On the “Money”
I was wrong! Yeah, that is what you want to read as the lead in a fantasy baseball advice and analysis column on which you have been relying all year (I hope). About what was I wrong? Well, I was asked a few weeks ago whether Moneyball has anything to do with fantasy baseball. My answer was “of course! Billy Beane is living the dream of fantasy players the world over.” It did not take long for me to see my error. Early in the screening of the movie I was privileged to attend earlier this week, Billy Beane (in the person of the incomparable Brad Pitt) said with both conviction and resignation: “It is an unfair game.” Smack! It hit me. It is not that Billy Beane is living out a fantasy leaguer’s dream, it is that fantasy leaguers are living out Billy’s dream. Unlike in the real thing where one team can spend 100+ Million while another is limited to one-third of that (a fact well emphasized both visually and through dialogue), fantasy general managers DO play on an even playing field. Each team is limited to a mythical $260 budget; no one gets a penny more or a penny less. That is Billy Beane/Brad Pitt’s dream -- equality -- a dream Billy/Brad knows is reserved for the millions of fantasy GMs out there.
Ok, I need to backtrack. I was not completely wrong. What a relief! There IS a lot that fantasy leaguers will recognize and with which they will identify while enjoying what is really a terrific film. Oh, and it is not the reliance on computers, newfangled statistics or fist pumping of the geek brotherhood. Then, what do I mean? Well, let’s start with one of Billy/Brad’s favorite sayings: “Because they are cheap!” Like the Beane character in the movie, many fantasy leaguers find themselves in situations where they have spent a majority of their budget but nevertheless must fill out their rosters. How to find the proverbial “diamond in the rough” or undervalued player to vault the team into contention is the annual conundrum that challenges fantasy leaguers and is the real joy of playing what is arguably America’s hobby. It is also what drives the Oakland GM throughout Moneyball. Neither Billy nor true fantasy baseball players take pride in being smart enough to draft Albert Pujols after 10 or so seasons of almost superhuman performance. There is no secret there. What fantasy leaguers thrive on and what makes them successful is getting the undervalued Melky or Asdrubal Cabrera cheap in the spring BEFORE their breakout.
There are of course other familiar realizations that will come to fantasy leaguers while they revel in the movie. Specifically, there is no attention paid to starting pitching. Many fantasy leaguers believe pitching is inherently too unpredictable and therefore scarce resources are better spent on hitting. The venerated League of Alternative Baseball Reality known as LABR provides a case in point this year. Doug Dennis spent his scarce resources on offense, offense, and more offense and, barring an unprecedented collapse, will take home the gold when the season ends next week. [Note that because it is a movie, the filmmakers had poetic license to ignore completely the reality thatOaklandhad three of the best young hurlers in the game in 2002 – Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito but I digress]
The bottom line here is that Moneyball is a must see for any fantasy baseball player. There will be many moments of “oh yeah” or “been there” or “tried that” moments which will just be plain old fun for you.
“I Hope I Die Before I Get Old”
Sticking with entertainment for a moment because, well it is my column. You all should know the line quoted above. Of course, it is from the Who’s My Generation”. I saw Roger Daltrey belt that out last night at an unbelievable concert in which he performed Tommy soup to nuts. Of course, it is easy for Roger to say as at 67, he has the energy and power of a man half his age. He seems like he can just keep on doing this forever. It is just flat out awesome. If Roger can sing in 2011 the way he did when the song first came out 45 years ago, then maybe Mariano Rivera can do as he says and pitch until he is 50. You never know.
Back to the Fantasy Analysis
Ok, here we go – back to the nuts and bolts of why you click on this column -- a few tidbits for those still in the hunt for fantasy nirvana
Chris Parmelee: The Minnesota 1B has 3 dingers and 9 RBI in the last 7 days and gets KC pitching over the last three days of the season. He has never been a huge power hitter but if you need pop this year, it is not crazy to think a hot streak can last three more days.
James Loney: Though I have always liked the LA lefty, he has disappointed me once too often. 2011 has proven to be another bad year, with only 11 HR and 63 RBI – woeful numbers for a roto first sacker. That said, Loney is on fire now. He has 14 hits and 11 RBI over the last 7 days and gets to hit in AZ over the last three days of the season. Why not?
Rafael Soriano: He saved over 40 games last year, so he can do it. Mariano is unlikely to pitch in more than one game over the last three inTampa. Thus, if you are looking for a key save in the last three games, Sori could easily get it for you.
Chris Davis: TheBaltimore slugger has not hit for power recently, but the O’s are hot,Davis is playing everyday and therefore, there is a real chance for finding late, cheap value here. Buy.
Wade Leblanc: The SD lefty mowed down 10 last night and gets one more start Wednesday. He is not that good and it is a come down game. Be very careful.
And, not to be forgotten, Schultz says “Ever since The Week That Was starting synopsizing the week's events in Major League Baseball and prognosticating upon what it means for the week ahead, its been a tradition to end the season with the All-Schultz Awards. It is an event looked forward to by thousands of baseball fans across the country (read: my Dad). If we do a column next week, the All-Schultz lists of goats, surprise and MVPs will have its 2011 showcase. However, if this is to be the last Schultz Says for 2011, I'll simply give the All-Schultz MVP Award to Glenn Colton. (Everybody in unison - awwwww). By my estimate, this column has been around for more than a decade and over that time Glenn has given me free reign to write whatever I want in this little space, rarely exerting editorial control over its content and, to my chagrin, never fixing my spelling or grammar. (Although he did once keep me from calling Josh Hamilton, Joey Hamilton). Despite two of the major networks booting me from this column (it may only be one - I'm relatively certain NBC has no clue who I am), the long standing belief that I am Leo Nunez to his Juan Oviedo and the distinct possibility that I am chattel that may be bequeathed to Bobby if he ever turns the column over to him, Glenn has always made sure I've been a part of The Week That Was. If I ever appear ungrateful in this column, it's pretty much just an act. Thanks, my friend.”
Unless we are in ‘print next week’: See you in 2012.”
Response: Thank you! Well, I was not sure if there was going to be a post-season wrap-up, awards, “lessons learned from 2011,” column but now I know there will be and I look forward to it. In all seriousness, I have a couple of things I have to say. First, there really is a Schultz. Many of you out there tell me that I have contradicted myself when Schultz and I do not agree only to learn that I am just me and Schultz is just Schultz. In other words we are not one and the same so lets put that to bed shall we? Second, I have to do a right back at ya buddy. Schultz has been adding his unique brand of wisdom and wit to this space with little fanfare. Thank you sir! Mr. and Mrs. Schultz, you should be very proud!
Next week, a season wrap up and a column to be kept and re-read in March as you prepare for draft day 2011.