busy for us CAC regulars. Pierre hopes to be fully recovered form his knee injury and must be getting younger and faster by the week. The father/son tandem of Christian and David Hartjes will provide some spark as well, looking to be the 1st father/son tandem to win a title while on the same team, a feat that even the Griffeys could not accomplish.
Parts Unknown, Weights Unknown
TRO has just broken the league record for number of players on the roster, a record that was set just last season by Thing Magic. Hey, even if they go 0-10 this season, they at least have that.