74 Reasons I Love Baseball

Franco KC

Without trying to sound snobbish or elitist, I always find myself feeling sorry for those who don’t love baseball. Clearly, much of what we love is guided by family and background, but baseball is so ingrained in the fabric of America, it is always surprising to meet people who find the game boring or slow. They obviously have never had the opportunity to learn the nuances of the game and can’t  treasure the small moments. For example, even though it includes eight (or more) other players, the battle between pitcher and batter just might be the most direct confrontation in all of team sports…and it happens a couple of hundred times in every game!

 

A few years back, I wrote an Internet column with 70 reasons why I love baseball. It was tied somewhat to my 70th birthday, so now that a few more years have passed, we’ll add some additional entries and put them at the beginning of the list.

 

So, as an homage to the game, here are some of my personal reasons why it has meant so much to me over the years.

 

71) Doing what we’re doing today (talking baseball with real fans) never gets old. We can reminisce about our childhood, debate the Hall of Fame, argue about the DH and laugh all the way through. In the movie “City Slickers”, Billy Crystal and the guys are sitting around the campfire when the one girl in the group says, “No, I like baseball. I just never understood how you guys can spend so much time discussing it. I mean I think the game is great but I don’t memorize who played 3B for Pittsburgh in 1960”.  At that point, all the guys simultaneously yelled “Don Hoak”.

 

72) If you watch the game long enough, you learn not to awaken the vengeance of the “Baseball Gods”. This was brought home recently during Spring Training when two nice guys who are Phillies fans ended up sitting behind us at a Spring Training game in Surprise. When the Royals new 3B Maikel Franco walked to the on-deck circle, the guys started an extended rant about how lousy he was and how glad there were to have him out of Philadelphia. I kidded with them about the possible outcome of their remarks and we all laughed. Then Franco got into the batter’s box and hit the first pitch 400 feet onto the lawn beyond the left-field wall for a home run. The laughter from everyone within earshot of the conversation is something we’ll all remember for years. And, they promised to visit again next year.

 

73) As a life-long Red Sox fan, their emergence from the “Curse of the Bambino” with World Series championships in 2004, 2007 & 2013 has done my heart good. My fondest memory, however, will always be their 2018 title. Not so much their victory in Game 5 against the Dodgers but the fact that my Son ( a life-long Dodger fan) took me to the game in Los Angeles. Sitting with him, and taking all that in, was a grand moment in my life.

 

74) Speaking of grand moments, my four Grandsons (ages 10, 9, 5 & 2) made their first visit to Arizona this year and we took in two Spring Training games together. And, of course, the 5 year-old ended up with a game ball.

 

1) I can still remember going to the park on Sunday morning to (with apologies to Kevin Costner) “play catch” with my Dad.

 

2) Even though I’ve never been to the Louvre, it’s difficult to imagine any piece of art more beautiful than Ted Williams’ swing.

 

3) Booing the Yankees is something you can do at any age.

 

4) My brain still has a clear snapshot of that grand-slam home run I hit in Little League…to the opposite field!

 

5) Before the days of MLB Network, ESPN and instant replay, Jimmy Piersall was making spectacular catches in the outfield every night…and he didn’t have to make an unnecessary dive to get himself on a highlight reel.

 

6) Even as a kid, I realized that Mickey Mantle’s skills were different than those of other players.

 

7) 60+ years ago, I watched on TV as Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the World Series…it hasn’t happened again since.

 

8) Instead of doing homework, I was reading every available baseball book or magazine to learn the history of the game…Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb and so many others comprised my history lessons.

 

9) It was a privilege listening to Vin Scully for over 60 years.

 

10) The aroma of the bubble gum in a nickel pack of Topps baseball cards should be bottled as a women’s perfume…men could never resist.

 

11) Talking baseball with the fan next to you in the stands has nothing to do with race, religion, politics, age or sexual identity.

 

12) How can you not love names like Monbouquette, Throneberry, Pagliaroni, Berberet, Pumpsie & Pinky?

 

13) You’ll always be that 9 year-old boy who cried when Harry Agganis tragically died at age 26.

 

14) There’s no such thing as a bad seat at the ballpark…only better or worse.

 

15) A fan will gladly ruin a $50 pair of pants to catch a $15 baseball…and then give it to a kid!

 

16) Getting your first autograph from a major league player is a moment you’ll never forget.

 

17) In your mind’s eye, you can still see that catch Willie Mays made in the 1954 World Series.

 

18) You know the link between Yogi Berra, Sandy Amoros & Johnny Podres.

 

19) You can almost imagine the trepidation of a right-handed hitter digging in against Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson.

 

20) On a beautiful Summer evening at the old Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, I got to see “Big Klu” in his final season and “Yaz” in his rookie year.

 

21) The Pitcher can’t “take a knee” with two outs in the 9th inning so the clock can run out. In other words, “the game ain’t over ’til it’s over”.

 

22) As you’re scanning through the channels and “Bull Durham” appears, you’ll stop and watch to verify that candlesticks are always a nice wedding gift.

 

23) You realize that Jackie Robinson was so much more than just a ballplayer.

 

24) Occasionally, you actually understood what Casey Stengel was saying.

 

25) Even Red Sox fans get teary-eyed watching Gary Cooper (as Lou Gehrig) making that speech in “Pride of the Yankees”.

 

26) You celebrate Bobby Thomson but also feel empathy for Ralph Branca.

 

27) You’re fairly sure that the subway grate scene in “The Seven Year Itch” was the beginning of the end for Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio.

 

28) The sadness of hearing names like Fred Merkle, Mickey Owen, Bill Buckner & Steve Bartman is still part of the game.

 

29) You still laugh every time Bob Uecker explains that the proper way to catch a knuckleball is to “wait for it to stop rolling and then pick it up”.

 

30) You know that Mordecai Brown only had three fingers, while Antonio Alfonseca had six.

 

31) You consider Fenway Park & Wrigley Field to be national shrines.

 

32) You are aware of the fact that Joe Jackson was shoeless and Jay Dean was dizzy.

 

33) It is no secret to you that Lou Boudreau invented defensive shifting over 70 years ago.

 

34) You know who “Scooter” was and that he said “Holy Cow” when Roger Maris hit home run #61.

 

35) The class and style of Sandy Koufax has never been duplicated.

 

36) The nickname “Charlie Hustle” was perfect for Pete Rose.

 

37) Hearing the crowd encouraging Maury Wills to steal 2B was like feeling electricity in the ballpark.

 

38) Meeting a Hall of Fame player is exciting, but when you reach the front of an autograph line and Warren Spahn looks at you and says, “Would you mind if I went to take a leak”, it’s a priceless baseball moment.

 

39) Going to a collectibles convention and finding out that Ernie Banks is the nicest athlete you’ve ever met, confirms your faith in mankind.

 

40) Eddie Gaedel wore the uniform number 1/8.

 

41) You got to attend a game at Camden Yards when Cal Ripken Jr. hit a home run.

 

42) Harmon Killebrew was a “bonus baby” and you know what that means.

 

43) You clearly understand the stupidity of any baserunner who tried to go from 1B to 3B when Roberto Clemente was playing RF.

 

44) Satchel Paige pitched three scoreless innings for the A’s in his final appearance at the age of 59.

 

45) Carlton Fisk’s home run in the 1975 World Series is a landmark in the televising of baseball and changed our expectation of what we should see when watching a game.

 

46) Bucky Dent has a middle name and it starts with the letter “F”.

 

47) Mark “The Bird” Fidrych had the cleanest pitching rubber in the history of the game.

 

48) Rich was a “Goose”, Ron was a “Penguin”, Jim was a “Catfish”, Bill was a “Mad Dog” and Orel was a “Bulldog”.

 

49) The unique experience called “Fernandomania” was impossible to explain to anyone who wasn’t there at the time.

 

50) You remember where you were when Kirk Gibson hit that home run off Dennis Eckersley.

 

51) You went to the ballpark knowing that George Brett had 2,996 hits and then he went 4-for-4.

 

52) Sitting behind home plate in March watching the veterans shape up and the youngsters trying to impress, makes an adult feel like a kid again.

 

53) If you build it, they will come.

 

54) No matter how good the reviews, you will never go see the Broadway show “No, No Nanette”.

 

55) Only one major league player (Fernando Tatis) has ever hit two grand-slam home runs in the same inning and he did it against a pitcher (Chan Ho Park) who was on your Fantasy team.

 

56) You always loved hearing Harry Carey trying to pronounce “Grudzielanek”.

 

57) You secretly hoped that Bo Jackson would strike out at least once just so he could break the bat across his leg.

 

58) “The Bender”, “The Hook”, “Uncle Charlie”, “The Yellow Hammer”, “The Yakker” & “The Deuce” all mean the same thing….baseball has a language of its own.

 

59) A Hall of Fame player can be 5′ 8″ or 6′ 5″.

 

60) Wearing the same protective cup for your entire career is an accepted practice…so is wearing mismatched socks, eating chicken before every game, covering your batting helmet with pine tar, jumping over the foul-line and breaking a slump by dating ugly women.

 

61) You can be “Old School” and still belong to SABR.

 

62) Each day you go to the ballpark, there’s a chance to witness sports history.

 

63) We live and die with our team every day…and tomorrow is a new day with another chance. “We won a game yesterday. If we win one today, that’ll be two in a row. Then, when we win tomorrow, it’ll be a winning streak”. Isn’t that what life is all about?

 

64) James Earl Jones’ character in “Field of Dreams” told us that “the one constant through the years has been baseball” and he was correct. When you meet someone born in the 60’s and he or she knows why the numbers 56 & .406 relate to 1941, you begin to understand the impact of the game’s history.

 

65) A game where the score is 1-0 can be as exciting as a game where the score is 10-9.

 

66) Baseball for real fans in about anticipation…how about a 3-2 pitch with two outs and the bases loaded? Or a runner on first trying to steal 2B in a tie game? Or an outfielder gliding back toward the fence for a long drive off the bat?

 

67)  As Humphrey Bogart once said, “A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz”.

 

68) The game is all about family…just look around the ballpark.

 

69) Looking through a set of baseball cards from the 1950’s gives you a wonderful history lesson that tells you the identities of Dusty, Duke, Red, Minnie, Puddin’ Head, Spook, Smoky, Suitcase, Pee Wee, Junior & Rube.

 

70) When I got divorced, I really missed my Springer Spaniels…but I still had baseball.

 

Everyone reading this probably has dozens more of their own…thanks for sticking with me until the end.

 

 

Charming The Snake Once A Year

Donald Duck Snake

If you’re even an occasional reader of this space, you know that the Old Duck is a 35+ year veteran of Rotisserie Style (Fantasy Baseball) Auction Keeper Leagues. With over 30 championships in about 80 Drafts, it is what I relish and look forward to each year. However, once a year, the dreaded Snake Draft enters my life for one very good reason. The young man who hosts the league (on ESPN.com) is like a son to me and if he asked me to join a Camel Racing Fantasy League hosted by Al Jazeera, I’d probably say yes.

 

Even though I know a beautiful girl who once had a pet Boa Constrictor named “Julius Squeezer”, I hate snakes…both in person and of the Fantasy variety. To me, having 10 or 15 or 20 players go off the board without the opportunity to bid, just penalizes me for doing solid research. And, if one of the Roto combatants forgets to show up on-line, you can bet the “auto-draft” spot will be right in front of me.

 

This time of year, if you follow Fantasy Baseball at all, it is impossible to avoid Snake Draft advice. It comes at you from everywhere…newspapers, websites, magazines, Satellite Radio and friends. The number of strategies are mind-boggling and include…

 

> Memorizing the average draft position (ADP) of every player in the universe.

 

> The “Don’t Take Pitchers early” philosophy.

 

> The “Take Gerrit Cole now” philosophy.

 

> The “Don’t Take Closers Until Later” philosophy.

 

> Prioritizing position scarcity

 

> Getting 50 HR’s & 50 SB’s from your first two picks (50/50 Plan).

 

> Getting 75 HR’s & 75 SB’s from your first three picks (75/75 Plan).

 

> Picking two stud starting pitchers early, also known as the “Dual Aces” plan.

 

> Drafting players for their future instead of their past, also known as the “Upside” plan.

 

> And this year’s favorite, “Get One Of The Big Four”…meaning Yelich, Trout, Bellinger or Acuna.

 

In order to avoid having my brain explode, I’ve used none of those strategies and still managed a championship, two 2nd place finishes and one 3rd place finish in the nine year history of the league. In 2019, the Long Island Ducks finished a disappointing 7th with 91 points, as injuries to Trea Turner, Brandon Nimmo, Gary Sanchez & Brandon Woodruff had the team treading water all season.

 

Part of my occasional past success is from a fairly good knowledge of the player pool, as I’m boning up for NL & AL only Drafts that take place in late March and early April. Logically, however, it seems that the overall approach of the last 30 years still works and it is a mind-set of “balance”. So, while the Ducks do have a tendency to wait on pitching, it is more about balancing the roster to leave flexibility as the Draft progresses. I also pay little or no attention to ADP (Average Draft Position) because I’m more concerned about my opinion of players than that of the “crowd”. This will be quite obvious when you see how many of my choices seem to be a “reach” compared to ADP.  Ideally, after ten rounds, the roster should include at least one player at each position (C, 1B, 3B, 2B, SS, OF, SP & Closer) along with a 2nd OF & 2nd SP. After that foundation is established, looking for value is the priority. If you’ve already read columns from multiple sources about the players they drafted, this might be a cure for insomnia. With that disclaimer, my hope is that the strategies and player choices will be of value to you in your upcoming draft.

 

 

This is a 15-team mixed league with 22-man rosters (1 Catcher) and three reserve picks. Most pundits have been saying that if you can’t get one the top four picks, maybe a spot near the end of the 1st round would be more advantageous, as there were 15-20 players worth at least $30 in this format and you would be guaranteed to roster two of them. Naturally, the random order one hour prior to the Draft gave the Ducks the 12th pick. As we work our way through the results, you’ll see both the ADP and the Roto$ projection for each player as a point of reference. The ADP and dollar projections rankings are as of the date of the Draft (3/15).

 

Fantasy players are always interested in the first round, so here’s how this league shook out…1) Ronald Acuna…2) Mike Trout…3) Christian Yelich…4) Mookie Betts…5) Cody Bellinger…6) Gerrit Cole…7) Juan Soto…8) Francisco Lindor…9) Trea Turner…10) Jacob deGrom…11) Nolan Arenado…12) Trevor Story…13) Alex Bregman…14) Freddie Freeman…15) Bryce Harper

 

Here’s the Ducks’ roster for 2020…

 

* Round 1, Pick 12 – Trevor Story, SS (ADP 10, $28)

 

Was hoping that Turner or Lindor would drop slightly, but this power/speed MI is a nice pick.

 

* Round 2, Pick 19 – Walker Buehler, P (ADP 16, $27)

 

In addition to Cole & deGrom in Round 1, Scherzer & Verlander (right in front of me) were gone in Round 2. Couldn’t wait on an elite SP.

 

* Round 3, Pick 42 – Yordan Alvarez, DH (ADP 39, $19)

 

Had to focus on power in this spot and he’s a bopper in a great line-up.

 

* Round 4, Pick 49 – Whit Merrifield, OF/2B (ADP 52, $25)

 

Good speed and multi-position eligibility.

 

* Round 5, Pick 72 – Jose Abreu, 1B (ADP 74, $23)

 

There’s something to be said for consistency and the Pale Hose line-up looks awesome.

 

* Round 6, Pick 79 – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B (ADP 55, $18)

 

Seems like a good buy in this spot…mucho upside.

 

* Round 7, Pick 102 – Brandon Woodruff , P (ADP 85, $18)

 

His injury last season was not arm-related…could be a #1 SP.

 

* Round 8, Pick 109 – Willson Contreras, C (ADP 114, $11)

 

The 2nd best Catcher in this format.

 

* Round 9, Pick 132 – Hector Neris, P (ADP 138, $12)

 

There was a run on Closers in this round and I had Iglesias queued up, but he went just ahead of my spot.

 

* Round 10, Pick 139 – Brian Anderson, 3B/OF (ADP 224, $10)

 

Seems like a significant reach, but the OF pool was getting thin.

 

At this point, the original strategy was almost in place…the Ducks had a 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, C, OF, DH, 2 SP & 1 Closer.

 

* Round 11, Pick 162 – Evan White, 1B (ADP 333, $13)

 

Even a bigger reach here, but the Mariners have invested in his future and he should be in the line-up from day one.

 

* Round 12, Pick 169 – Wil Myers, OF (ADP 277, $8)

 

Another reach for good measure, but he’s still only 29 with 20/20 potential.

 

* Round 13, Pick 192 – Giovanny Gallegos, P (ADP 204, $12)

 

Has the stuff to be the Redbirds Closer.

 

* Round 14, Pick 199 – David Peralta, OF (ADP 246, $6)

 

Healthy this Spring, he’s an underappreciated player.

 

* Round 15, Pick 222 – Joe Musgrove (ADP 207, $6)

 

Health is the question, but I like his stuff.

 

* Round 16, Pick 229 – Brandon Nimmo, OF (ADP 325, $1)

 

Leading off in front of good hitters, Runs & SB’s could be his ticket to value.

 

* Round 17, Pick 252 – Mitch Keller, P  (ADP 226, $4)

 

Still a top-rated prospect.

 

* Round 18, Pick 259 – Nico Goodrum, 2B/SS/OF (ADP 279, $8)

 

Double-digit HR’s & SB’s in this spot with multi-positional flexibility.

 

* Round 19, Pick 282 – Steven Matz, P  (ADP 287, $3)

 

In the rotation of a good offensive team.

 

* Round 20, Pick 289 – Freddy Peralta, P (ADP 365, $1)

 

The Brewers gave him a nice extension, so he’s in their plans.

 

* Round 21, Pick 312 – Domingo Santana, OF (ADP 303, $8)

 

Don’t see anyone on the Tribe bench stealing his playing time.

 

* Round 22, Pick 319 – Zach Eflin, P (ADP 400, $0)

 

Hoping for 5 innings and lots of run support.

 

* Round 23, Pick 342 – Jo Adell, OF (ADP 215, $2)

 

Not sure how he dropped to me here…who’s blocking him in Anaheim?

 

* Round 24, Pick 349 – Carter Kieboom (ADP 288, $0)

 

A top-twenty prospect and the 3B job is his to lose.

 

* Round 25, Pick 372 – Nate Eovaldi, P (ADP 342, $0)

Still has great stuff but durability is a question…with that contract, the BoSox will give him opportunities.

 

The ESPN site prognosticators think the Ducks are a last-pace team, so there’s nowhere to go but up once we get to play baseball. Best of luck in your Draft.

The Usual Rotisserie Suspects

 

fantasyillo-ricig

With the original “Rotisserie League Baseball” book having been published in 1984, some of us are coming up on our 37th year of auction drafts in the Spring of 2020. Almost everything has changed for the Fantasy player since those days of the analytic pioneers, but one trait has remained constant. My attendance at over 80 of these soirees over the years in multiple leagues indicates that while the people around the table have changed, the personalities haven’t.

 

As with “Dragnet”, the names have been changed to protect the innocent, but you should recognize some of these types from your own league.

 

> “The Hypester” – Not to be confused with a “hipster”, this guy automatically buys into all the hype he reads about minor league prospects, rookies, refugees and players from the Pacific Rim. If you told him confidentially to look for a Korean phenom named Sum Yung Guy, he’d probably bid on him. This guy drafted Candy Maldonado in the 80’s, Kevin Maas in the 90’s and Domonic Brown 8-10 years ago. He also owns a Joe Charboneau baseball card.

 

> “The Limited” – Not to be confused with a train, this player is literally stuck at the station. He’s created some guidelines for the bidding process and doesn’t have the courage to go beyond his set values. Invariably, he’s the next-to-last bidder on numerous players and ends up leaving money on the table. In poker, this guy is defined as “tight passive” and can be bluffed out of the hand.

 

> “The Smart Ass” – This smirking fellow has figured out that the game is supposed to be entertainment and his goal is to bring out a player obscure enough to be unknown to half the league…and the other half doesn’t even want to bid. It doesn’t matter because he relishes the moment when people are scrambling through their paperwork to locate the bum. We once had an opposing player turn to his partner and say, “Keep bidding until I find the guy”. The Smart Ass is willing to have a nobody on his roster in order to bask in the glory of that remark.

 

> “We Are Family” – This team owner “becomes as one” with the players he drafts. As soon as a player is rostered on his squad, he no longer refers to them by their last name. During the season, he talks about “Von”, “Glenn” & “Rick” as if they’re all foster children who have been taken into his home. Their injuries impact him on an emotional level and approaching him about a trade is a waste of time.

 

> “The Pencil Breaker” – This is the well-organized, methodical man who has worked diligently on his plan. The issue at the table is that everyone’s strategy is usually blown-up in the first half-hour and the words “flexible” and “spontaneous” aren’t in his vocabulary. So, he allocated $18 for any one of three Shortstops and after they all go to other teams for over $20, he can be seen breaking pencils in frustration.

 

> “The Paper Pusher” – In the early days of this pastime before magazines & websites gave us player projections, this player was too lazy to do any real homework and would come to the table with a small piece of paper that had three or four names. His goal was to draft those players, no matter the cost. He could always be seen during the last three hours of the proceedings looking through the Baseball Register trying to find warm bodies to fill those eight $1 spots left on his roster. He never contended, but he would always ruin everyone else’s strategy. This is the twin brother of the gambler who hits 17 at the Blackjack table and makes sure the dealer doesn’t bust.

 

> “The Homer” – In a league based in Southern California, you can assume there will be a certain inflation factor for Dodger & Angel players due to the constant barrage of information. This fellow, however, is a fan of a particular team and has never been able to separate himself from that connection. His opponents know that they can always get an extra dollar of his budget spent on that player from the Red Sox or (insert the team of your choice). In addition, his level of interest in that team assures the fact that he’s reading about them in March and he becomes a mini-version of the “Hypester”.

 

> “The Enforcer” – Not to be confused with “Dirty Harry” Callahan, this is the person who feels a moral obligation to make sure no other team gets a bargain. If they sense a lull in the bidding for a decent player, they will jump in with a bid at the last moment even if that player isn’t a good fit on their team. This type of strategy will almost never succeed, but is guaranteed to always aggravate. The first cousin of the guy who plays every hand at the poker game.

 

> “The Math Minor” – Managing your money at the table is a necessity. Budgeting certain amounts for positions and/or categories gives you the best chance to win. This guy, however, essentially has no plan and just bids by the seat-of-his pants. An example would be having only one pitching spot left open and getting into a bidding war over a rotation ace when his team has no offense. This is the team that might spend 50% of their budget on pitching and then wonder why they ended up with so many back-up outfielders.

 

> “The Know-It-All” – This fellow may be a good player, but he is barely tolerated by the other members of the league. They’re not concerned with his success, only with his attitude. He has no patience for anyone who doesn’t know that Mark Canha had only 15 appearances at 1B and, therefore, only qualifies as an OF. When opponents are slow to nominate player’s names late in the day, he shows his frustration, as if he has somewhere important to go. The truth is, he has nowhere to go because he doesn’t have any friends.

 

> “The Vacillator” – If you’ve played in the same league for a succession of years, you certainly understand that thinking you can contend every year is a fool’s game. If your keeper list is weak a season following a championship, then rebuilding might be part of your thought process. This player knows all that, but gets caught up in the exhilaration of the Draft and starts rostering players that don’t fit his strategy. For example, if you’re in a NL or AL only league, maybe he shouldn’t be taking players who will be free agents next year. This also applies to rebuilding teams who find themselves in the first division in May and change course (and make trades) because they’re fooled by stats that represent only 30% of the season. Usually, by the All-Star break, reality has bitten them in the posterior and they no longer have those young building blocks they acquired at the table.

 

We’ll call our league the “Keyser Soze” Invitational and there you have 11 examples of the kind of opponents you might encounter. If you’re the 12th team, there’s a name of you too…”The Winner”.

 

 

Many thanks to Mike Ricigliano for the beautiful artwork.

 

 

 

 

Turn The Page

'73 S&S

One of my favorite rock anthems is Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page” from 1973. It just might be the ultimate road song of the era and never fails to grab your attention even 45+ years later.

 

The title got me to thinking about baseball fans and how they view the game differently than in 1973. Very seldom, do we actually “turn the page” to get our baseball information. For Fantasy players, the transition is even more consequential. When we started this silly game in the mid-80’s, stats were still found in the mid-week editions of USA Today. Today, your Internet stat service site will provide you with “live scoring” while games are still in progress. Dozens of websites tout their expertise and offer projections of every major league player using advanced analytics and algorithms.

 

As a young baseball fan, the most authoritative publication I could find each year was the Street & Smith’s Official Yearbook. It described itself as the “most complete – most informative” baseball publication. Fortunately, the Old Duck has saved many of the editions from the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s, so lets’ see what the writers predicted in the 1973 edition…the one with the A’s Reggie Jackson on the cover. By the way, there were full-page ads for table games Strat-O-Matic, APBA & Major League Baseball…more than a decade before Rotisserie Baseball became mainstream.

 

> Joe Trimble wrote the American League preview and was right on target, as he predicted the A’s to win the West (they won 94 games) and the Orioles to win the East (97 victories). The main topic, however, was the introduction of the Designated Hitter for the first time. Some AL teams had to react quickly if they didn’t have an aging hitter ready to step in the role and one was the Red Sox, who signed 35 year-old Orlando Cepeda. The future Hall of Famer had been released in November, but the DH rule gave him a new lease on life and he hit .289 with 20 HR’s & 86 RBI’s to help the BoSox to a 2nd place finish.

 

> Richard Dozer’s National League preview had the Reds winning the West (which they did with 99 Wins), but the East was another story. The Pirates were picked to win but couldn’t muster even a .500 record (80-82). In fact, the Division winning Mets were only 82-79 and no other team had a winning record. The lead story, however, was the sad recounting of the deaths of Mets Manager Gil Hodges and Pirates legend Roberto Clemente.

 

> Bob Addie wrote an article about Fireman (relief pitchers) and chronicled the career of Hoyt Wilhelm, who retired after the ’72 season. He was 49 years old and had pitched in over 1,000 big league games. Only two hurlers had over 30 Saves in 1972…Clay Carroll of the Reds (37) & Sparky Lyle of the Yankees (35).

 

> A short piece on P. 72 recapped the hitting feat of the Padres Nate Colbert, who had five HR’s & 13 RBI’s in a double-header the previous August.

 

> Other non-byline articles included Nolan Ryan & Steve Carlton both joining the 300-strikeout club and another on “tape-measure” Home Runs.

 

> In the back of the magazine, following all the rosters and previous season’s statistics, there’s an article by Bill Reddy titled “The Minor Leagues, Key to the Majors”. Can you imagine today’s fan waiting until P. 115 to read about prospects? Here are some of his AL picks for 1973…

 

* Orioles, Al Bumbry – Won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by hitting .337 with a league leading 11 Triples.

 

* Red Sox, Dwight Evans – Only hit .223 as a rookie, but never looked back and had an outstanding 20-year career…also won eight Gold Gloves.

 

* Angels, Doug Howard – Led the PCL with 109 RBI’s, but never succeeded at the major league level. Hit .212 in 217 lifetime AB’s.

 

* White Sox, Jorge Orta – Hit .266 in his rookie season and had a 16-year MLB career…made two All-Star teams.

 

* Indians, Charlie Spikes – Hit 45 HR’s in his first two seasons for the Tribe and then faded away.

 

* Tigers, Smokey Robinson – The Bengals 1st pick in the ’68 Draft, he had 28 HR’s and 94 RBI’s in the Southern League but never made it to “The Show”. His given first name was Murray.

 

* Royals, Gene Garber – This RH Pitcher had a cup of coffee with the Pirates but after being traded to KC, he had 9 Wins and 11 saves in his first full season. Pitched in the majors until 1988.

 

* Brewers, Howard Wilbur – Led the American Association in hits, but never made an impact at the big league level. Played parts of six seasons in the 70’s and hit .250. He did steal 32 bases for the Astros in ’75.

 

* Twins, Joe Decker – This RH Pitcher won 10 games in ’73 and then 16 in ’74, but the 248 IP workload that year did him in…only won 3 more games in the majors.

 

* Yankees, Mike Pazik – This LH Pitcher won 10 games at AAA Syracuse in ’72 and then 13 more for the same squad in ’73. Never made it to New York and after being traded to the Twins, had only 1 Win in the big leagues.

 

* Athletics, Bill North – This speedy OF was acquired from the Cubs and swiped 53 bases for the World Champion A’s. Led the AL in stolen bases twice in the 70’s.

 

* Rangers, Jeff Burroughs – This power-hitter burst on the scene with 30 HR’s & 85 RBI’s. The following year, he was the AL MVP.

Moving to the NL prospects…

 

> Braves, Andre Thornton – Never made it with the Braves but was an impact bat for the Indians in the late 70’s & early 80’s and ended up with 253 lifetime HR’s.

 

> Cubs, Pat Bourque – Was the MVP of the AAA American Association in 1972, but only had 405 MLB AB’s with a .215 BA over four seasons.

 

> Reds, Gene Locklear – Led the American Association in hitting with a .325 BA, but was traded to the Padres in June of ’73 and only had 595 AB’s in five seasons.

 

> Astros, J.R. Richard – Became one of the most dominant Pitchers in the game striking out over 300 batters in two different seasons. His career was cut short at age 30 after suffering a stroke during the 1980 season.

 

> Dodgers, Tom Paciorek – MVP of the Pacific Coast League in ’72, but never had a big impact in the Dodger line-up. Did end up playing parts of 18 seasons in the big leagues with a lifetime BA of .282.

 

> Expos, Pepe Mangual – Led the AAA International League with 91 Runs & 39 SB’s. Had one very productive campaign with Montreal in 1975 when he scored 84 Runs and swiped 33 bags, but by 1977 he was out of the game.

 

> Mets, Dave Schneck – Hit 24 HR’s in the minors in ’72, but never found a groove in the big leagues. Hit .199 in 413 lifetime AB’s.

 

> Phillies, Bob Boone – Stepped in as the regular Catcher in ’73 and had a 19-year major league career with seven Gold Gloves to his credit.

 

> Pirates, Richie Zisk – Hit .324 in his rookie season and went on to play 13 years with over 200 HR’s and two All-Star appearances.

 

> Cardinals, Ray Busse – The Redbirds thought they had their SS of the future after acquiring him in November of ’72, but it never happened. Had 155 lifetime AB’s with a .146 BA.

 

> Padres, Randy Elliott – Another top prospect who never fulfilled the promise, he hit only .215 in parts of four seasons.

 

> Giants, John D’Acquisto – Spent one more season in the minors and then was the NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year in ’74. To close the circle on this reflection, John & I have become friends over the last few years and he works for MLB in Arizona on the pace-of-play project. Yes, it is a small world.

 

Hope you enjoyed this trip to 1973…we’ll utilize the time machine again in the near future.

You Just Might Be A Fantasy Baseball Player

 

Hedley

As Hedley Lamarr (or maybe Chase Headley) once said, “My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.” So, with Spring Training upon us, and with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy –

 

> If the sign in the supermarket said “Rotisserie Chicken” and it caused you to not spend that extra dollar on groceries, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your Pitchers have allowed so many home runs that you’ve installed a humidor in your house, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Freddie Freeman was shifted more than any other player in 2019, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your elbow was fine but you decided to have Tommy John Surgery just to see how long the rehab takes, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If life is confusing because your pill box starts with Sunday but line-up changes are due on Monday, you just might be a Senior Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that “Aqualung” is just an album by the wrong Ian Anderson, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve declined an invitation to attend a football game with Rich Hill, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Gerrit Cole should send Stephen Strasburg a case of champagne, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your neighbor brags about his 4×4 and you reply by saying you prefer 5×5, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re smart enough to stay away from Reese McGuire’s SUV, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you went to the unemployment office in early February and ending up standing in line behind Yasiel Puig, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Manny Machado has a lifetime OPS of under .800 away from Camden Yards, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know what Shohei Ohtani, Brendan McKay & Michael Lorenzen have in common, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Gretal loves Gingerbread and Hansel loves Saves, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re acquainted with “Lenny The Legend”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Giancarlo Stanton used to be Mike Stanton but there’s also a Mike Stanton with 31 lifetime Saves, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ian Kinsler retired one hit shy of 2,000, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you lost 20 pounds during the off-season but it didn’t help your performance, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> In a related story, if you hired the personal trainer of Francis Martes, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Austin D. Adams and Austin L. Adams, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you watched a AAA prospect go back to the wall to catch a fly ball and you immediately thought “Drew Waters Runs Deep”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you were invited to run with the bulls in Pamploma but instead decided to run with the wild boars in Florida, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ahchoo was a man in tights and Shin-Soo Choo is a man in stirrups, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you Ynoa player named Michael and Ynoa player named Gabriel, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Pete Alonso hit 27 HR’s at home and 26 HR’s on the road, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Will Smith the Pitcher, Will Smith the Catcher and Will Smith the Actor, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you feel that when Joey Bart gets called up by the Giants it would be appropriate for him to travel to the ballpark on BART, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that the Royals have an OF who has a first name of “Brett” and a middle name of “Maverick”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Edwin Encarnacion has hit 30+ HR’s for the last eight seasons, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are secure in the fact that Brusdar Graterol is not a sports drink, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you discovered Buck & Kyle are the same age by browsing at farmersonly.com., you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re walking through the woods when someone yells “Snake” and you yell back “I prefer Auction”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that the Red Sox have a prospect named Noah Song and the Royals have one named Brady Singer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the Dodgers skip a spot in the rotation and you think it should be called “Walker Buehler’s Day Off”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that one Lourdes goes on tour with Madonna while another Lourdes patrols the OF at SkyDome, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you told your fiancé that you’re willing to marry her but that you want an opt-out after two years, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that smirk on the face of Scott Boros is creepy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your religious commitment is limited to drafting Jesus Aguiler, Noah Syndergaard, Adam Eaton, John Moses, Christian Arroyo & Travis Baptist, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone refers to a girl as a “Keeper” and you ask if she qualifies at more than one position, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know what Mitch Haniger and Josias Manzanillo have in common in addition to wearing a Mariners jersey, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re not sure about Skye Bolt being a comic-book hero, but you are sure he’s a switch-hitter, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever been to a Rodeo with Mason Saunders, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve cheered for Brandon Lowe, Nate Lowe, Mark Lowe or Derek Lowe, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the team names “Okrent Fenokees”, “Sklar Gazers”, “Cary Nations” & “Pollet Burros” are familiar to you, you just might be a long-time Fantasy player.

 

> If you confessed at your AA meeting that you drafted Seth Beer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think the best thing about the Super Bowl is that it’s the last Football game of the season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you attended Cody Allen’s showcase day in December, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Homer Bailey has the worst first name for a Pitcher, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve been scouting Jazz Chisholm and found out that he listens to Coltrane, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the whereabouts of Kyle Seager, Kyle Elfrink, Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Gibson, Kyle Freeland and Kyle Schwarber, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever laughed at one of  Tim McLeod’s puns, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you watch a movie that stars Ben Kingsley and you’re motivated to check Trace Wood’s Long Gandhi website, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think the Mayo Clinic is where Jonathan spends the off-season looking at minor-league video, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the whereabouts of Maikel Franco, Wander Franco, Julio Franco, John Franco and Generalissimo Francisco Franco, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think “Black Magic Woman” is only a song by the wrong Carlos Santana, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that nine players named Anderson pitched in the majors last season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your podiatrist diagnoses you with a callous and it causes you to wonder if Jim has finished the top 100 prospect list yet, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Joey Votto has the highest lifetime OBP of any active player (#17 all-time), you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve signed a petition to have Bill James’ countenance added to Mt. Rushmore, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your DVR doesn’t play movies but does give statistical projections, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the term “Pleskoff Prospect” is meaningful to you, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are clear on the fact that Chaz Roe is not Sushi, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you see graffiti that says “Jesus Is The Answer” and you wonder if the question is, “Who Is Matty & Felipe’s Brother?”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Schoop is pronounced “Scope”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ozzie Albies had more hits in 2019 than Ozzie Smith had in any season during his career, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you believe that Willians, Welington, Wilkin, Willson and Yasmani are all Catchers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Tres Barrera has had Dos major league at-bats, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Ranger Suarez should be traded to Texas, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Sean Doolittle’s nickname should be “Doctor”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are secure in the fact that Lord Zola is not a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Brad Hand could be the next Rollie Fingers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you understand that Yadier is the slimmest & fastest Molina, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re more impressed with Nelson Cruz & Raisel Iglesias than you are with Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Pitchers should tell Alex Bregman that the next pitch will be an inside fastball, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you subscribe to Sports Illustrated just to read Joe Sheehan’s articles, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Kevin Quackenbush should pitch for the Long Island Ducks, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If none of your friends would even consider tuning in to “Mad Dog” Russo, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Hunter Dozier, Hunter Renfroe, Hunter Pence, Hunter Cervenka & Hunter Wood, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you drafted Justin Verlander just to keep Kate Upton happy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re aware that Yu Darvish & Chris Sale are the only two Pitchers in history to strike out over 11 batters every nine innings, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that there have been two major league players named Boog Powell, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Starlin, Alcides, Adeiny & Asdrubal are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Clayton Kershaw has a higher winning percentage than Whitey Ford, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that the LOOGY is an endangered species, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If a conversation with Jason Collette would be more interesting than one with Toni Collette, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone you know named their son Aristides and you didn’t find it unusual, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the kids are watching “Kung Fu Panda” and you think the lead character should lose weight, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Bo Bichette is Dante’s son and was named after Bo Jackson, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you believe that the new “Rotoman” Superhero action movie will be in 3-D, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’d rather watch Shane Bieber than Justin Bieber, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you wonder when the Mexican restaurants in Cincinnati might start serving Moose Tacos, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that meeting Billy Beane would be more exciting than meeting Brad Pitt, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your annual literary schedule includes the publications written by Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Jonathan Kellerman and Ron Shandler, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you wish Derek Jeter would become an owner in your league, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you don’t give a rat’s patootie about a $200+ Million player feeling disrespected, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your professor said, “Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer who became the first Governor of Puerto Rico” and you replied, “He also pitched 48 innings for the Cardinals last year”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Mitch Garver was in the top five for RBI % in 2019,  you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your wife isn’t concerned about you visiting Asian websites because she knows you’re scouting baseball prospects, you are obviously a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ke’Bryan Hayes is the son of Charlie Hayes, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you see the movie “Platoon” and immediately start thinking about Dave Roberts, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Jennifer Lopez is dead to you, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you got an 80-game suspension for too many carbohydrates in your system , you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know more quotes from Dylan Bundy than from Al Bundy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the total bill every time you shop at Costco is $260, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the Devo song “Whip It” comes on the radio and you think about walks, hits and innings pitched, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your only link to opera is that you once saw Alfredo Figaro pitch in a major league game, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you miss Steve Moyer & Lawr Michaels, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If running out of 2B options caused you to Panik, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you absolutely hate it when Managers decide to give their Closers some work in non-save situations, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you drive all the way to Las Vegas in March to see Greg Ambrosius, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Brett Gardner needs a restraining order, but that Steve Gardner doesn’t, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Brian Kenny is the smartest guy on MLB Network, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> On a related note, if Harold Reynolds drives you bonkers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Perry is a better Capt. Hook than Christopher Walken or Dustin Hoffman, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ryan Mountcastle is not a character from Downton Abbey, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you understand that Marquez is named German but Max Kepler is German, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are perfectly clear on the fact that “DeSclafani” is not tonight’s special at that upscale Italian restaurant, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If  you know that Evan White is a very wealthy minor-leaguer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you go to a seafood restaurant and wonder if Mike Trout, Tim Salmon, Kevin Bass, Mike Carp, Catfish Hunter and Bobby Sturgeon knew that there was a major league player in the 1930’s named George Gill, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Mookie Betts has bowled a perfect 300 game, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Doug Dennis is funnier than most stand-up comics on HBO, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you got arrested after admitting that you “handcuffed” two Relief Pitchers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Miguel Cabrera has the highest lifetime BA of any active major-leaguer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are secure in the fact that someone is not stuttering when they say “Victor Victor Mesa”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If a politician brings up the topic of inflation and you wonder why he isn’t also concerned with position scarcity, you just might be a keeper-league Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve never forgiven Barbara Hershey for shooting Roy Hobbs, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Brian Feldman has ever been your auctioneer, you just might be an expert-level Fantasy player.

 

> If you just know that Dovydas Neverauskas should be part of the “Who’s On First” routine, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you were confused and tried to roster Bubba Starling Marte, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Joe Montana was a football player but also know that Steve Nebraska was a baseball player, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you suffer a personal injury and call Rick Wilton for a diagnoses, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Tyler Flowers could be related to Ray Flowers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that the term “Elvis Has Left the Building” means the Rangers Shortstop hit a Home Run, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, Kike Hernandez, Jo Adell & Didi Gregorious are not females, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you and your wife exchanged dollar figures but still ended up going to arbitration, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Jeff Erickson is your favorite radio personality, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever sent an e-mail to Brian Walton asking about the #30 prospect in the Cardinals organization, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you no longer allow trash cans at the Draft table ,you just might be a Fantasy Commissioner.

 

> If you think that “Sheriff” would be a good nickname for Jacob Nottingham, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever tried to buy something with “Patton Dollars”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you offered your girlfriend a qualifying offer but she still opted for free agency, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone uses the term “Wise Guy” and you think of Gene McCaffrey instead of Joe Pesci, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your grocery list includes Ketel Corn, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Jeff Winick represented you in salary arbitration, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

>If despite the lack of a medical degree you can easily diagnose a strained oblique and plantar fasciitis, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> And, finally, if Draft Day is your favorite day of the year, you have become a true Fantasy player.

 

The Rotisserie Baseball Time Machine

Gwynn '84 Donruss

If you didn’t play Fantasy Baseball before the Internet, the historical concept of 1980’s Rotisserie Baseball might be slightly hazy. For the Old Duck, it is an era filled with the best memories one could imagine

 

In March of 1981, I read an article in Inside Sports magazine titled “The Year George Foster Wasn’t Worth $36”. It was written by Dan Okrent and was one of the first references to “Rotisserie” (Fantasy) Baseball. By 1984, the originators of the game (including Okrent and Glen Waggoner) published the first edition of “Rotisserie League Baseball”. Upon seeing the book, the ’81 article came to mind and I couldn’t wait to consume the details of this fascinating hobby. After reading the entire book in one sitting, I got on the phone and called numerous baseball-loving friends with the following challenge – “Go buy this book and tell me if you’re in”. Within 48 hours, the “Bowling League of Rotisserie Baseball” was born. Why bowling? Well, almost everyone in the group (including me) worked in the bowling industry…owners, executives, managers, sales reps and the like. We used a coin flip to decide which league we’d utilize and the NL won out.

 

So there we sat in the Spring of ’84, ten guys who were baseball fans but didn’t have a clue about this new game other than the minimal strategies talked about in the book. No Internet, no Fantasy magazines, no Sabrmetrics and no Rotisserie Gurus. Our main resource was the Sporting News and its Baseball Register publication. I chose Donald’s Ducks for my team name and we went boldly where no fan had gone before.

 

As we prepare for the 37th annual auction Draft on March 28th (I’m still the Commissioner), it might be fun to look back at that 1984 Draft and critique my team. Yes, our squads were comprised of 14 offensive players and 9 pitchers with a budget of $260. Here are the members of the Ducks in the order they were chosen…

 

#1 – Lonnie Smith, OF, $28 – In 1983, he provided an outstanding season with a .321 BA and 43 SB’s and even though he dropped to .250 in ’84, his 50 SB’s helped the team finish 2nd in that category.

 

#2 – Dale Berra, SS, $17 – The first of many bad decisions, he hit .222 with 9 HR’s.

 

#3 – Gary Carter, C, $40 – We all seemed to figure out the scarcity of this position and paid through the nose for backstops. Carter had 106 RBI’s and won the Silver Slugger award. Other notable Catchers on Draft day included Jody Davis ($37), Terry Kennedy ($33) & Tony Pena ($32).

 

#4 – Leon Durham, 1B, $16 – 23 HR’s, 96 RBI’s & 16 SB’s…not bad.

 

#5 – Ken Oberkfell, 2B, $11 – Traded by the Cardinals to the Braves, he played just 100 games and hit only 1 HR.

 

#6 – Mike Madden, P, $7 – Started 7 games for the Astros with a 5.53 ERA.

 

#7 – Steve Carlton, P, $13 – The Hall-of-Famer was past his prime at age 39, but posted 13 Wins with a 3.58 ERA…and pitched 229 innings.

 

#8 – Mike Marshall, 1B, $15 – We were based in Southern California, so this was somewhat of a “home town” Dodger pick. He did hit 21 HR’s and made the All-Star team. He also dated Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go’s, but there wasn’t a stat category for that.

 

#9 – Tim Wallach, 3B, $12 – Became the Expos All-Star representative with a productive season that included 18 HR’s & 72 RBI’s.

 

#10 – David Green, OF, $15 – Seemed like a good sleeper pick, as he swiped 34 bases in ’83 as a 22 year-old. Dipped to 17 SB’s in ’84 and was out of the majors by 1986.

 

#11 – Dave Concepcion, SS, $5 – Didn’t have much left at age 36….245 BA with 4 HR’s.

 

#12 – Alan Ashby, C, $9 – The back-up Catcher for the Astros, his 4 HR’s & 27 RBI’s didn’t help much.

 

#13 – Doug Frobel, OF, $4 – ’84 was his best season, but that isn’t saying much….203 BA, 12 HR’s & 28 RBI’s for the Pirates.

 

# 14 – Lee Smith, P, $21 – We figured out that Closers were essential in a 4×4 format, he gave the Ducks 9 Wins & 33 Saves.

 

#15 -Jerry Mumphrey, OF, $4 – His best season, as he represented the Astros at the All-Star Game. .290, 9 HR’s, 83 RBI’s & 15 SB’s

 

#16 – Terry Francona, 1B, $3 – The future skipper was on the DL more times than seemed humanly possible…had 214 AB’s for the Expos with a .346 BA.

 

#17 – Tony Gwynn, OF, $5 – Very seldom do you have the good fortune to get a future Hall of Famer in the end-game of the Draft. He played 86 games for the Padres in ’83 and hit .309, but no one expected him to lead the league in ’84 with a .351 BA. Finished 3rd in the MVP voting.

 

#18 – Mike Krukow, P, $7 – The lanky RH won 11 Games for the Giants, but had an ERA of 4.78 and led the NL in hits allowed.

 

#19 – Cecilio Guante, P, $2 – 2 Wins & 2 Saves with a 2.61 ERA, but only pitched 41 innings.

 

#20 – Charles Hudson, P, $3 – Had 9 Wins and a 4.04 ERA in 30 starts for the Phillies.

 

#21 – Bill Scherrer, P, $3 – Traded during the season, he only pitched 71 innings and had 2 Wins.

 

#22 – Lee Tunnell, P, $2 – Was 11-6 in ’83 for the Bucs…went 1-7 with a 5.27 ERA for the Ducks.

 

#23 – Bryn Smith, P, $2 – Maybe the best of this hodge-podge group of end-game hurlers, he started 28 games, won 11 and contributed a 3.32 ERA.

 

In retrospect, it’s easy to see why this wasn’t a championship squad. The most glaring mistake (and one that all Fantasy players have made), was leaving $16 on the table. In other words, the Ducks had the most money toward the end, but no decent players to spend it on. To a large extent, this was due to waiting so long to roster pitching. The last six picks were Pitchers and the good ones were long gone.

 

In addition to the wasted $16, the Ducks did a lousy job of money management. Only 25% of the expenditures went for pitching and that led to finishing last in both ERA & RATIO. Amazingly, the team finished in 3rd place overall, but is was 1987 before the franchise actually captured a championship.

 

For you long-timers, other recognizable names who filtered in and out of the Ducks roster (via trades, waiver claims & FAAB) included John Candelaria, Jeff Reardon, Ed Whitson, Von Hayes, Jerry Royster & Steve Sax.

 

Memories are made of this.

 

The Best Hitters Of 2020

'18 Alvarez Auto

50 years ago, if a baseball fan was asked who the best hitters were, the only significant resource would have been the sports section of the Sunday newspaper. Somewhere in the back pages, there was a long, slender list in very small type showing all current major league players. And those players were ranked by their BA (Batting Average) because that had historically been the benchmark for position players.

 

Looking back at 1970, we find that the top five BA’s belonged to Rico Carty (.366), Alex Johnson (.329), Carl Yastrzemski (.329), Joe Torre (.325) & Manny Sanguillen (.325). Fine players all, but were they the five best hitters in baseball? Not when you consider that the two MVP winners (Johnny Bench and Boog Powell) didn’t even hit .300. Sanguillen, for example, had only 7 HR’s & 61 RBI’s.

 

As modern baseball analytics have evolved, one of the most accepted statistics has become OPS (On-Base % + Slugging %). Not only does it prioritize getting on base, it also adds the concept of moving more runners around the bases. After all, Slugging Percentage is defined as Total Bases /At Bats. Old school fans might question the veracity of the stat but baseball history tells the tale. The five highest lifetime OPS numbers belong to Babe Ruth (1.16), Ted Williams (1.12), Lou Gehrig (1.08), Barry Bonds (1.05) & Jimmie Foxx (1.04). There are only two other hitters with a number over 1.00… Hank Greenberg and Rogers Hornsby. Mike Trout is at #8 with .999.

 

With Spring Training around the corner, here’s one Duck’s opinion on the hitters for 2020 that could be the top ten this season…based on the projections from a highly respected Fantasy website.

 

1) Mike Trout, Angels OF, 1.034 OPS – 20 years from now, people will be describing his career as “once in a generation”. His consistency and still youthful age (28) makes him the consensus #1 hitter in the game. This type of performance would put over the 1.000 mark for his career.

 

2) Christian Yelich, Brewers OF, 1.030 OPS – Also 28, he reached 1.100 in 2019.

 

3) Cody Bellinger, Dodger 1B/OF, .958 OPS – The NL MVP also won a Gold Glove and he’s only 24.

 

4) J.D. Martinez, Red Sox DH, .957 OPS – 2019 was viewed as an off year, but really only in comparison to 2018. His OPS was .939 with 105 RBI’s.

 

5T) Freddie Freeman, Braves 1B, .950 OPS – His consistency causes him to be somewhat underrated. 38 HR’s & 121 RBI’s in 2019 shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

5T) Juan Soto, Nationals OF, .950 OPS – Has 56 HR’s entering his age 21 season!!

 

7) Alex Bregman, Astros 3B, .939 OPS – Bang your trash can if you’re not rooting for him.

 

8) Aaron Judge, Yankees OF, .929 OPS – Even with those troublesome injuries the last two years, his 4-year OPS is .952.

 

9) Yordan Alvarez, Astros DH, .924 OPS – The AL ROY had astonishing numbers for a first-season player including a 1.067 OPS…he’s 22 years old.

 

10) Nelson Cruz, Twins DH, .922 OPS – Amazing production at age 39.

 

Did your favorite player get left off the list? The next five are all over .900…Nolan Arenado, Josh Donaldson, Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper & Anthony Rendon.  Or maybe some youngsters take the next step? We’ll all be watching.

 

As for 1970, the four players who exceeded 1.000 OPS were McCovey, Yastrzemski, Carty & Jim Hickman.