Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Fantasies Have Nothing To Do With Baseball

  • Don't ask:

It's not shtick when I repeatedly invoke Alfred's attempt to explain the Joker's motivations to Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Dark Knight. It goes as follows:

With respect, sir, perhaps this is a man that you don't fully understand.

Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

To be brutally honest, even I don't know exactly what I'm looking for.

I like money, but as a means to an end; not as the end unto itself. I certainly don't care what anyone thinks or says about me; and I definitely have no interest in fantasy baseball.

It's almost as if the games themselves no longer matter; presumably people make money with their fantasy teams if they're any good at putting them together, but the fantasy sports movement has begotten the stat zombies who boil human beings down to their statistical parts and fancy themselves as baseball experts because they won a fantasy league.

It's a vicious circle; I won in fantasy baseball, so why shouldn't I try my hand at real baseball.

There's something immoral to me about a Yankee fan bowing to expediency and betraying his on-field loyalties in favor of pragmatism trying to win a numerical competition. It strikes me as dishonorable to be livid about Jonathan Papelbon closing a game vs the Yankees, but holding a vested interest if he does because he's part of your fantasy "team".

"Keeper Leagues"; "Money Leagues"; "Blah, blah, blah Leagues"; there are people who have no concern whatsoever about the sport itself, but have a forum because it's marketable, salable and popular for anyone and everyone to have a team or twenty potentially garnering them some cash.

I've been told that my book (still available) is very useful in selecting players that might otherwise have been ignored based on their statistical performances; I don't know one way or the other. I'm more that happy if people are finding use out of whatever it is I do, but I've never had the desire to partake in fantasy baseball and put myself in the position of rooting for the likes of Chipper Jones against the Mets because he might make me a dollar.

I'm not decrying those who play and are good at it. Like a lot of things, I just don't get it. My obtuse brain can't comprehend the dichotomy between hating the player for you team's bitterest rival while hoping for him to do well to benefit your fantasy team; of the half-measure of dual benefits regardless of outcome.

As skewered as some see my rationale for good and bad, right and wrong can be to some, it's right there for all to see; and my fantasies have absolutely nothing to do with sports anyway.

Don't ask.

  • The Killing Joke:
It was nearly frightening The Stone Cold Killer, Cliff Lee (soon to be auctioned by the Mariners to the highest bidder) dissected the Cincinnati Reds last night. With an efficiency and ruthlessneess befitting Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Lee made quick and simple work of a Reds team that's leading the National League in runs scored.

In a complete game, 1-0 shutout, Lee walked no one; struck out 7; threw 110 pitches and 79 strikes. He was purely dominant from start-to-finish and was so effortless and cool that he could've kept on pitching for another 5 innings and not given up a run.

Contrast that with Johnny Cueto, who threw 115 pitches in 5.2 innings and, as is his wont, didn't seem to have the faintest clue where the ball was going from one pitch to the next. I'm not talking wildness in walks per se (he only walked 2), but a lack of command----command that was made to appear like a shrug of the shoulders from the pitcher on the other side.

Presumably, the Reds are going to be one of the teams looking to rent Lee for the stretch run; and if afterward, Lee echoed John Lennon and said: "I hope (I) passed the audition," the odds are pretty good that he did.

  • Strasburg or no Strasburg, the Nats lack the personnel to contend:

Stephen Strasburg is a phenomenon. There's no question about that, but it can't be lost on anyone paying attention to the Washington Nationals on days that Strasburg isn't pitching that they haven't gotten the expected ancillary boost from the Strasburg-mania that we've seen from teams with other phenoms like Kerry Wood and Dwight Gooden.

I had thought that the exhilaration provided by Strasburg would create a blowback effect on the rest of the team and possibly keep the Nationals hanging around contention. They were surprisingly competitive over the first two months of the season and with the addition of that weapon and all its aspects on and off the field, it wasn't crazy to think the Nationals would pull a similar trick to the 1991 Braves and make a run.

Instead, they've stumbled horribly and fallen comfortably into last place in the NL East.

Getting past the Strasburg afterglow and examining the Nationals roster, you see the reality that they don't have the personnel to contend. Their bullpen has been overused; their starting rotation is short; and the fact that they don't have a defensively sound backup outfielder cost them a game against the Astros when Cristian Guzman----learning to be a jack-of-all-trades----fumbled a fly ball that would've ended the game and watched helplessly as the Astros came back and won.

The offense is streaky and shaky; and they lack top-to-bottom depth. Despite all the eyebrow raises at the solid start and the explosive debut of Strasburg, a team can't hide their flaws forever; and the Nationals flaws are too vast for them to cover them with one bolt of lightning named Stephen Strasburg.

  • Viewer Mail 6.19.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Bobby Valentine:

I know you're determined to find Valentine a job, so make sure you get a commission once he gets hired somewhere.

The baseball world is more interesting with Bobby Valentine managing. We need personalities like him and stuff to write about. I dunno about a commission----money, meh----but I do like collecting friends and favors. That would benefit me more than money.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE me, Bobby Valentine and the Marlins:

Viewer Mail as/of June 14th

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE the Orioles:

Please Orioles...sign Valentine! Because a Marlins team with Valentine managing it in the same division with the Mets really really scares the hell out of me.

I'm gradually losing my belief that the "all-powerful manager" has that much of an impact on a team that we have to be scared of the mere possibility that he might be hired by a division rival.

If he was replacing someone who's openly costing his team games as Bud Black occasionally does; as Trey Hillman did; as A.J. Hinch has, okay; but would the Marlins be that much better under Valentine than they've been in recent years overachieving the sum of their parts for Fredi Gonzalez? I don't see how.


Did that much change in 4 days?

You're comparing two different concepts. One, what I perceive to be the capabilities of a manager having a drastic effect on a team's wins and losses; and two, what a team is going to do.

Would Valentine have had the infield in during that loss to the Mets rather than playing for the double play and hoping to score against Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning? Without question.

Would it have worked? Maybe, maybe not.

I've watched the Marlins under Fredi Gonzalez relatively closely because I like the way they do business and they're fun to watch; but I haven't scrutinized every strategic decision he makes to the point of being able to determine how many games Valentine would alter because of his presence. I have a hard time believing the Marlins would've won one more game than the 87 from last year with Valentine instead of Gonzalez.

Valentine could be worth a few games because of his strategic skills; but he also could cost his team a game or two because of him simply being Bobby Valentine.

Unable to say, "What would Bobby V do?" vs Gonzalez or anyone else, you can't quantify one decision affecting the game either way. It's like when broadcasters say, "well, if Player A hadn't gotten picked off, the hitter's subsequent double would've gotten his team a run"; they ignore the fact that the entire sequence of pitches and plays would've been different; that it's inaccurate to think that everything would've played out identically form one pitch or play to the next had it ended differently.

The Marlins having flirted openly with Valentine exhibits how ambivalent they are to Gonzalez even as the team was playing well last season. Because Valentine might not be that much of a practical upgrade in the won-lost column, that doesn't mean the Marlins won't make the move anyway.

What they do and whether or not it would help aren't connected.

My podcast appearance from last Saturday with Jeff and his crew at Red State Blue State is up and now, so is Thursday's appearance with Sal at SportsFan Buzz. Click on the site link or click here.

Listen while you're exercising; cleaning; driving; or....doing whatever. My voice influences different people in different ways.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.

My motivations are my own.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

There is a way to balance one's allegiances with fantasy sports, but I certainly understand your point. Just like I don't get world of warcraft, I do realize others find it a fun thing to do. It's an alternate reality... one that is extremely boring to outsiders, which is why I tend to keep my "fantasy" to myself. *rim shot*