He smurfs me, he smurfs me not
The whole smurfing thing is smurfing ridiculous.
Make no mistake, Michelle Beadle is out of her smurfing mind.
And if I'm wrong, I'm gonna smurf a lot of smurf up.
Sick of the "using 'smurf' in place of other words" joke? Of course you are. Well, now imagine 103 minutes of that. Because that's what you're gonna get with the new movie "The Smurfs," opening up this weekend. "The Smurfs may be blue, but their movie is decidedly green, recycling discarded bits from other celluloid Happy Meals like Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, and Hop into something half animated, half live action, and all careful studio calculation" says Entertainment Weekly's Keith Staskiewicz. Currently, the average rating on rottentomatoes.com is a 3 out of 10.
Of course, they have only five reviews so far, but whatever. Small sample size or not, this movie is "lame, unoriginal and not particularly funny" as Emmanuel Levy of Emmanuel Levy.com states. I haven't even seen it and I can already tell this movie is horrific. Trust me, I co-wrote "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles." I know a bad movie when I see it.
The reason for all this smurfy negativity is, in case you didn't hear, that I recently made a bet with my colleague and friend, SportsNation's Michelle Beadle. I was on her podcast this summer, doing a summer movie preview with her. As you may know, I play in a longtime fantasy summer movie league with a bunch of college buddies. So we get to "The Smurfs" and she asks why I didn't put it on there.
But I'm starting to get worried. The bet is based on how much "The Smurfs" will gross domestically by Labor Day. We set the line at $75 million and I took the under. My feeling is that "The Smurfs" needs at least $25 million this weekend to have a shot at that number. Bad reviews or not, 75 percent of the people on Rotten Tomatoes say they want to see this movie. The movie has almost 900,000 fans on Facebook. And BoxOffice.com is currently projecting it for a $25 million opening with a total U.S. gross of $95 million. Of course, they also predicted "Friends with Benefits" would do $24 million last weekend and it did just $18 million, so there's hope that they, just like Beadle, are overestimating America's desire for small blue mushroom-dwelling creatures having wacky adventures in the big city.
According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), they are planning a trilogy with "The Smurfs." A trilogy?!? What is this, "Lord of the Rings"? I can't even handle three commercials of this thing, let alone three movies. Now maybe Wikipedia is wrong, but what do I care? It's "The Smurfs." I'm not doing actual research on this movie.
They have names like "Brainy Smurf," "Handy Smurf" and "Curiously Androgynous Smurf." The whole thing is an outrage, frankly. ESPN is owned by Disney. You know, Disney, home of the Seven Dwarfs, which this is so a rip-off of. Come on, Disney! Don't you have my back here? Can't we get some lawsuit to stop this thing?
There's some plot, apparently, about the Smurfs escaping from their home to New York City, where they try to avoid Gargamel, who wants to use them as charms to make gold. Now that I actually write it out, I'm pretty sure that can't be true. I'll say it now, I'll say it often. Go Gargamel!
Meanwhile, there's apparently no answer to the questions that we all wonder, like why is there no Mama Smurf? How does Papa have all these kids? Why is there only one girl? How does the Smurf race procreate if they are all related? And again, just the one girl. Lots of explaining to do to the kids. Or you could just take them to see "Cars 2" again. See, Disney? I got your back, now hook a brother up with a temporary injunction or something!
If the movie doesn't get there this weekend, it won't be from a lack of promotion. They lit the Empire State Building "Smurf Blue." Papa Smurf threw out the first pitch at a White Sox game, and of course, there's the now-famous underground tape of Athlete Smurf and a Kardashian.
We did a SportNation poll on this and I'm currently losing 51 percent to 49 percent. What does SportsNation know, anyways? The stakes are fairly high, as the loser has to dress as a Smurf and go with the winner to a local bar for happy hour. Which is why I am making this last-ditch effort to plead with the people of America.
Don't see this movie. If you must see this movie, buy a ticket to something else and sneak into "The Smurfs." Besides, do you really want me to lose? Beadle will make a much more attractive Smurf than I would. Look, you may want to see me humiliated. I get it. Luckily for you, I'll be doing that every week during football season with my picks! But just this once, I promise you, you want the Beadle in blue, not Berry. And I'm gonna do my best to run the Smurfs into the ground throughout this column so you're so sick of them, you never want to think about them again.
I hate the Smurfs. Beadle loves them. Which side is America on? We'll find out soon enough. The whole ordeal got me to thinking about the strong feelings we can have about something that could go either way. I'm currently writing the preseason football version of "Love/Hate." So I'm sort of in that mood and I've decided to do a mini "Love/Hate" for the rest of baseball season. One player from each team is either a "Love" (someone I believe will exceed expectations the rest of the year) or a "Hate" (someone I believe will fall short). As always, there are a lot more "loves" than "hates" as most of the people that I'd hate, well, they've already been bailed on. Just like I hope you'll all bail on seeing "The Smurfs."
Players I Love
Nolan Reimold, OF, Orioles: Lot of Baltimore guys I could have put here, as I'm expecting Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy to keep kicking some smurf, but I chose Reimold as someone for AL-only or deeper mixed-league owners to look at if you need power. Currently hitting a home run every 16 at-bats, he just needs some consistent playing time. With Luke Scott out for the year, and Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee on one-year deals (and both also injury prone), I believe the O's find a way to keep Nolan in the lineup.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays: Just 24, he's going to a better park and a manager that won't screw with his head. As ESPN Stats and Information notes, Rasmus is tied for third in career home runs among active players under the age of 25. Big second half coming for Rasmus.
John Danks, P, White Sox: Don't look now, but Danks (available in 50 percent of leagues) has a 1.03 ERA over his past five starts (not counting the 1 2/3 innings start versus the Nationals) and a 33-7 strikeout-walk ratio in his past 35 innings pitched.
Max Scherzer, P, Tigers: I am not rational when it comes to Max Scherzer. Let's just move along. (He does have a 1.66 ERA over his past three, though. Just saying.)
Scott Baker, P, Twins: Still available in 25 percent of leagues, he's got a 2.05 ERA and a 61-14 K-BB rate in 66 innings pitched. He may also be a butcher or a candlestick maker. (Pause) Don't groan at that joke. That's Smurf-level gold, Jerry. Gold, I tell you.
Ervin Santana, P, Angels: You throw a no-hitter, you make the "Love" list the next day. It's right there in the rules, next to going to Disney World after you win the Super Bowl. (C'mon, Disney. I'll settle for a tersely worded "cease and desist" letter).
Rich Harden, P, A's: Throw out his start at Texas (he's notoriously terrible in Arlington) and he's had a very respectable 3.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, a 21-6 K-BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings and he's available in 95 percent of leagues. Just don't start him in Texas and you'll be fine.
Michael Pineda, P, Mariners: Look, the easy thing to say is the league has figured him out, as Nate and I discussed on the podcast. Here's the key stats: home ERA of 2.44. Road ERA? 4.58. He's also had 12 road starts to just eight home starts. He may not be as dominant as he was, but he's also better than he's been. Especially if they correct the "tipping pitches" issue that Miguel Olivo claims to have noticed. I still believe.
Mike Napoli, C/1B, Rangers: Guess what he's on pace for? Twenty home runs. Exactly. Even with the missed playing time. Twenty home runs. Money in the bank, I tell ya.
Emilio Bonifacio, OF, SS, 3B, Marlins: The No. 2 third baseman on our Player Rater the past 30 days, he's walking more this year and the speed has always been legit. He's bona fide. Ole!
Angel Pagan, OF, Mets: Total gut call here as I've got nothing to back it up. He's been smurfing brutal this month but I feel he turns it around as he gets healthier.
Vance Worley, P, Phillies: Mentioned him in 50 facts last week. The lowest ERA on the Phillies' starting staff, but his peripherals suggest he's gotten lucky. And no, I don't think he's this good. But a K-per-nine of over 6 and he's allowed just three home runs in 71 1/3 innings. Three. You keep the ball in the park, you got a chance, and he needs to be owned in all leagues.
Ryan Dempster, P, Cubs: Podcast listeners know I admitted the day after we posted the rankings that I made a mistake in not ranking Dempster. It was an oversight and just a mistake on my part. Over his past nine, he's got a 3.15 ERA and a 56-16 K-BB rate in 54 1/3 innings.
Jay Bruce, OF, Reds: Two first names. Always a crowd pleaser. What, no like? Meh, I don't give a smurf, some of these are for me.
Chris Narveson, SP, Brewers: Had a 3.89 ERA in the second half last year and a 2.63 ERA over his past four starts with 17 strikeouts and 6 walks in 24 innings. Just a guy I've always liked.
Jon Jay, OF, Cardinals: Gig is all his now.
James McDonald, P, Pirates: Break up the Bucs! Last 10 for the farmer's son? A 2.73 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 56 innings. He's gone 4-1 and is available in 95 percent of leagues.
Ian Kennedy, SP, Diamondbacks: An obvious name, but I'm putting him here because he's reached the elite No. 1 fantasy pitcher status and people don't realize. For the year, he is ahead of Tim Lincecum on our player rater. Ahead of Felix Hernandez and David Price, too.
Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies: Hitting .372 with 11 runs and 8 RBIs in the 13 games since being recalled from Triple-A. Widely available.
Javy Guerra, RP, Dodgers: Available in 30 percent of leagues, 6-for-6 in saves plus a relief win since July 8, he's in a much more stable situation than many other bullpens.
Cory Luebke, SP, Padres: Needs to be owned in every league; 60 percent down, 40 to go. What in the name of all that is smurfy are you guys waiting for?
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants: In case you were wondering whether he's a fluke. He's not.
Players I Hate
Phil Hughes, P, Yankees: He's been a mixed bag since coming off the DL, but before we talk this year, let's talk last year. You know, when he was an All-Star, won all those games, blah blah blah? He had a 4.19 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. In his "breakout" year. He's owned in more than 30 percent of mixed leagues and he shouldn't be owned in any. Any upside in wins is negated by his potential to kill your ERA and he doesn't get enough strikeouts to justify that risk. At this point, he's barely ownable in AL-only leagues.
Wade Davis, P, Rays: You ever run into someone you haven't seen in a while and they look terrible? Like something the cat smurfed in? And you're like, "Whoa! What the smurf happened to you?" Wade Davis is the pitching equivalent of that. There is not a league out there in which he is currently ownable. Not a 12-team AL-only league. Not an AL East-only league. Not a "Only guys named Davis" league. Nothing. I stupidly still own him in Tout Wars, but only because I can't find anyone to take him off my hands. I may actually have to just drop him. A horrific 50/38 K-BB rate in 109 innings pitched should tell you everything you need to know.
Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians: After Grady Sizemore came back and hit a home run in his first game this year, I said on Twitter, "Sell high." I got a lot of people who yelled, cursed and got really angry while demanding that Grady was gonna have a huge year. I've no issue with Grady personally. I've met him -- he's a great guy. And I don't root for players to get injured. But to all those people who yelled and called me names? I hope you're forced to sit through "The Smurfs" this weekend. Twice.
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals: Now batting below the Mendoza line, he just looks overmatched and not ready for prime time yet. His ownership isn't high (just over 8 percent at this point), but it's more than Wilson Betemit, whom I'd rather have.
Jair Jurrjens, P, Braves: His K/9 is under six, his xFIP suggests he's a 3.78 pitcher this year, which sounds about right. Solid guy, mid-three ERA and some strikeouts and wins. But he's not this good.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP, Nationals: Already going to be shut down early; it can't come too smurfing early as he's allowed four earned runs or more in three of his past four and has a July ERA of 6.00.
Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Astros: This kills me because I love him, but even if he gets traded, his strikeouts are down and believe it or not, he's actually gotten a little lucky this year, with a strand rate of over 80 percent. And if he doesn't get dealt, it's, um, not so good a team.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- urges you and your family to get outside this weekend. Get some fresh air. Berry is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend
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