May 19, 2009
Let's be clear about a few things up front. I love baseball. I dig fantasy baseball. I love my job and I don't take it for granted. I enjoy staying up late every night, pouring over boxscores, listening to Vin Scully and Gary Cohen, making trades and adding new players. The professional goal in anyone's adult life is to find a vocation you're passionate about, and I've been lucky enough to work that plan.
All that said, there are some pet peeves that come with a life in baseball (and fantasy baseball), and rather than air one or two a week at the end of a Closing Time, I'm going to purge them all now. You might have heard some of these before, and I apologize for that. This column isn't for you, it's for me.
A few things about this great game that kinda get under my skin:
• Fantasy scribes who give out advice that's impossible to execute. Sure, buy Albert Pujols(notes) low, I'll get right on that. Sure, pick up Ryan Franklin(notes) in an NL-only league, what a great idea – I'm sure no one noticed all those saves. Buy Justin Verlander(notes), low, after he's pitched like Walter Johnson for three weeks? Outstanding play!
• The celebration of insignificant milestones. Excuse me if I don't tear up when someone hits their 350th double or steals their 150th base. Page me when something really important happens.
• The disappearing fielding error. Back when I was a lad, fielders were allowed to make an error, school papers were graded in red ink and not everyone got a trophy at the end of the year. Fast forward to today, where most official scorers live by a simple credo: when in doubt, make the hitter and the fielder happy. Screw the pitcher.
• Being offered three 3s for a 10. I'm sure you get the offers, too – some chucklehead in your league really thinks you might give him Miguel Cabrera(notes) for Julio Lugo(notes), Jeff Suppan(notes) and Dan Wheeler(notes).
• The mismanagement of the modern bullpen. Fantasy owners know as well as anyone that most of the managers in The Show are beholden to the save rule, afraid to think outside the box or try something imaginative. It doesn't matter if the game is getting away in the seventh or eighth inning, you must save your ace reliever for the ninth – that's when the save gets recorded! I salute the rare skipper who's not afraid to shake up convention and actually play to win the game, not play to satisfy a stat column.
• Anyone who needs multiple days to mull a trade offer. What do these owners do with their 48-72 hours, run a background check? There's no reason why any trade negotiation between available owners should drag on multiple days. If you don't have a fit, fine, you don't have a fit. If you're gone for the weekend, cool, no worrie. But if you're closing in on something, quit with the stalling; do your homework, make a decision, move on with your life.
• Rainouts on a Sunday. Nothing is quite as crushing as the head-to-head fantasy loss that's fueled by a lack of participation on the final day of the week.
• Day-to-day that turns into week-to-week. And the corollary to this: most players will find a way to go on the disabled list between 12-24 hours after your switch-up deadline for the week.
• Those antiquated 4x4 leagues. Baseball is about runs, amigos. How could that be left out of the original game? And when you bring strikeouts into the equation, you say goodbye to innings-pitched minimums and the crazy idea that middle relievers should be dominant fantasy commodities.
• Chris Berman in the announcer's booth. The only worse thing than Chris Berman calling a baseball game is Chris Berman on a golf telecast. And don't even get me started on Steve Phillips and Joe Morgan. (Am I picking on ESPN here? Hardly. I just want to listen to Dan Shulman and Jon Miller and Sean McDonough and Peter Gammons – the people who get it.)
• The Art of War owners. You're transparent and you're not fooling anyone.
• "I told you so." Any fantasy writer that constantly refers back to his "hits" deserves to spontaneously combust. The more realistic in our business realize we're going to be right and wrong quite often sitting in this chair, and there's no reason to do a lot of sack dancing in public. Eventually, we all get humbled, one way or another.
Speed Round: Grown men shouldn't bring a glove to the park. … Any weekend game in October should be played in the daytime. … I don't care if someone bunts to break up a no-hitter or steals in a lopsided game – if the other team doesn't like it, do something about it. … The cost of food at the ballpark is ridiculous. … Why throw at a batter who hits a few home runs? Does the hitter chuck his bat at a sizzling pitcher?
I could write a bunch more of these and I'm sure a bunch will come to my mind as soon as I post this, but I need to get going – I've got a few trades to reject, and I don't want to miss Johnny Damon(notes) chasing that 95th triple.
Go ahead, add some of your own, you know you want to.