July 28, 2005

While I could run off my usual list of awful moves this week (benching Grady Sizemore (HR, SB) on Tuesday in favor of Larry Walker (placed on the DL) ), let’s turn to a number of fan questions and stories that have little to do with anything relevant to fantasy baseball. ?

Q: Should I trade Rondell White for Magglio Ordonez? Seems like a good move with Ordonez starting to hit. — M. Benninghoven, NY

A: Simple answer. I don’t own White in any league and I have Ordonez on two of my fantasy teams. Assuming you’ve been reading my column (since you did e-mail me), this information should be enough to let you know this is probably not a wise decision on your part. Expect Ordonez to bat .182 with one homer in the next month, as long as he is in my lineup.

Q: In early July I traded Scott Rolen and Troy Percival for Morgan Ensberg and Derrick Turnbow. With Percival and Rolen both likely out for the year, this has to be the best trade I’ve ever made. I know you always complain about awful moves, but what is the best trade you’ve ever pulled off, if any? — Jeff from Minneapolis

A: Great question, but tough to answer since it has probably been a decade since I’ve made a trade that has really benefited my team.

The one that always stands out was when I dealt Barry Bonds in 1994, and got Paul O’Neill, Mo Vaughn and John Valentin in return. My team was lacking in the infield, so I gave up the No. 1 fantasy player for a trio of potentially good players in an early-season deal.

Bonds would up with awesome numbers (.312-37-81-29) in the strike-shortened season, but O’Neill (.359-21-83), Vaughn (.310-26-82) and Valentin (.316-9-49) all had great seasons. While I lost some steals, I was playing in a points league, so SBs didn’t really matter all that much anyway. If I’d held on to Bonds, I also would have suffered through a season of John Jaha and Joey Cora, so the deal really worked out (I finished second in the league, and may have won had the season not ended on Aug. 11).

However, my favorite trade of any sort happened in Strat-O-Matic Baseball in 1987, when I sent Lou Whitaker and Joe Carter to my friend Chad in exchange for Roger Clemens and Steve Sax. Chad was desperate for a slick-fielding second baseman, and decided he would trade Clemens (whose card was based on his 1986 season — 24-4, 2.48 ERA) to acquire one (Whitaker).

The addition of Clemens meant that I had Mike Scott and the Rocket in my three-man rotation (that was our rule), and that I’d be able to pitch them five of seven games in the World Series (while deciding between Mark Gubicza and Bruce Ruffin for Games 3 and 6). Needless to say, I easily won the World Series in five games (losing only Game 3 of course).

The best part is, our rules back then gave us rights to players for their entire careers, so if we ever decided to start our league back up (it’s been 11 years since we last played), I’d still have rights to Clemens today. I still get tons of pleasure pointing out to Chad how the trade still hurts him 18 years after it was executed.

Q: Is there anything that annoys you more than fantasy baseball? After reading your column the past three years, I can’t imagine anything can upset you more than finishing near the bottom year after year. –Darrell Williams, Pittsburgh

A: Darrell, I could easily list 691 things, but I’ll stick to the first nine that come to mind:

? Small people who put their seats back on airplanes, without at least checking to see who is sitting behind them. If you are 5-foot-2, and I am 6-foot-1, and we are going to be flying for the next five hours, don’t even think of crushing my legs. I actually bought a product a year ago called the knee defender than prevents people from putting their chairs back, but I’ve been too afraid to use it after reading articles about fights breaking out between passengers.

? People who claim they used to play professional sports, but are lying. This holds true about 92 percent of the time by the way. Next time someone tells you their dad played in the Phillies organization in the late ’60s, don’t believe them. Odds are their dad was on the Phillies in his local little league when he was 11.

? Waiting in line at a store/toll booth, and then watching the other lines move faster than the one you are on. This becomes much worse when you switch to a different line, and then the line you were originally on starts moving faster than the one you are on now.

? Anyone who blows cigarette smoke in my direction. Thanks for the cancer fumes.

? Anyone who talks loudly on cell phones at sporting events (or really anywhere). If I were in charge of things, I would automatically ban you from arenas until 2067.

? People who walk into movies as they start, act shocked that a theater could be full on a Friday night, then precede to ask folks in every row if seats are taken, right as the movie is starting. My friend Dmitry is the master of this, which is why the last movie we saw together was "Regarding Henry" in 1991.

? The lack of Boo Berry cereal in the N.Y. area. It is so hard to track down a box, that my friend Brett and I had a bet that lasted six months on who could find a box of Boo Berry first. He won when he found a store 100 miles outside of NYC that carried the impossible-to-locate cereal, and now I owe him dinner.

? Movie box office records. Possibly the dumbest stat in the world. I love hearing things like "’Million Dollar Baby’ made more money than ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Rocky’ combined, in its first weekend." Really? Maybe it’s because movies cost $10 now as opposed to $2 back then, and that there are a zillion theatres and more people living in the U.S. than there were 25-30 years ago. Hey you know what? The 2004 Expos also made more money on ticket sales than the 1927 Yankees. Wonder why?

? WNBA and preseason NHL scores appearing on TV sports tickers during NFL Sundays. I’ve complained about this several times before, but please find me one person who cares what the Nashville-Columbus exhibition score is at 3 p.m. on a Sunday in the early fall. When there are tens of millions of people worrying about their fantasy teams and other interests, why make people stare at the scores of games no one in the world could possibly care about.

And finally, the top sob story of the week:

Dr. Doom:

I am currently in ninth place in a 10-team, mixed, modified 5×5 (weighted categories). My season to date can be summarized in two examples.

1. I arguably get the steal of our initial draft with the best rookie in the league (Barmes) in the 21st round, and bench him in favor of the twitchy Mr. Hamm, who promptly gives me 51 ABs @ .157/0/4/6/0 and rips his leg apart. Now I must play Barmes, who promptly gets hurt. Barmes prior to his injury: 225 ABs @ .329/8/34/40/4. So I had the knowledge and luck to draft him, but was just stupid enough not to actually play him!?!?

2. I get what I believe to be a great deal with Godzilla for Abreu. Consistently annual five-cat stud that I’ve always wanted finally gets his due at the Derby. Phillies are playing better in what has been described as a "launching pad" of a home stadium. Godzilla goes 26 games without a dinger, falls and twists his ankle (just like the blondes in his Japanese movies), and ends up the DH on a sinking Yankee ship. Post-trade stats:

Abreu: 82 ABs @ .195/1/9/14/5.
Matsui: 87 ABs @ .333/8/19/21/0.

–K. Lee

Between Nomar’s 73rd injury in four years, Barmes’ problems carrying deer meet and Abreu apparently using up all of his stuff in the HR Derby – you’ve had a pretty tough run this season.

Unfortunately I can relate quite well.

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