No question what a goofy game baseball is.
I mean, to start there is that adage about seeing something every year that you never saw before. This, for a game with a 100-plus-page rule book and over 100 years of stats and history, is pretty amazing.
Tabata: part of future
But, it is true. Just the other night, while working the Oakland game, I saw Astros outfielder Brandon Barnes get hit in the shoulder by a lazy A.J. Griffin curveball. Barnes dropped his bat and began trotting to first only to be recalled by home plate ump Greg Gibson, who maintained Barnes made no effort to avoid getting hit.
Which, if you watched the replay, seemed pretty much true, and, though there are instances of that rule being called, like Don Drysdale's famous plunking of the Giants' Dick Dietz in 1968 with the bases loaded. The invocation of that rule by ump Harry Wendelstedt left Dietz in the batter's box for another pitch, and he flew out harmlessly, essentially allowing Drysdale to keep his then scoreless streak alive for the 43rd of what became 58 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings (I remember exactly where I was, and who I was with, when I heard that play transpire on the radio).
However, despite those sporadic anomalies, baseball, and its body of stats and means and history, is not so much predictable as it is stable. In general the good players produce regularly, and the good teams deliver regularly as well, and on a daily basis there is some degree of comfort in that.
Unlike football, and especially fantasy football, where we have all always lived under what I like to call "The curse of Zack Crockett."
Not that Crockett is a bad guy or horrible player, but he was the guy who carried the ball over the goal line after Napoleon Kaufman ran the ball 57 yards to that same entree to the end zone.
Which brings me to my Scoresheet team of this year, "47 Percent."
My team was pretty good coming out of the draft, with Albert Pujols, Alex Gordon, Erick Aybar, Roy Halladay, and ace Clayton Kershaw on my freeze list. However, I picked up Angel Pagan and Alex Cobb, and, well, you can see where this is going; that is, it is hard to win a head-to-head league with the core stars of your team injured.
So, a month ago I started to swap out players, largely for picks for 2014, thinking I probably was not going anywhere in the postseason this year.
The trades I made were not that significant: Jose Tabata and Mark Buehrle were the biggest names involved, but since then Pujols said goodbye for the year so, in a 24-team setup I just assumed the percentages were that the remnants were simply not going to make it to the playoffs, let alone challenge for anything even should that happen.
The week of Aug. 11, when the trades became effective, 47 Percent finished the week 2-4, leaving our record at 58-59, eight games out of wild-card contention.
However, since then, anchored by Jeff Keppinger at first, we are 16-9, good for a .596 winning percentage for the month, with a record of 75-68, five games out of the same wild-card chance.
And, I must admit, over the month Halladay came back, as has Cobb, and now Pagan, but I find it hard to believe that this troika of players made the difference.
But, what is really weird is I remember writing exactly the same article last year, so, now I am trying to figure out whether my team closes out, a la Zack Crockett, or if they are predictable, like the century's worth of statistics?
I surely will have to do some homework between now and next August!
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Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.