Blog

2013 Fantasy Baseball: Don’t Sleep on Matt Harvey

Full story as published 2/16/13 on Rantsports.com

By Rich Arleo

The New York Mets don’t boast a large amount of relevant fantasy baseball players, but they do have a particularly interesting young pitcher in Matt Harvey.

Harvey, a tall right-hander, made his debut last July and finished out the season strong for the Mets while helping some fantasy teams in a late-season push. In 10 starts, the 24-year-old won only three games but had an impressive 10.62 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) ratio with a 2.73 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He showed great strikeout ability in his quick ascension through the minor leagues, and he was able to translate that to the majors.

Harvey did have a little bit of luck. He had 81.3 percent of runners left on base while hitters had a low .262 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) against him. You could say that some of his success was from hitters’ unfamiliarity with the rookie. What’s encouraging, however, is the high strikeout rate and solid K/BB ratio. His 2.69 K/BB rate would have landed him in the top 20 in the majors if he had enough innings to qualify.

Hitters had a lot of trouble making contact on his pitches as he managed an incredible swinging-strike percentage of 12. To put that in perspective, Justin Verlander had an 11.7 swinging-strike percentage last season. He has a fastball that touches the mid-to-high 90s consistently and a tight slider that can hit 90 MPH as well. As long as he keeps his velocity up and can continue to control that slider, there’s no reason to believe he won’t become the Mets’ ace this season.

He is worth around $10 in auction leagues and is likely worth a pick near the 10th round in standard leagues. There’s always the risk that hitters catch on a bit, and he isn’t going to rack up a ton of wins on the Mets, but he absolutely has the stuff to be a dominant strikeout pitcher in 2013 and for years to come.

Read more at http://www.rantsports.com/fantasy/2013/02/16/2013-fantasy-baseball-dont-sleep-on-matt-harvey/?8TzxZkkeCKm8WiD8.99

2013 Fantasy Football Breakout Players: David Wilson

Full Post as Published 5/29/13 on Brunoboys.net and USAToday.com.

By Rich Arleo

Every year, fantasy football owners enter their drafts searching for the next big star. These aren’t the guys taken in the Round 1, but players who are ready to take that next step and become top fantasy football picks for years to come. We like to call them fantasy football breakout players.

Leading up to 2013 fantasy football drafts, we will take a look at different players that are ready to break out this season.
David Wilson, RB New York Giants

After being selected in the Round 1 of the 2012 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, many fantasy football players eyed Wilson as a possible starter for their teams. As a rookie, Wilson saw work immediately in Week 1, but lost a big fumble in the game (a bugaboo of his in college) and was immediately put in Tom Coughlin’s doghouse.

The rookie saw just seven touches in the first four games and gained 10 total yards. In Week 5, he again was given just two carries but he took one of them 40 yards in to the end zone, showing off the talent he clearly has for the first time in the NFL. Wilson ran seven times in a blowout victory the next week before touching the ball just 14 combined times in the next six days.

After shining in another blowout victory—running for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries—Coughlin had a bit more confidence in him as the season wound down. The coach didn’t have much of a choice with Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown both ailing, but the bottom line is that Wilson got his chance and ran with it. He finished the season with 358 yards on only 71 carries (5.0 yards per carry) with five touchdowns.

Now, with Bradshaw gone, Wilson looks to have every chance to step up and be the primary ball carrier in New York. Brown is still on the team and will likely see his fair share of work, however Wilson’s combination of power and speed makes him the more enticing option. Wilson pleased his coaches by being fumble free after Week 1 and he is mentality prepared to continue that hot finish he had last year.

With a full season under his belt, and no true competition, Wilson should be considered a top-20 running back with tons of upside. Fantasy football owners should draft Wilson as a RB2 entering the season and if he breakouts like we think he is capable of, expect even more. He is dynamic enough to be a top-tier RB2 option with the ability to be an top-10 fantasy football running back for years to come. Owners who play in fantasy football dynasty leagues should target him even higher than re-draft leagues.

Ward Melville Pulls Away From Smithtown West to Clinch County Title

(Full story as published June 2, 2013 on Three Village Patch)

By Rich Arleo

Seven-goal run caps 11-6 victory for Patriots.

375660_522825587765097_1986708392_n

A goal by Ward Melville senior captain Christian Mazzone with 11 seconds left in a tightly-contested first half helped turn the tide as part of a seven-goal run, sparking the Patriots to an 11-6 win in the Class A County Championship.

The game started off in a defensive struggle before a scoring flurry just over five minutes into the first. Ward Melville struck first at 7:25 with a goal by Kevin McKeever off an assist from Mazzone and then grabbed a two-goal lead just 30 seconds later when Brendan Hegarty buried one. It took Smithtown just 20 seconds to answer back, however, and stop the run with a goal of their own.

The Bulls were able to grab a 4-3 lead with a goal by John Day with 8:44 left in the second quarter, but it was the last time they would have the advantage. After Ward Melville’s Jack Bruckner tied it with just under five minutes left, goalie Daniel Nemirov made a huge save on a one-on-one chance which led to a transition and the game-winning goal from Mazzone with 11 seconds left in the half.

“I feel like whenever I can do my job in the cage and get a quick alley we’ll be able to get some transition which really turns the tables,” Nemirov said. “That was a two-goal swing to end the half which really gave us momentum in the locker room.”

The Patriots then scored five more unanswered to put the game to bed.

“We were feeling good at halftime,” Nemirov said. “We were right where we wanted to be in a perfect spot to take the win and we did the job.”

Head coach Michael Hoppey also credited the save and goal to end the half as a momentum swing, but was sure to note that it was their play in the third quarter that really clinched the win.

“We hadn’t been in alot of close games but we were anticipating it,” he said. “I think we played our best quarter of the year in the third quarter. This has been a big hurdle for us getting out of Suffolk County, a lot of time that’s the toughest game.”

Amidst speculation that he would be retiring after 32 years with the Three Village School District, a drenched Hoppey said shortly after his water-cooler shower, “It’s not official yet, we’re still figuring it out.”

Ward Melville moves on to play Massapequa Saturday at Hofstra for the Class A Long Island Championship.

“We looked at the tape of Massapequa and they’re a very good team,” Hoppey said, “so we’ve got our work cut out for us Saturday.”

Gay Miller Place Alumni Return to Inspire Current LGBTQ Students

(Full story as published on the Miller Place-Rocky Point Patch)

By Rich Arleo

Three alumni take part in the Live Out Loud organization’s Homecoming Project to speak with current LGBTQ Miller Place students.

647309a3d4e33ffd07c67835fa32bfd6

When Miller Place alumni Doug Shapiro, Kate O’Brien and Michael Pesce went to high school as gay youths, acceptance at the time in the 80’s and 90’s was tough to come by.

Fast forward to 2013, and while there is more widespread acceptance, LGBTQ youth still must deal with the challenges of coming out. The three alumni teamed up with Live Out Loud’s Homecoming Project and Miller Place High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance to share their stories with students going through their own struggles and triumphs; sharing the important message that while it is never easy, it can get better.

Live Out Loud has been doing their Homecoming Project since 2008 as a way of connecting youths to role models and leaders in the LGBTQ community.

“Kids are coming out younger and younger,” said founder Leo Preziosi, Jr. “A lot of times the support systems aren’t there so…the LGBT community has to play an active role.”

Shapiro, a 1988 graduate of Miller Place, had originally decided to take part in the project before inviting friends O’Brien and Pesce. The singer, actor, and voice-over talent was thrilled to see the support systems that these students now have.

“It was pretty empowering and wonderful,” Shapiro said. “Each of us were able to bring a certain element that was needed. I didn’t realize I was gay in high school despite really obvious signs, but now to have kids that are out and proud and to have students there to support them is a complete turnaround.”

Pesce, who like Shapiro graduated from Syracuse University as a theater actor, graduated from Miller Place in 1995. A longtime friend of Preziosi, Pesce jumped at the opportunity to speak as someone who is gay and comfortable with the label of his sexual orientation.

“It was a chance to explain to these kids how it felt back then when understanding my own innate sexuality was very confusing and how I found my way from where they’re sitting, through college to what I’m living now; an adult life where everything has fallen into place,” he said.

“I know at their age they may not necessarily feel that that’s going to be the case, even though there is currently much more visibility for the LGBTQ community.”

The message touched Rebecca Ogno, president of the school’s GSA, who helped organize the event.

“It was just such an inspiring message that each and everyone shared that day,” Ogno said. “Even coming from me as president of the GSA, myself being openly gay, it really did affect me that much. I know for a fact that even the people in the audience that were straight were just so moved…it was absolutely beautiful.”

O’Brien, a 1991 alumna of MPHS, is now Director of Education for a Jewish nonprofit organization in New York City.

After marrying her wife in 2010, she felt more and more that she needed to tell her story, “If for no other reason than to open people to the possibility that coming out to themselves and to others – as LGBTQ or in other ways they keep hidden – is part of becoming who they were created to be.”

“I was terrified walking into MPHS again for the first time since I graduated,”
O’Brien laughed. “It was a reparative experience. I came to give my support and to create a space for dialogue and imagination. I was overwhelmed to feel so embraced by my co-presenters, former teachers, and the students.”

While there is clearly more widespread acceptance of the LGBTQ community in today’s society, Pesce and Preziosi stressed that there is still a long way to go and the young kids and teens still have many obstacles to overcome.

“We’re not getting it right as a country,” Preziosi said. “There’s so much more that we can do to support students…high school really is the most important part.”

Pesce added, “It’s very difficult for myself as a member of the gay community to see what we’ve been seeing recently in the past couple of years, which is something those of us in the gay community have known for years, that the suicide rate is incredibly high for at risk youth, specifically LGBTQ. It’s very scary.”

If Ogno speaks for the majority of students in the room who listened to the three alumni speak, it’s clear that their message hit home and had a positive impact on everyone there.

“If anything it was just motivation, definitely inspiration to just keep going and keep being who you are,” she said.

“I would talk to all the kids in the school if I had the opportunity,” Pesce said, “ My story is one of an insecure gay youth, but all kids have something about which they feel insecure.

“All kids have to deal with the issue of ‘coming out’ in some way in reference to who they are or where they’re from. Kids are bullied for a myriad of reasons and no matter what that might be, we have to understand it and support them unconditionally.”