Fantasy baseball geek celebrates back-to-back meaningless victories

For the second straight year, my fantasy baseball team sprays fake champagne and lights up faux cigars in celebration of a fictitious trophy. It was a dominating year, until injuries threatened our championship hopes. But thanks to deft roster management, forsaking real friends and real responsibilities, we are again victorious.

Tim Sharp // Reuters
Tim Sharp // Reuters

I’d like to thank Adrian Beltre – your real team may be fighting for its Postseason life, but take comfort in knowing you’re already a champion (and that you can hit home runs on one knee). Robinson Cano, I’d pay you and Jay-Z 300 million Monopoly dollars to stay with my imaginary team. Matt Harvey, nobody thought you’d be a Cy Young contender (or even knew who you were)… but I knew I was drafting greatness.

And let us not forget Craig Gentry. You’ll likely never be relevant again, but in fantasy land, you were the perfect pickup for the final day of the season. Thanks for the stolen bases.

A special thank you to the real-life Twins and the Astros. Your horrendous lineups made stars of even my worst pitchers (when’s the last time Scott Kazmir won anybody anything?).

I’d like to thank my loving girlfriend, who has stood reluctantly beside me since before my first fantasy nerd blog post two years ago today (the blog post, I like to think, spurred my current winning streak). Without the use of her iPhone, my team might have never escaped the semifinal round. I still hope to enter my waiver claim one day, and have her join me in rotisserie bliss. She, meanwhile, tries to get me to play some Harry Potter game on the Internet. I tell her that I don’t have time for that fake stuff, at least not while I’m proposing trades to my nearest rivals, “The Flying Pancakes” and “Mr. Balls.”

Niklas Jansson // Wikimedia Commons

Finally, as athletes are inclined to thanking the true God of the universe for their actual sporting victories, I express my deepest appreciation for the blessing of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – a fake deity fit for a pretend game.

The offseason begins tomorrow. Five-plus months to build meaningful relationships*, advance professionally**, and improve upon my draft strategy to ensure a 3-peat in 2014.

 

* – Thus gaining access to more smartphones for emergency roster updates (as I still reside in the dark ages with no data plan)
** – Earning more time away from work during the baseball months

[Video] Did ESPN commentators call Mississippians poor?

Mississippians are passionate about our state. We know more about our famous alumni than most colleges. We celebrate our successes in spite (or because) of our status as the perennial underdog. And that means that when someone on the national stage disparages Mississippi, we attack… like Bulldogs, perhaps.

Midway through the first game of the College World Series finals, social media simmered with reports that the ESPN broadcast had taken at shot at the poorest state in the nation:

Even the university got in on the action:

 

I’ve reviewed the tape; here’s what was said:

Continue reading “[Video] Did ESPN commentators call Mississippians poor?”

Is throwing trash on the field ever okay? Musings from the upper deck at the Cardinals/Braves Wild Card Game

I was at Turner Field in Atlanta Friday to watch the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Atlanta Braves 6-3 in the first-ever Wild Card Play-in Game as part of the newly designed MLB Postseason.

The Braves played a terrible ballgame. They committed three errors, each leading to Cardinal runs. St. Louis managed only six hits, but scored six runs – four of them unearned. Atlanta, meanwhile, racked up 12 hits, but managed just three runs, leaving 10, 12, 18, 21 runners on base, depending on where you look (seriously, is it that difficult?).

The starting lineups before the game, as seen from my seats in the upper deck.

But none of that merits a blog post.

Then, “the call” was made by left field umpire Sam Holbrook in the bottom of the eighth inning – the common sense-defying, if not rule-defying application of the infield fly rule to a ball landing in the outfield some 225 feet from home plate.

How Holbrook could reason that St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma was exercising “ordinary effort,” or was “in position” to catch a ball he couldn’t see, or, to the casual observer, was anywhere near the infield, is beyond me. How Holbrook could think that the Atlanta baserunners were in any danger of being deceived into a double play and would be aided by his raising of an index finger less than a second before the ball hit the grass is again unfathomable.

How Holbrook could feel inanimate being relegated to calling fair or foul balls down a chalk line in the outfield; how he would desire to do something, even if it was out of his jurisdiction… that makes a little more sense.

But none of that merits a blog post, either.

Is the Wild Card Game right for baseball? Chipper Jones prophetically stood out against it just two weeks prior to the game being his last:

You say to yourself, we could possibly have the second- or third-best record in the National League when the season’s over and we have to play a one-game playoff just to get in, that doesn’t seem fair because anything can happen [in one game]. Now if you were to say the two wild-card teams will play a best two-out-of-three [series], I’d be OK with that. We play three-game series all the time, and we concentrate on winning those series all the time. I think it’s more fair from a standpoint that anything can happen in one game — a blown call by an umpire, a bad day at the office … at least in a two-of-three-game series you have some sort of leeway. [emphasis added]

Well before last night, I had sided with Jones. You don’t follow a 162-game regular season with a best-of-one playoff round. More than any other sport, the series is essential to baseball. Even a bad team can have one dominant pitcher capable of winning one game. Winning the Postseason rounds that follow require more complete teams than a one-game play-in can adequately determine.

But it’s great for ratings. And attendance. I don’t know if I would have made the drive to Atlanta for a Divisional Series contest. Knowing that I would see a definitive outcome at the end of that one game got me to the ballpark. Wild Card Play-in: Bad for baseball, but I loved it in person. The claim of hypocrisy is self-evident and duly noted.

But again, though my word count is getting there, none of this inspired me to write.

Continue reading “Is throwing trash on the field ever okay? Musings from the upper deck at the Cardinals/Braves Wild Card Game”

The last of the baseball card collectors

It was early Sunday morning. I grabbed some raisin bread and a banana and sat down in front of the television. Nothing prepares me for church like listening to people bicker about politics. But instead of meeting the press, I stumbled upon a piece on CBS that sent me down memory lane to old warehouses and hotel conference rooms, digging through dingy cardboard boxes, looking for loot to add to the oversized green plastic box I stored my treasures in until I grew old enough to realize how silly it looked to carry with me.

Some were colorful and metallic, others clean and crisp. Some were cut with the precision of a laser, others embossed, others glossed. There were the Diamond Kings and the diamonds in the rough, but it took mining the entire field to find all of the gems. And if you were lucky, you’d find the one that came with a stick of chewing gum.

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Continue reading “The last of the baseball card collectors”

Mariners outfielder Greg Halman killed – a brief tribute

Shocking news out of the Netherlands today, where Seattle Mariners prospect Greg Halman was found stabbed to death in his home. Halman’s brother has been arrested and is a suspect in the case.

Greg Halman made his major league debut a few months ago in the Seattle outfield. I saw him play as a member of the AA West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx in 2009 – a year in which he crushed 25 home runs. I gave the call on one of them:

Greg Halman home run v. Mississippi, Aug. 28, 2009 

Halman never hit for a high average, but he could send the ball flying like few in the minor leagues. He showed promise to do the same even at spacious Safeco Field.

Even seeing a guy play from the window of a press box, it changes how the news hits you. Makes it real. And tragic. My thoughts and prayers are with Halman’s family.