Expanding My Baseball Horizons


March 11, 2012; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Florida Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez at the plate during the spring training game against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

March 11, 2012; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Florida Marlins first baseman

I come from the pre-Moneyball era, back when batting average and ERA ruled the earth, and one’s skill at rubbing sticks together determined one’s comfort level across a cold winter.  The days when a duplicate baseball card and a clothespin meant a new noisemaker for the Schwinn. Free agency was still pretty new, and the idea of following an individual player over your hometown team was in its infancy.

As I was forming my lifetime bond with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Walt Alston was at the helm, and the Durable Dodgers were packing the seats in Chavez Ravine. Three time zones away, Bill James was wearing out his first shirt pocket pen protector as he fomented revolution.  My family moved East, I grew up, the Sabremetrics gospel spread like wildfire, and I missed it.

An offshoot (sect?) of Sabremetrics is fantasy sports. For the last few years, I’ve been looking in from the fringes, feeling like the Little Match Girl watching the holiday feast from the frozen streets of Dickens’ London.  Like so many things that I’ve been doing with baseball lately, my 10-year-old son is the instigator.  He and I sat down with a couple of primer texts, and started looking at what it would take to run a team for a season.

We settled on the ESPN system, and decided that for the first year, we’d stick to a simple rotisserie league.  Once we had the basics figured out, we ran a couple of mock drafts for practice.  This weekend was my son’s first out-of-town tournament, and we had a couple of hotel nights free from honey-do’s and homework. Draft time.

In between breathless reports on the progress of “elevator tag” and trips to the pool (close your eyes and picture a hotel full of ‘tween boys on a road trip), we made our picks. For good or for bad, our team has the following roster:

P: Stephen Strasburg

P: Yu Darvish

P: Gio Gonzalez

P: Anibal Sanchez

P: Jaime Garcia

Bullpen: Ryan Dempster

Bullpen: Ricky Nolasco

Bullpen: Kenley Jansen

Closer: Craig Kimbrel

Closer: Ryan Madson

C: Wilson Ramos

1B: Albert Pujols

2B: Rickie Weeks

3B: Adrian Beltre

SS: Elvis Andrus

RF: Giancarlo Stanton

CF: Cameron Maybin

LF: Logan Morrison

Utility: Erick Aybar

Utility: Sean Rodriguez

Utility: Emilio Bonifacio

Bench: Gaby Sanchez

Bench: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Bench: Jason Heyward

Bench: Torii Hunter

Like I said…for good or for bad.  Almost as soon as the draft finished, I read that Madson was out for the season for a Tommy John (I remember watching Tommy pitch).  And if being kidnapped and held for ransom wasn’t bad enough, Ramos is day-to-day with a bum knee.  So are Stanton and Morrison, as we Fish Fans are well aware.

So, right out of the gate, we dropped Madson and picked up Aroldis Chapman out of the undrafted players pool.  We’ll see how it works out.

We weren’t drafting from an array of analyses and spreadsheets.  We used a combination of the USA Today fantasy preview, ESPN’s in-draft rankings, and our own gut and emotion.  We’ll see how the “shoot and holler ‘Boo’” draft method works over 162 games.

I’ll be watching three things this year: first is the attention span of a fifth-grader over a season. Second is the attention span of a 47-year-old over a season. Finally, I’d like to see how we do against the other nine guys in our league.