Lions around the dorm

It’s that time again sports fans – the 2009 Around the Dorm playoffs are upon us. Staff Writer Duncan Slobodzian will act as the referee of this first round battle as Copy Editor James Queally, WTSR Sports Countdown host Pat Lavery and Sports Assistant Garrett Rasko-Martinis will square off as they discuss fantasy baseball and a double dose of Lions sports. It should be a fight for the ages.

1. The 2009 MLB season is officially underway. Which player takes your first overall spot in this year’s fantasy power rankings?

GR: This has to be Hanley Ramirez because he just provides stats in all categories. He’ll give you a batting average of at least .300, knock in around 30 homeruns, drive in a good amount of RBIs, score a lot of runs and swipe a lot of bases. While there are certainly other players who will hit more homeruns and drive in more runs, he is a versatile player that will help in almost all statistical categories.

PL: Usually the answer to this question would be Alex Rodriguez, but in A-Rod’s early-season absence, I’ll have to go with Albert Pujols. We all know how valuable Pujols is to the Cardinals, but he’s not valuable just because he’s a great player. He’s valuable because he’s consistently great. He’s got more years under his belt than Hanley Ramirez, which makes him a more dependable option. He has better plate discipline – not to mention a much higher batting average – than a guy like Ryan Howard. He doesn’t have a complete game (i.e. stolen bases, like Ramirez or even David Wright), but let me just say this, in Pujols’ eight major league seasons, his career lows in the following categories would combine to make this season stat line: .314 average, 32 home runs, 103 RBIs, 185 hits, 33 doubles, 99 runs scored. I rest my case.

JQ: I will admit I do not mess with fantasy sports because I am terrible with that. But in the event I do ever jump into a Yahoo fantasy league, I usually want someone who has immediate upside and won’t really hurt my team. For that, I look to Mets ace Johan Santana. The guy has a consistently low ERA, a good strikeout percentage and he makes very few mistakes. If his W-L record doesn’t look impressive to you, that’s usually because of bullpen screw ups or a lack of run support. You’ve also got to realize that Livan Hernandez, despite his impressive performance against the Marlins on Saturday, isn’t a lock to hold that No. 5 spot in the rotation. Santana will likely jump the rotation several times this summer and gain a few extra starts.

DS: Pat gets the 3 here for his great statistical backing of Pujols, who is off to a blistering start. I’ll give Garrett 1.5 for supporting the consensus No. 1 fantasy player for this season, without much statistical backup. James gets 1.5 for nominating a pitcher, albeit the best one in the majors. It’s just tough to accumulate numbers from a player who only sees the field every fifth day.

2. Lions baseball is known for their recent New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament dominance. Although they had a letdown last year, they had three-peated in the years before. They have been hovering around .500 this season, but do you see them returning to their winning ways and taking this season’s conference championship?

GR: The baseball team has started playing better lately and if they keep it up, they could have a legitimate chance at taking the championship. Despite being inconsistent they still have a solid 6-3 conference record which is good enough for second in the NJAC, and they are only one conference win behind first-place Kean. If Jeff Toth and Mike Galeotafiore keep hitting and the Lions get consistent pitching, they will have a solid chance to take the conference.

PL: I do, and here’s why. First of all, they’re 6-3 in the NJAC through Saturday, which is a good sign. They’ve saved their best for conference play, considering their overall record is 8-9-1 otherwise. Second, this is a young team that’s starting to come together and complement each other’s talents. Case in point: freshman catcher Mike Galeotafiore. When I broadcasted the home opener last month on WTSR, Galeotafiore had three passed balls and took an oh-fer at the plate. It was still early in the season, and the Lions had just returned from an up-and-down road trip to Arizona. But take a look at this past week: Galeotafiore was named the College’s Male Athlete of the Week after hitting .455 with three homers, 10 RBIs and another 10 scored in just five games. As the young players go, so goes the team this year, and I think they’ll rebound.

JQ: They’re certainly in contention, and the Lions have won five of their last six outings after a shaky start. Behind Jeff Toth, the College’s bats are certainly poised for another run at the title, but if you look at the Lions’ wins during the past two weeks, every game has been a war of attrition. Toth’s slugging percentage is .849 and he already has five homers and 34 RBIs. But with the exception of Connor Henderson and Sean Stewart, the Lions don’t have a starting pitcher with an ERA lower than five. Offense wins games. Defense wins championship. The Lions sit third in the NJAC right now, trailing Kean and William Patterson. If they can get their pitching in line over the next month and leapfrog one or both of those teams to gain one of the top two seeds in the conference they have a shot.

DS: It sure seems like the Lions are on the upswing. I’m going to give James the trey, amending his “offense wins games” maxim by adding pitching to the parts of a team that win championships. The deuce goes to Pat – good points about the conference versus out of conference records, and the experience versus inexperience dynamic. One point for Garrett, who just didn’t come strong enough in this round.

3. What’s been the most headline-grabbing College sports story of this academic year so far? Defend your answer thoroughly.

GR: This is easily the women’s basketball team making it to the NCAA Division III Final Four and winning the Consolation Game against Amherst College. The College entered the tournament as an unranked team and defeated several ranked schools before they were defeated by the eventual champion George Fox University. Their incredible Cinderella run, highlighted by the dominating performance of center Hillary Klimowicz, was absolutely the most headline-grabbing story this year.

PL: This will seem like a cliché because it’s a major sport, and it’s a team that’s been consistently good the past few years, but I have to go with the women’s basketball team making it all the way to the Division III Final Four, finishing third in the country. From top to bottom, this team was loaded. There was a constant low-post presence both offensively and defensively with either Hillary Klimowicz or Alexandra Gregorek in the game (and on the few occasions head coach Dawn Henderson put them in the lineup together – watch out), not to mention sophomore Kelsey Kutch (10.2 points per game) and junior Nicole Diaz’s (three assists per game, a team-high) all-around solid performances. Plus, the senior leadership of Alyssa Michella and Lisa Koch and the addition of sophomore Keri Washington.This team was absolutely dominant and they deserved every headline they grabbed.

JQ: How could it not be Klimowicz and the women’s basketball team? The senior center, a blue-chip player who has fought tooth and nail every day of her career, wins National Player of the Year honors and leads her team to a Final Four appearance. Then Dawn Henderson wins her 300th game, the Lions set a school record with 28 wins and take third in the national tournament. We could drop statistics left and right, but the real reason they are the No.1 headline grabber at the College this season is because they proved Cinderella stories can happen outside of D-I. Let’s face it, if a team goes unbeaten in D-III, they usually win the championship, as Messiah did in women’s soccer this year. But the Lions’, and the Amherst Jeffs’, trip to the Final Four proved Cinderella can still dance in March, even if she’s late to the D-I ball.

DS: This was a slam dunk answer, so let’s look at the strength of the arguments. The 3 goes to James for making a Cinderella analogy that was downright beautiful. Pat gets the 2 for citing all the team’s key players and putting their season in perspective. Garrett pulls the caboose again and takes 1 point for speaking in generalizations.

Queally advances to the finals 7.5-7-3.5