Friday, July 30, 2010

15 Draft Day Tips For Success in 2010

1) Do your homework – Whoever said “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail” must have been a fantasy football player. Occasionally you can luck your way into a good team…that certainly happens, but for the most part, you need to do your homework. Look at several different sets of rankings, participate in mock drafts, and pay attention during the preseason games.

2) Know your drafting site’s rankings – This sounds simple, but given how many sites are running fully operational fantasy football leagues this year, the rankings are all over the place. I’ve done several mock drafts on both Yahoo and ESPN where I’ve seen a first or second-round player in either drop to the third, fourth, or even fifth round…mostly because of the discrepancy in rankings. If you’re not used to seeing Javid Best there in the fourth round because the site you’re using for mock drafts has him going in the second, you might unnecessarily snatch him up in an earlier round when in reality, his ranking on the site you’ll actually be drafting on justifies taking him later.

3) Maximize Player Value – The goal of any fantasy owner should be to walk away from the draft having drafted as many of the highest rated players at a given position as possible. As such, it is imperative that you pay attention to where the top guys are ranked and are going in expert mock drafts and mock drafts you participate in. For example, if you are drafting outside of the top 5 in your draft, then you could very reasonably draft Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or Andre Johnson. In the event that a top five running back doesn’t fall to you, it is perfectly fine to draft one or two of these players (taking one in the first and one in the second). While it is risky to not load up on stud RBs, you’ve just armed yourself with the consensus #1 WR in fantasy football and potentially a top three QB.

As you go throughout the draft, keep value in mind when you make your pick. Is it risky to pass on a RB take Antonio Gates in the fourth round? Yes, but having a TE that you don’t have to worry about for all but your bye week is a nice luxury to have. The more top players at each position you have, the better your chances of fantasy success. Additionally, if you’ve landed a QB, WR, and TE in your top four picks, you’re going to force others to start trying to fill in the holes on their teams…and then you’ll likely see a few higher rated players drop to you.

4) Stick to your board – Whether you use your own ranking system, someone else’s or your drafting websites, it’s a good idea to stick to your board. If you have determined that you cannot get a top five QB after round three, and Matt Schaub is the only top five QB left on the board when you pick, take him. Other players might fall to you, but if you’ve determined that certain players or certain positions are “must gets” in a certain round, stick to that and trust your rankings.

5) If you like a guy, take him – This piggy backs on #4. Every fantasy player goes into a draft with a handful of guys, be them studs or sleepers that they want to have on their fantasy roster. If you find yourself picking 7th or 8th and have targeted Andre Johnson or DeAngelo Williams and then all of the sudden a higher rated guy that you don’t like, say Steven Jackson or Michael Turner falls in your lap, take the guy you like. It may sound funny, but you never want to have drafter’s remorse before your season starts. This principle is particularly more important in later rounds when you’re drafting for potential and hoping you hit it big.

6) If you don’t like a guy, don’t take him – Same principle, just reversed. For some reason, I have a huge aversion to Steven Jackson. I don’t know if it is the Rams or his seemingly glass body or what it is, but I just don’t like him as a top five stud RB (I seem to be disagreeing with the experts on this one). I pick 10th in two of my leagues this year and if Jackson is there at 10, he’s going to be there at 11 because I will not be drafting him. Again, you don’t want to have a team full of guys you have drafter’s remorse over, so if you don’t like Tony Romo as your fantasy QB this year, simply let him go and take the next best guy.

7) Draft players on good teams – With very few exceptions, this has been a staple of my involvement in fantasy football for several years. Last year, a friend was very high on Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. I told him time and time again that while Johnson was talented, he just wasn’t worth taking in the second round given that the Lions had 2-14 written all over them. That is not to say that if he were available in, say, round four that he’s not then a good value, but good players on bad teams are just very risky picks…especially at the top of the draft. If the choice comes down to a good player on a good team vs. a good player on a bad team, take the former, then you won’t be wringing your hands about selecting Steven Jackson in the first round when the Rams are down 28 and throwing the ball, completely neutralizing your top pick.

8) Look out for number 1s – This runs a hair contradictory to the last few tips, but remember, these drafts are all about value. Take the Rams for example. Donnie Avery is likely going to be their #1 WR this season. He will get a lot of targets and they might be throwing quite a bit in the second half. He is a guy that you can probably take in the tenth round or lower and potentially get great value out of because he’s a number 1 WR. Likewise, Cadillac Williams will not draw much consideration in the first six or so rounds of most drafts, but if he is sitting there in the eighth or ninth round and you can get him, do it. You’ve just added another #1 RB to your stable of 3-4 RBs. If he doesn’t perform, you can cut him, but at least you’re stacking your roster with #1 players rather than a 3rd or 4th best also-ran receiver that may or may not perform well.

9) Take advantage of other people’s reaches – Last year in one of my 12 team leagues I picked 8th. I watched as guys like Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, LT, and Steve Slaton were all taken over Maurice Jones-Drew. When it was my time to pick at 8, I nabbed the 3rd highest rated player in the draft in Jones-Drew and took advantage of other players reaching on guys that they liked. Picking a player you like is fine (the guy who took McNabb 3rd overall played for the title) but you open yourself up for others to take advantage of you reaching for players. Keep an eye out for the egregious reaches in your league and take advantage of the value that falls your way.

10) Be ready for anything and everything – The previous example shows just how crazy some drafts can get. I had no idea I’d even have a shot at Jones-Drew, but my draft just fell the right way for me and I was able to get him. This kind of thing will happen in your draft. You’ll be deciding between DeAngelo Williams and Shon Greene and all of the sudden your pick will come and Frank Gore will be sitting there. Be ready to change your strategy if a great value presents itself.

11) Watch the byes – Every fantasy owner gets the bye-week-blues a minimum of one time during the season. When drafting, pay attention to the bye week for the players because if you don’t you could end up in a really bad spot where 3-4 of your players are out. I would also suggest not drafting a Kicker and a Defense (and a TE for that matter) with the same bye. It’ll be hard to create the roster space to carry two of any of those positions and if you end up having to, you’re going to put a good player out on the waiver wire for the rest of your league to snatch up because of your drafting error.

12) Find the sleepers – Every year 2-3 (sometimes more) players emerge 3 weeks into the season as big time players. Last year, Ray Rice, Sydney Rice, Steve Smith (NYG), and Miles Austin were all “under the radar” guys that blew up. When the experts say “watch out for this guy or that guy” listen to them. Sometimes they’ll strike out, but when they’re right, it gives you home-run potential. I got Ray Rice in the 9th round last year…do you think I don’t wish my league was a keeper league? Check back here in a few weeks to check out some of my sleeper picks.

13) Don’t over-think! – This one kind of falls under several that have already been mentioned, but don’t over-think your picks. I’ve seen fantasy owner after fantasy owner talk themselves out of taking a player with good value and potential for no real good reason at all. Just because unproven guys like Javid Best and Ryan Matthews are ranked highly doesn’t mean you need to take them over a proven entity like DeAngelo Williams…or do you? No yes, yes no. Don’t over-think!

14) Don’t take a kicker before the last round – The point separation between kickers is so minimal that you should be able to draft a good kicker in the last round. Someone in your league will foolishly take one in the 12th round, but that just gives you access to better players that are available in that spot. Kickers are an important part of FF, but should not be taken before the last round.

15) Create a post-draft watch list immediately – Many fantasy football sites allow you to create a “watch” list of undrafted players that you want to keep an eye on. This way, if you like a player but don’t have the initial roster space, you can put him on your watch list and have easy access to his stats in the event that he has a good week or two and one of your later round players doesn’t. This will also give you a leg up when bye weeks come around.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Consensus Top 60 for 2010

We are a week away from NFL training camps opening, which means we're roughly 5-6 weeks away from the start of the NFL season and about 4-5 weeks away from most fantasy drafts. At this time of year you get a lot of opinions and conjecture as to who the top fantasy producers will be. Thus far, I've looked at 7 different sets of player rankings and while many of them agree who should go at the top of the draft, the rest is up for debate.

To bring some order to this chaos, I've compiled a comprehensive ranking list of the top 60 players in fantasy football, which represents 5 rounds of a standard 12 team draft. I came up with a fairly simple formula that, in fantasy football, majority rules. So, I lined up all 7 lists each with 150-200 players ranked and went through line by line. Once a player received 4 "votes" or more, he is added to the list in order. If two players received enough "votes" on the same line, the advantage went to the player that had the highest individual ranking from any of the lists. So, it's not a true consensus, however, it's a very interesting exercise and presents a unique view of who all these experts believe to be the top players in fantasy football for 2010.

The 7 fantasy football experts I pulled rankings from are:, Eric Karabell (ESPN), Matthew Berry (ESPN), General ESPN top 200, Christopher Harris (ESPN), Yahoo top 150, and

As you read through, take note of the highest and lowest ranking for each player, some of the ranges (essentially disagreements amongst experts) are staggaring.

Name: (Highest Rank, Lowest Rank)

1.Chris Johnson, RB TEN (1, 2)
2.Adrian Peterson, RB MIN (1, 2)
3.Maurice Jones-Drew, RB JAC (3, 3)
4 Ray Rice, RB BAL (4, 5)
5 Frank Gore, RB SF (4, 11)
6 Steven Jackson, RB STL (5, 21)
7 Andre Johnson, WR HOU (6, 12)
8 Michael Turner, RB ATL (5, 11)
9 Drew Brees, QB NO (7, 10)
10 Aaron Rodgers, QB GB (6, 13)
11 Rashard Mendenhall, RB PIT (8, 19)
12 Randy Moss, WR NE (9, 18)


At the top, 6 of the 7 experts say Chris Johnson, with one taking Adrian Peterson. Most of them agree on the top 4. Beyond that is a little more up in the air. One unique thing about this season is that you may very well see a QB or WR go in the top 5, which would be unheard of in seasons past.

13 DeAngelo Willams, RB CAR (7, 44)
14 Larry Fitzgerald, WR ARI (12, 18)
15 Peyton Manning, QB IND (10, 24)
16 Shonn Green, RB NYJ (15, 31)
17 Ryan Grant, RB GB (12, 23)
18 Reggie Wayne, WR IND (12, 34)
19 Jamaal Charles, RB KC (15, 33)
20 Ryan Matthews, RB SD (9, 33)
21 Cedric Benson, RB CIN (11, 46)
22 Roddy White, WR ATL (19, 27)
23 Calvin Johnson, WR DET (20, 31)
24 Miles Austin, WR DAL (14, 28)

A number of fantasy experts believe that it is paramount that fantasy owners get one of the top ranked WRs and this mindset is reflected in the rankings as the round two rankings show nearly half of the players being WRs. Larry Fitzgerald suffers a drop in ranking from last year due to a new QB in Matt Leinart. Miles Austin makes a huge leap into round 2 consideration after coming out of nowhere to have a huge season last year.

25 Tom Brady, QB NE (15, 26)
26 Brandon Marshall, WR MIA (16, 36)
27 Knowshown Moreno, RB DEN (17, 35)
28 Beanie Wells, RB ARI (22, 38)
29 Greg Jennings, WR GB (26, 35)
30 Tony Romo, QB DAL (16, 57)
31 Jonathan Stewart, RB CAR (17, 49)
32 Sydney Rice, WR MIN (21, 37)
33 Marques Colston, WR NO (26, 36)
34 Desean Jackson, WR PHI (26, 36)
35 Philip Rivers, QB SD (29, 74)
36 Pierre Thomas, RB NO (10, 45)


Tom Brady drops into the third round rankings, but he is still such a big name that I suspect he'll still be the 4th QB off the board. Jonathan Stewart is part of a dynamic one-two punch in Carolina and his ranking at 31 ahead of a number of starting RBs shows how much respect the experts have for the Panther rushing attack.

37 Lesean McCoy, RB PHI (27, 47)
38 Matt Schuab, QB HOU (27, 51)
39 Steve Smith, WR CAR (28, 47)
40 Anquon Boldin, WR BAL (18, 46)
41 Joseph Addai, RB IND (38, 52)
42 Dallas Clark, TE IND (33, 53)
43 Felix Jones, RB DAL (37, 53)
44 Ronnie Brown, RB MIA (43, 51)
45 Steve Smith, WR NYG (38, 53)
46 Antonio Gates, TE SD (32, 56)
47 Matt Forte, RB CHI (35, 81)
48 Brandon Jacobs, RB NYG (36, 68)

Matt Forte goes from a top 5 pick last year to a fourth round ranking in 2010, which is a pretty remarkable drop in just one year. Can he bounce back? If he can return to his 2008 form, he's a great value in the fourth round. We also see the best two TEs of the past several seasons coming off the board in round four. If you can't get a top WR, Clark and Gates have the potential to score and score big in 2010, especially Gates who will be the top target in San Diego as long as Vincent Jackson is suspended/holds out.

49 Mike Simms-Walker, WR JAC (45, 64)
50 Chad OchoCinco, WR CIN (42, 64)
51 Michael Crabtree, WR SF (38, 64)
52 Hines Ward, WR PIT (50, 68)
53 Ricky Williams, RB MIA (48, 93)
54 Vernon Davis, TE SF (33, 68)
55 Dwayne Bowe, WR KC (48, 63)
56 Javid Best, RB DET (36, 95)
57 *Vincent Jackson, WR SD (41, 107)
58 Percy Harvin, WR MIN (45, 79)
59 Brent Celek, TE PHI (53, 65)
60 Donald Driver, WR GB (56, 86)
*suspended first 3 games of 2010 Season


Fantasy experts slot potential breakout Michael Crabtree as a fifth round value as well as his teammate Vernon Davis. If Alex Smith can finally put together a good season behind center (he had a good second half last year) both Davis and Crabtree could be fantasy breakouts. Rooke Lions RB Javid Best is looking to capitalize on incumbant Kevin Smith's knee injury...if he can hold Smith off in training camp, he could be poised for a big rookie year. I like that guys like Best and Crabtree are mixed in with Hines Ward and Donald Driver. These veteran wideouts are often forgotten but year after year seem to put up solid fantasy numbers.
Totals: RB 26, WR 23, QB 7, TE 4 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Misadventures in Bad Parenting: Bowling

This past weekend we took our daughter to a Bowling birthday party. This was her first experience bowling so we weren't quite sure how she would do. Overall, she was pretty excited, but she tends to startle easily and the first sounds of the ball hitting the pins made her pause and take a few steps back. It took some convincing, but I finally got her up to the lane to bowl. We had one of those ramp things so all she really had to do was push the ball, which she did. The ball didn't have a lot of velocity on it coming off the ramp because, well, she's two. Nevertheless she got a few pins and we were on our way.

It was at this point that I decided to start working the crowd...or at least anyone who would listen to me. The comedy came out of the unique ability that many fathers/men have to turn everything into a contest. By dang, my kid will be the best 2-year-old bowler here, I thought! So, as I was rambling on about how embarassing my daughter's performance was thus far, I drifted back to get the 8lb ball for her to push for the second part of her turn. Unbeknownst to me, she had drifted back with me. Just as I was delivering the punchline to my joke, it turns out I was also delivering an 8lb bowling ball to my kid's forehead. I picked up the ball, told my joke, turned, and WHAM! Knocked her down with one clean shot to the head with a bowling ball.

As she was screaming, I went from stunned to embarassed to feeling like the worst parent in the world for having just put my kid down with a bowling ball for crying out loud. If you ever want to feel really bad about yourself, accidentally injure one of your's a real trip.

If you want to feel even smaller, have your buddy email you a video of his kid bowling with you in the background taking a bowling ball to your kid's head with the headline "Someone Call Child Protective Services!"

What a Pinhead!

Friday, July 16, 2010

6 Ways Mock Drafting Can Help You in 2010

Note: Welcome to the debut of my weekly fantasy football column. Sadly, the blog I had created to focus soley on fantasy football had to go the way of the dodo bird or skeelo, but his is a good compromise for me and I look forward to providing whatever insights or tips I can to help you this fantasy football season.

Last year, I participated in literally over 100 mock drafts en route to an outstanding fantasy football year. This year, the Mock drafting has come early and often! Some may scoff or even mock the mock drafting process, but here are some benefits to mock drafting:

1) Test your draft position – If you are in a league where the drafting order is based off of the previous seasons’ standings, you already know your slot and can draft in that slot time after time to get a feel for who might be there when you pick. If you don’t know where you’ll pick, it allows you to test out different slots and see where certain guys are being drafted. By the time I drafted, I had a rough idea of what guys would be available at the slots I was picking in first few rounds of my drafts. This really is an undervalued advantage on draft day. If a guy falls to you that hasn’t been around in most of your mock drafts, you know you’re getting good value.

2) Challenge your board – Even if you don’t have a full on ranking system or draft board, you still have a pretty good idea about who you like heading into a draft. Mock drafting allows you to test how much you like a player. For example, if you are picking 7th and you’ve targeted Drew Brees as your pick but suddenly a Ray Rice or a Frank Gore slips (it happens), what are you going to do? Luckily, a mock draft gives you the flexibility to test yourself and your board so that you’re ready come draft day so that if a surprise happens and a guy like Gore falls to you and you can take him knowing that you’ll already have an idea of another QB that could be on the board for you at a subsequent pick.

3) Try out drafting strategies – After listening to the experts prior to last year, I entertained the idea that a team that went WR, WR with its first two picks could be formidable. In several mock drafts I drafted Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss 1 and 2 just to see what my RB options were in that scenario. When the time came to draft a team in one of my leagues, I was confident enough in this strategy to know that it would 1) still leave me with good options at RB and 2) put pressure on the other teams in my league to snag WRs, leaving solid RBs to fall to me.

4) Find out what others are thinking – Fantasy drafts are completely unpredictable; however, the more mocks you participate in, the more exposure you have to the true unpredictability of the draft…and you may even be able to spot trends. If people are routinely taking Tom Brady or Drew Brees in the top 5 in your mock draft, then you know there is a chance that someone might reach for one of them in your fantasy draft. It helps you be ready for anything, and it will assist you in figuring out your rankings so that you can make the good picks when it counts. I did this last year with Ray Rice. I watched as he slipped round by round in many a mock draft and by the time I drafted each of my teams, I was able to snag him in a later round, because I knew he wasn’t high on the radar as he maybe should’ve been. This year, the guys that could help a quality player fall to you will be Andre Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees.

5) See and understand the rankings – Sometimes it’s difficult to contextualize player rankings until you see it in a draft format and see players come off the board. Knowing that Matt Schuab is the 6th ranked QB doesn’t mean much until you line him up against all of the other players in the draft to see where he might fall. If you just look at his ranking, maybe you take him in the 2nd round, when really you could get a #1 WR or #2 RB and still snag him as your QB in round 3 or 4. Plus, you’ll know exactly where the guys you like are. This is important for later rounds when you’re drafting more for potential. A lot of people when drafting only see what is immediately in front o f them on the screen, but if you’re sitting there in the 10th round and you know Wes Welker is listed in the late 100s early 200s because of his ACL injury, you can take him there and stow him away. It could help you get some really nice steals…particularly with rookies that have great upside.

6) It’s fun! – If you are a fantasy nut, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re looking to improve your standing, hear me now, thank me later. Not only will you learn a few things along the way, you’ll have a lot of fun doing it.

So there you have it. You may be mocked, but in the end, mock drafting could definitely help you in your 2010 fantasy football preparation more than almost anything else you can do to prepare.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Losing it Update: Cough Like You Mean It!

Let’s start with the weight loss. This past Saturday, I weighed in at 258.4, so we’ll go ahead and round that down to 258. I have not seen that number since then, and weighed in at the doc’s office at 261, but since I have to rely on my home scale, we’ll call it 258 and a 7lb weight loss thus far (and will throw in a give or take .5lbs to be fair).

The 6 week mark marked the time for me to go in for a physical. I had wanted to be able to go in on 6 solid weeks of exercise and eating better but (here comes my laundry list of excuses summed up in one sentence) a lot of things got in the way of that, not the least of which has been the un-June like heat we’ve been experiencing out here in the East. As a result, I haven’t been able to exercise as much as I would’ve liked, but I’m managing.

I had forgotten what all was entailed in a physical. For some reason, I was pretty nervous about the whole thing…I mean, really, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I’d get some form of bad news through the process so I guess this was just the beginning of that inevitability. My doctor and I talked about my medical history and that of my family as well as what other concerns I had about my current medical state. Towards the end, the suggestion was made that I get a tetanus shot...great! I asked if I could get a sucker for my troubles like my daughter does when she gets shots…nope!

The exam went fine for the most part…blood pressure a little high, but other than that, doing pretty good, though there was a particular moment where I was asked to cough like I meant it…which gave me a chuckle. She also asked if I was exercising regularly. If you’ve never told a doctor that one of the things you do to exercise is jogging in place while playing a video game you should try it, the incredulous look you get in return is priceless. “Does that really get your heart rate up?” She asked. I thought, “lady, if there’s no difference between jogging and playing the game and sitting around and playing the game then guess which option I’ll choose?.” Of course it makes a difference! I’d actually lost 14 during a previous fitness challenge pretty much doing exclusively that. It was on to the shot and blood work after that exchange.

Let me just say that I am not a huge fan of shots/and or needles in general. In fact, knowing this, I was asked to leave the room when my wife got the epidural on our first child. So as you can imagine, I was less than thrilled that in addition to getting blood taken, I had to get a tetanus shot. Two days later, my arm is still sore from that particular experience.

Afterwards, I asked the nurse if I was now safe to step on a rusty nail. That got a laugh and a hardy “no!” Tetanus isn’t to be messed around with though. In fact, shortly after the death of General Robert E. Lee his horse, Traveler had the misfortune of stepping on a rusty nail and that was it for him. So it is no joke. Here is an interesting nugget from Wikipedia, (so it must be true). The rough surface of rusty metal merely provides a prime habitat for a C. tetani endospore to reside, and the nail affords a means to puncture skin and deliver endospore into the wound.

The results came in and I’m borderline high on my cholesterol which I'll go on some medication for, and not out of the woods on my blood pressure which I am being asked to take daily, so I feel like I fall into the category of having a lot of work left to do. Here’s to some harder weeks ahead!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Life and Death of Turf Toe Fantasy Football

(Think of James Taylor’s Fire and Rain)
Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone
Turf Toe the plans I made put an end to you
I walked out this morning, and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to (because you’re a blog)
I’ve seen Manning, I’ve seen Brees
I’ve seen Chris Johnson runs that I thought would never end
I’ve seen Randy Moss pout like he didn’t have a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again.

It is with some sadness that I announce that the blog I started just a few short months ago, Turf Toe Fantasy Football, has died (been deleted).

After a great deal of success in the fantasy football realm over the last several years, I decided that I was going to start a fantasy football blog. I had read the experts opinions and formed my own draft and ownership strategy, which lead me to make the semi-finals in each of my four fantasy football leagues. Though this did not result in any championships last year, I still had a solid year in all four leagues and have still amassed an overall winning record in fantasy football. All of this lead me to believe that it was time for me to strike out on my own and start a fantasy football blog.

I launched the blog in late May, but had planned an official launch for later this month. However, after just three posts, I have decided that it is in my best interests as a husband, father, and fantasy football guru to not continue with the blog. The time commitment is more than I can offer right now. With a long commute, a brand-new baby, potential move, and other such things taking up my time, I don’t think I can truly offer what little readership there might be my absolute best.

The news is not all bad though!

I have decided that moving forward, I will write a weekly fantasy football column on Loose Change and that is how I will get my advice, opinions, and knowledge out to anyone who is interested in reading. This will be released every Friday through football season and beyond if the news and/or demand merits it. I hope that those of you out there with an interest in fantasy football will visit often and help me get my fantasy football fix. Look for my first post next Friday.

So long Turf Toe, we hardly knew ye.

Turf Toe Fantasy Football: May 28, 2010 – July 8, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Flop of July

Let me just say this about July as a month. It sucks. It is the worst sporting month of the year. It’s beastly hot. And, after the 4th of July, what is there really to look forward to. Living through July every year is like driving through Nebraska. Sure, Omaha and Lincoln are nice, but both appear within the first few hundred miles of the state. Then what? Kearny? North Platte? Nice, but boring. Corn fields all the way into Wyoming. (My apologies to any Nebraska enthusiasts that may read my blog). The point is, July is a rough month to have to deal with on all fronts. This is why the 4th is so important. Not only do we get to celebrate our independence as a nation, but we get to light off lots and lots of fireworks.

Last year, my daughter wasn’t old enough to appreciate the awe and wonder of a fireworks show. This year, my plan was simple…stretch the 4th into an entire weekend of fireworks and festivities.

As we were driving home from CJ’s, a local Culpeper Ice Cream establishment, we decided that we needed to stop and stock up on fireworks for our 2-year-old to enjoy. The plan was to spend $5, maybe $10 dollars on some snakes and sparklers, you know the small stuff, but that didn’t last. The first thing I noticed were the tanks, we had to have a few of those. Then my wife picked up the disco flashes…that sounded like a good time. Then the guy that managed the stand told us that several of them were buy one get one free. How can you pass that up? All told, our $5-$10 outing turned out to be $23.00. Mind you, I could’ve spent the same amount of money and gotten a good sized show for myself at one of the local grocery stores, but nooooooooooo, I had to stop at the ridiculously priced fireworks stand. This was Friday.

Saturday came and with it came the official 4th of July celebration in Culpeper. I really like the small town celebrations of holidays like the 4th. Somehow it just seems more American. We attended a brief parade earlier in the day, and then headed to Yowell Park for the big town fireworks show. I had really been talking this up to my daughter all day and all week. She was pumped. Then the first firework went off and that’s when the water works started for her. I think the loud popping and the size of the fireworks in the sky combined with the apparent proximity to her was just a little too much for her two-year-old brain to process. The show delivered in a big way. It was in all honesty one of the best firework shows I have ever been to…and that includes downtown DC.

The next day, my daughter had gotten over whatever fear she had of fireworks and was once again ready to venture outside with dad and see some fireworks. We started off simple, with those snakes that you light and grow into ash…not very impressive. Next we fire up a few wooden sparklers. Wait what? Wooden sparklers…? Who knew they even made those. Not surprisingly, as the sparklers burned down, the ash would fall and it just so happened to fall on my brother’s foot. Great, 3 minutes into my show and we’re already down a man! We moved on to the Tanks, I thought to myself, “surely these would do the trick.” My recollection of the tanks from my childhood were that they moved…as though to say, “Look out neighbors, we’re coming for you.” The tanks I bought didn’t do bupkis and didn’t even move an inch. Prompting my mother to shout “Dud” before the tank even finished shooting out the few fireworks it had in it…though I wasn’t sure if she was talking about the tank or me as a showman.

Up next we had the disco flashes, which pretty much temporarily blinded me and the audience, which was both good and bad. Good because the rest of the show was not spectacular, bad because I could barely see what I was doing. But I pressed on and set up three “flowers.” I was going to light them in sequence and really wow the crowd. Just as the wick was lit on the first one and I was about to light the second one, my wife says, “You know those spin right?” Just then, the firework hit the ground and started spinning right towards me. I jumped 10 feet off the ground if I jumped an inch.

Several unimpressive fireworks later, my grandmother yells from the crowd, “Did you keep your receipt?” Ever been heckled by an 85-year-old woman?

Finally, I got a firework that had some pop…unfortunately, it had a little too much pop and the sparks shot dangerously close to the crowd and thus my two-year-old daughter and with that, her fireworks enthusiasm was once again gone.

And so ended my flop of July extravaganza, next year, I’m going to this place: