Back during my 80s childhood, Cable TV was actually a pretty big thing. No more manually changing the channel; everything was wired through a remote. No more rabbit ears and cumbersome antennas; a cable subscription ensured a perfect picture. Sometimes you got lucky, WGN or WTBS would be showing a baseball game. Sometimes you got really lucky, if you knew how to hack into the movie channels late at night.
Finally, you could endlessly surf up and down the dial, even if it led to the inevitable conclusion: fifty-seven channels and nothing on. (Forget about all of this in Ridgemont; one of the latest cities to modernize.)
And then there was Music Television, good old MTV. At one point in time MTV was actually a cool thing, a valued property, a hotspot. Music videos weren't hard to find, and some of the non-video programming was actually worth watching. Take Remote Control for example, a wacky and campy trivia show set in some guy's basement (oddly, it felt like the most harmless and fun thing in the world at the time. Typing this, I suspect the vibe doesn't translate). Contestants sat in a Lay-Z-Boy recliner, used a remote control to navigate the playing board, did their best in categories like Brady Physics or Dead or Canadian?
What does all this have to do with fantasy baseball? Oh, nothing. But we'll get there in a moment.
Likable everyman Ken Ober was your Remote Control quizzmaster. The Lovely Marisol (and later, Kari Wuhrer) served as hostess. Adam Sandler occasionally wandered in and did a bit called Trivia Delinquent, one of the highlights of his career if you ask me (right below Punch Drunk Love). And then there was a silly little spot that revolved around gameshow MC Colin Quinn hacking out a song, a category called "Sing Along With Colin." The contestants loved this category, for some reason.
Quinn couldn't carry a tune, and of course the entire purpose of his gig was to sing as out of tune as possible. It was so horrendous, it actually had a sneaky charm. After a while, you'd almost talk yourself into the segment. And that's how I feel these days about the Houston Astros pitching staff.
The fantasy public had no idea what to do with McHugh after his dazzling season debut at Seattle (6.2 scoreless, no walks, 12 strikeouts). He beat Oakland the next turn (8.1 IP, one run) but fell apart against Seattle (six runs, five earned) in start three. At that point, the easy angle was to kick McHugh to the curb, call his two wins a fluke. No pedigree here, no preseason expectations, how dare he surprise us like that? Kick the journeyman to the curb.
But here's the funny thing: McHugh's been pretty good since, posting three strong turns out of four. His last start was a bagel parade Tuesday night against the Royals (5 H, 0 R, 9 K), and for the year he has a 2.80 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 45 innings. (Dial up the latest scouting report, video killed the internet star.)
The under-the-hood numbers go to bat for McHugh. His FIP and xFIP are both under three. A .261 BABIP is lucky, but not the royal scam of the century. The walk and strikeout rates stump for him (10 K/9, 2.4 BB/9). He's faced his share of quality opponents: Angels, White Sox, Orioles, Athletics. A shame he never gets to pick against his own ballclub.
If you can't beat him, why not join him? His next three assignments come against Baltimore (at least it's at home), at Minnesota (like it) and against Arizona (at home, fine with me). Sounds like someone who should be owned in more than 17 percent of Yahoo leagues. Who's with me?
• No one wants to sing along with Carlos Santana this year, of course. Santana's Out Making Tour 2014 was put on temporary hiatus Tuesday; he's dealing with a concussion and will miss at least a week of time. Surely you can find someone else to step in for his .159/.327/.301 slash, and maybe it's time for a cash-out trade as well.
Can you get another Top 12-15 catcher for Santana? I'd strongly consider doing it. Devin Mesoraco? Slam dunk. Mesoraco feels like a Top 10 guy to me, anyway. Yan Gomes? I'm in. A.J. Pierzynski? You're flushing all upside, but sometimes floor matters, too. Wilson Ramos? Spotty injury history, but I could see a toss of the dice. When does a bad start become a bad season?
Santana's injury is good for the Lonnie Chisenhall sympathizers; now the Indians can keep Chisenhall at third base and Gomes at catcher. Chisenhall looks like the classic post-hype sleeper coming into bloom; he's rocking a .370-20-2-10-2 line through 119 at-bats, unclaimed in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. The prospect hounds were all over Chisenhall at the beginning of the decade, and he's still just 25.
• The theme of John Axford's 2014 season has been Dead and Canadian. He lost the closer gig a few weeks back, battling homer problems and control issues. But perhaps The Axman isn't far away from a second chance. He's posted a zero in seven of his last eight appearances, with nine strikeouts against four walks. Cleveland's other relievers haven't taken advantage of their window of opportunity. Make sure Axford wasn't dropped in your league.