PAYING THE TROLLS

Lance Zierlein: Every spring, people on Twitter hate me

Titans adding help for Marcus Mariota? Nope. Fuel for trolls. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The term “troll” has become an infamous addition into our country’s lexicon thanks to the anonymity of social media - most notably Twitter. By now, we know that the world is filled with miserable people who use Twitter as a method of intentionally attacking others in an attempt to elicit a response.

Since being hired by NFL.com in the fall of 2014, I’ve been lucky enough to handle draft analysis for the website which includes draft profiles, team needs for all 32 teams, and television and digital broadcast duties at the Combine and during the NFL Draft.  It also includes mock drafts.

Mock anger

Nothing, and I mean nothing can prepare you for the angry hordes and Twitter trolls that you will be faced with when you release a mock draft on a national scale. For starters, you have to develop a feel for which prospects are really first-round worthy. Figuring that bit of information takes studying draft history, learning positional value and then understanding player evaluations in that particular draft.

Secondly, you have to have a feel for team needs and you have to understand that teams often pass on drafting what the fanbase considers to be the “top need” in order to draft a good player at another position. There is no way for any normal mock drafter to know the narrative of what a team needs most and who they are most likely to draft like a hardcore member of the fanbase. So when you make a selection that doesn’t match the narrative of need or player, get ready.

The NFL’s twitter account has 24.6 million followers. When the NFL tweets my mock drafts out to that many followers, I ready myself for a barrage of angry fans and hopeful trolls looking to assail me with gifs of trash cans on fire, people dying of laughter, and little children vomiting. I typically take four to five hours to finish a mock draft. I put an excessive amount of time and effort into my mock drafts and get vomiting children for my hard work.

When the initial deluge of gifs finishes, I’m left with at least one angry fan base. After my mock 3.0 was released, the Tennessee Titans fans were the offended party because I gave them tight end Hayden Hurst from South Carolina. Apparently many mock drafts are pushing tight end to the Titans and the fans are beyond fatigued with it.

I gave them tight end because Delanie Walker’s contract is up and the Titans will need to find another tight end who can help as a run blocker and pass-catcher for Marcus Mariota. This didn’t align with Titans fans and they’ve spent the last 20 hours telling me how lazy and stupid I am and that I’ve lost my credibility. Sometimes I wonder if they even realize that this isn’t their actual pick.

Show recommendation

Catastrophe - When  my wife and I were in Chicago visiting friends last summer, one of our friends suggested we watch Catastrophe on Amazon Prime Video. For starters, he said that the combination of Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan was absolutely hilarious as couple who has a one-weekend stand and are forced to make life decisions after she gets pregnant. They decide to marry and give it a shot and the show revolves around their relationship (abroad in England) and her pregnancy.

The show moves forward with different story-lines over the next two seasons, but if you are married you will probably recognize many of the conversations and situations they find themselves in. The show is written and acted by Delaney and Horgan and they capture real conversations and real issues in a unique and effective way.

 

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Houston gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

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