Fantasy Baseball: An Ode to George Carlin

by Todd Zola, on September 5, 2012 @ 14:18:54 PDT


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Carlin adds:

Pittsburgh Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen
Sliding into the first round?

"In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?

In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error."

Every year, there is a faction that preaches to wait on pitching, even if you can get one of the elite performers. But there is always a small group that is more comfortable with an ace. However, due to some changing landscape with MLB being more of a "pitcher's" league, the notion of jumping on an arm early is becoming more viable, if not accepted among those disseminating information. In football, the exact same thing can be said for drafting a quarterback. For years it was taboo to take one early, now it is being recommended. Aaron Rodgers is the football facsimile of Justin Verlander - a rock. If you can get Verlander, Felix Hernandez or Clayton Kershaw early, it is worth it just as it is drafting Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees to anchor your football squad. On the other hand, if you wait, you can always pick up a solid talent late.

More from Carlin:

"In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, blocking, piling on, late hitting, unnecessary roughness and personal fouls.
Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, sleet, snow, hail, mud ...
In baseball, if it rains, we don't come out to play."

In fantasy baseball, there is a small segment of drafters that like to gain an edge anywhere they can and often do so by drafting a catcher early, especially if there are options that are heads and tails above the rest like Joe Mauer and Buster Posey. In football the analogous position is that of the tight end. Most football drafters prefer to wait, but if they have the opportunity to jump on a Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, they will not hesitate to do so.

Carlin opines:

"Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - we might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we have to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're perfectly capable of taking the life of a fellow human being."

Perhaps the most universal advice in fantasy baseball is to wait on closers. Akin in fantasy football is waiting on a kicker and defense. Sure, there will be someone that feels the advantage of taking Craig Kimbrel or Jonathan Papelbon early is worth it, just as there will be someone that always takes the Steelers or Sebastian Janikowski. And to be fair, sometimes they are right. But on the other hand, there will always be a Fernando Rodney or Jim Johnson that surprises, just as the San Francisco defense and special teams unit along with David Akers did last season.

I would like to thank the late George Carlin for providing some entertainment as he concludes:

"And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack which punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! I hope I'll be safe at home!"

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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