Carlos Zambrano :: Damian Strohmeyer/SI
With the season half of the baseball season kicking off Thursday, it's time for most of you to hear the most important piece of advice you'll get the rest of the year.
If you've got a team in the thick of a title hunt; if you have team on the cusp of the title hunt; if you have a team on the edges of a money finish, go for the win now. Don't wait for Chris Young to start hitting if you can deal him for starting pitcher that will put you over the top. Don't stand pat on hold on to some cheap keepers for next season; you can't predict next season. But you already have a read on this year, and if you're in the hunt this year, you need to sell, trade and bargain anything short of your first born to grab that trophy.
Yes, there's risk, but isn't that infinitely more entertaining than plodding along to set yourself in good stead for next year? The boxscores in late August and September will mean that much more. Every strikeout your team garners will put that extra little hop in your step.
What's the downside? Sure your team could fall out of the race, but it isn't as if there will be a meeting in the owner's office waiting for you at season's end.
And for anyone who thinks this advice doesn't apply to those teams at the nether regions of the standings? Think again. There's no use holding onto Carlos Zambrano if you're 50 points behind. Follow the Oakland and Cleveland trading strategies and stock up on some keepers. Or just move people to move people, if, for no other reason, than to get annoyed by different players. It's better than another three months of Ian Snell.
Could Ricky Williams be on the verge of a comeback? Yes, we know he technically is on the Dolphins roster, but it has been TK years since he made an impact as an NFL player. Based on a series of impressive offseason practices, though, Williams has impressed the Miami hierarchy with an explosiveness not seen in years, reports the Miami Herald (courtesy of Pro Football Talk. Watch the situations closely and adjust your draft boards as needed.
Does the move make the Clippers a legit Western contender? No. But it makes them a lot older and a lot more likely top take Denver's place as first-round cannon fodder for the Lakers or the Spurs.
Closers rarely offer fantasy owners much more than a few Ks and saves. But according to an article in the Hardball Times, they could offer more help in ERA and WHIP if managers would allow them to pitch for more than the inning to which they are often limited. Think these delicate creatures can't handle the workload? Think again.
Peyton Manning :: Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Even though Peyton Manning is expected back for the start of the regular season after undergoing surgery to removed an infected bursa sac from his knee Monday, more than a few fantasy types have probably cooled to drafting Manning. Who can blame them, what with that word "surgery" hanging in the air. Scott Engel at RotoExperts, though, writes there is nothing to worry about considering the surgery was routine and that Manning likely doesn't need a full preseason to prepare for Opening Day.
Recent news reports that disgraced NBA ref Tim Donaghy made 134 phone calls to fellow referee Scott Foster during the time Donaghy has confessed to betting on games has raised suspicions Donaghy wasn't alone in allegedly altering game scores. This isn't the first time this summer Donaghy has reportedly implicated other referees. In June, accusations arose that the infamous Game 6 of the Lakers-Kings playoff series in 2002 was compromised. Almost universally panned for being one of the worst officiated games in recent memory, Game 6 still rankles all but the most diehard Lakers fan. But being poorly officiated and rigged are two different things, argues Roland Beech at 82games.com. And he has the analysis to prove it.
Quick: who are the most accurate passers in NFL history? Joe Montana? Wrong. What would you say if we told you it was Chad Pennington and Kurt Warner. The new NFL Record & Fact Book is out, and future SI.com contributor Cold Hard Football Facts has delved into the pages to come up with some of the most intriguing records that have been recently set or are on the cusp of falling.
The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported that a computer program called AccuScore have determined the Bears have a better chance of making the playoffs (23 percent) with new running back Kevin Jones running the ball than with Cedric Benson (19 percent). After three decidedly lackluster seasons from Benson, the Bears may make Jones a star. At least the computers say they should.
At long last, SI.com has a fantasy football game, complete with all of the drafts, waiver wires, stats and analysis you need. Take the grand tour here and sign up a league. Heck, sign up two leagues if you want. We'll be waiting.