“The Rickster Catches Fire!” (Wk 15)

Week 14 MVP Award Winner–
The Rickster (30 Points)

One of the strongest players in the club during the second half of the season has been club legend and Hall of Fame player The Rickster.  In Week 10, he really started building momentum as he won the MVP Award Runner-Up.  This week, he topped it off by winning the Week 14 MVP Award with 30 Points.  The Rickster has really caught fire as of late and now finds himself in 7th Place, a mere 7 Points out of getting back into the Top Five where he usually makes his home.  Keep in mind that although The Rickster has not won a Club Championship since 2006, he has finished in the Top Five in 3 of the 5 years since then.  And it looks like he has plans to make it 4 out of 6, the way he has been playing so strong lately.  When I noticed that The Rickster had the highest score this week, one thing immediately struck me.  And that is that he has a knack for playing his best and delivering in behalf of his team Wild Animals when they need it the most.  Before this week, The Rickster’s last MVP Award was in Week 16 of last season.  Why is that significant?  Because that week, Wild Animals was playing in the Pro Bowl final and The Rickster’s 35 Points carried his team to the championship.  Fast forward to this week and Wild Animals were once again in a bind.  They were playing as heavy underdogs against the higher seeded team Dark Lords of the Northwest.  But once again, The Rickster stepped up and produced some huge picks and carried his team to victory.  The Rickster’s key to success last week was to pick all of the important games correct– NYJ TJ, St. L, Wash, and NE.  That totals a quick 19 Points right there just on those four games alone.  Could The Rickster even threaten for the club title this season?  Sadly, it’s not likely as Hoosier Daddy is steaming ahead seemingly unstoppable.  He now has a 20 Point lead over the 2nd Place player.  One thing I have noted in the past is that when a 1st Place player can build a lead of 20 Points or more, that person can be difficult to overtake.  Especially now with only 3 weeks left in the season.  Just look at how many Points the rest of the Top 5 will need to average each week more than Hoosier Daddy in order to overtake him and steal the club title– Papa Tuna (6.7 Points per week more than Hoosier Daddy), Captain Insano (7.3 Points more per week), Rad Dad (8.7 Points more per week), and Captain Jack Sparrow (10 Points per week).  Also, Week 14 MVP The Rickster would need to score 12.3 Points more per week.  In view of this, it is reasonable to conclude that Hoosier Daddy is now a heavy favorite to win the club title and it will take a miracle to overtake him.  One thing that makes it hard is that those of us who are chasing him are not allowed to know his picks before we turn in our own.  (Although he always turns in his picks on Tuesday, I never look to see what he has picked until my own picks are posted on the Club Shoutbox).  So more than likely, there will only be a few differences between picks, and the player who is behind will need to get nearly all of those differences correct.  The only small advantage that players behind the leader have comes on the final week of the season, when there are always three Games of the Week and also Quadruple Jeopardy for the only time in the season.  I thought I should also send a shout out to Dixie Slick, who was brave enough to pick NY Jets with TJ to increase her TJ record to 8-0 on the season.  Can she reach 10-0 by correctly choosing it two more times?  That would be impressive.

The Super Bowl Tournament’s Divisional Round took place last week with four matches that were not really that close.  In Conference One, (4)Double-Double easily defeated (2)Papa Tuna by a landslide score of 24-13.  The match was closer than it sounds, though, because it came down to the Monday night game.  Double-Double was up by 5 Points, but Papa Tuna had picked Houston on Monday night while Double-Double had picked New England.  Thus, if Houston had shown up and delivered a win, Double-Double would have been sent packing.  But they didn’t, and he wasn’t.  Double-Double won his only Super Bowl Head to Head title four years ago, so he is looking to add another trophy to his case.  In another match, (6)Captain Jack Sparrow pummeled top seeded (1)Mr. T 29-12.  That match wasn’t even close, as seen by the 17 Point victory posted by the Captain.  It seems that Captain Jack Sparrow is sailing a wave of momentum right now and there might be no way to stop him.  We will see how he fares against his Conference Round opponent Double-Double.  Captain Jack seemed to be overlooking Double-Double as evidenced on the Club Shoutbox where he talked about meeting up with Dixie Slick in the Super Bowl final.  Double-Double replied with a warning message in his own press conference, stating that Captain Jack “may be surprised when his ship sinks.”  This match sounds like it is going to be an all out battle.  Only one of these two great players can survive and make it into the Super Bowl final.  In Conference Two, (6)Dixie Slick declawed (7)The Cat by a final score of 19-15.  The interesting thing was that both players had picked 5 1/2 point underdog Houston on Monday night.  Both players missed that game and the final score revealed a defensive struggle between the two.  Hopefully, this will be the start of a great rivalry between these two friends for years to come.  In the final match, (4)Bane continued flying under the radar as he knocked off rookie player (8)Iceman 26-16.  I must say that it looks like everyone in the club is overlooking Bane and not giving him much of a shot to win it all.  But that’s probably just how he likes it.  I have noted in past columns that Bane is playing awesome in Head to Head this season.  He now stands just two victories away from walking away with the Super Bowl trophy and stunning the entire club.  What can we expect in the Conference Round final between Dixie Slick and Bane?  Back in Week 3, Dixie Slick def. Bane 18-9.  But things have changed since then.  In the Current Standings, these two amazing players are only separated by 3 Points.  Dixie Slick has 289 Points on the season, while Bane has 286 Points.  So it is impossible to project a winner.  The only thing I can say is that I think whoever wins will end up winning the match by 2 Points or less.  This is a very, very important match for Dixie Slick.  Not to put pressure on her, but she has made it to 3 of the last 4 Conference Round finals and she has lost all 3.  And this makes it 4 of the last 5 Conference finals by making it again this season.  I think just about anyone, myself included, would be extremely happy to have had such success.  But now Dixie Slick needs to take the next step and deliver outstanding picks when she needs them the most.  Can she deliver?  Or will Bane give her the same treatment that he gave to Batman in the Dark Knight Rises by making back-breaking picks?  We will find out soon.

The Pro Bowl Tournament had the strangest First Round that I have ever seen in the club.  I almost wish we could just start it over.  What happened was that ALL FOUR top seeded teams lost and got dismissed from the tournament.  That has never happened before.  And that leaves teams ranked 5th-8th still in the tournament with one of those teams guaranteed to be the 2012 Pro Bowl champs.  No team is more frustrated and angry about this than (1)Daddy & His Boys, who just got done posting a club Hall of Fame record 10-1-1 regular season, only to get bounced in the first round by a team who arguably didn’t deserve to be there.  Certainly both (1)Daddy & His Boys and (2)Team Baby Tuna can make the argument that they deserved bye weeks to be safeguarded from monumental upsets in the First Round.  But it was very clear from the start this season that there were no bye weeks in the tournament.  We had an even number of 8 teams.  I’m still not sure how a 1-10-1 team beats a 10-1-1 team, but it happened, and (8)Beasts of the Bay are still in the running for the title.  And so are (5)Transformers, defending champs (6)Wild Animals, and (7)The Black Pearl.  One of these underdogs will emerge and become our unexpected team champs.