September 22, 2005

With a little over a week to go in the 2005 season, 13 MLB teams arecompeting for the final seven playoff spots, and hundreds of thousands
of fans probably still think they have a chance of winning their
fantasy leagues.

I am somehow one of those fans. I’m in a zillion leagues this year,
and I had the luxury of playing in my wife’s family league (it’s pretty
casual, to say the least).

But in an effort not to jinx my first shot at a title in eight
years — I’m trailing by two points as I’m typing this — let’s shift
the focus back to some of the negative things that went down this past
week in the fantasy world …

Tie goes to the other guy
Back in March, I joined a rookie-level head-to-head league to see of I
could actually win a fantasy title for once. While I felt guilty
competing against unseasoned fantasy players, my miserable track record
suggested that I probably belonged with this group anyway.

The draft was held online, and right away it was obvious that
most of the other nine people had no clue what they were doing. By the
end of the night my pitching staff included the likes of Johan Santana,
Jake Peavy, Ben Sheets, Oliver Perez, Chris Carpenter and Eric Gagne.
My lineup featured Miguel Tejada, Corey Patterson, Melvin More, Hideki
Matsui, Marcus Giles and Carlos Lee.

Winning a title in this league was virtually guaranteed — or so I thought.

While my team played well for most of the season, it didn’t
dominate. Gagne was lost for the season, Perez and Patterson completely
bombed, and Sheets missed time and didn’t pitch nearly as well as he
had in 2004. But with a ton of talent, I was able to secure the No. 3
seed in the four-team, four-week playoffs, which began on Sept. 5.

I was matched up against a team loaded on offense (Albert
Pujols, Derrek Lee, Carlos Delgado), but weak in pitching (Zack
Greinke, Bronson Arroyo, Jeff Weaver and Javy Vazquez all starting), so
I knew I’d have a decent chance if my offense could come up big.

The first week was a complete disaster, and I wound up losing
seven of the 10 standard fantasy categories to fall behind 7-3 heading
into the second week (you get a win or loss in each category). Since I
was the No. 3 seed playing the No. 2, my team would have to win eight
of 10 categories to reach the finals. (A 10-10 tie after two weeks
would have favored the better seed.)

And for once, things actually started to fall my way last week.
My offense exploded, and heading into the final day’s worth of games on
Sunday, I knew I had already clinched the Runs, HR, RBIs and AVG
categories, as well as Wins, Saves and K’s.

If I jumped my opponent in steals (I was trailing 7-6), WHIP (we were
almost dead even) or ERA (back 0.40), I’d be in the finals. With Chris
Carpenter and Chris Capuano set to pitch, I figured I was in good
shape.

But for the second time in the week, Carpenter didn’t look like a Cy
Young candidate (4 ER in 4 IP), and Capuano (who had a solid start
earlier in the week) fell flat on his face, allowing 10 baserunners and
four runs in five innings. My chances of winning ERA and WHIP had
vanished, but a Preston Wilson steal early in the Washington-San Diego
game moved me into a tie in steals, meaning that I should have finished
the week at 7-2-1 (10-9-1 overall) — good enough for a trip to the
championship round.

But since my opponent was ranked higher than I was, he was
given the nod by the computer in steals, putting us in a 10-10,
two-week tie, which he also won since he had a better regular-season
record.

Sure I understand that there must be one winner, and that he
deserves to win a 10-10 tie, but in reality, he went 9-10-1, and there
should be no tiebreaker at all. I thought of writing an e-mail,
protesting the way the winner was calculated, but knew that since the
rules detail how a winner is chosen, it would get me nowhere.

It’s too bad my opponent didn’t own …

Woody Williams and Matt Clement
There are probably hundreds of fantasy-title battlers who had their championship plans derailed by this gruesome twosome.

Clement got his rear-end kicked in by Oakland on Sunday, allowing seven
earned runs, eight hits and a walk in only 1.1 IP. Williams one-upped
Clement on Tuesday, when the last-place Rockies pounded the Padres
pitcher for nine hits and eight runs in 1.0 IP.

Anyone who had both guys pitching probably watched their ERA
rise 0.10 in the span of three days, after adding on 15 runs and only
two innings to their season totals.

Tough to get any worse than that, unless you also own …

Daunte Culpepper
Eight interceptions and no
touchdowns from a guy that went in the first round of many fantasy
drafts? That’s like picking Albert Pujols and then having him go
.083-0-1 in April. Some things in life aren’t supposed to happen,
including a first-round fantasy pick looking like the reincarnation of
Heath Shuler or Akili Smith.

Culpepper owners across the country are panicking right now,
and some have probably picked up guys like Trent Dilfer or Anthony
Wright to start in Week 3. While it is never a good idea to get
yourself too worked up after a couple of weeks, the void left by Randy
Moss and former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan means that
Culpepper will have a very tough time returning to anywhere near his
2004 form.

For those of you who start two quarterbacks in your leagues,
here’s hoping you didn’t start Culpepper and Joey Harrington (5 INT vs.
Chicago) last week.

1 Comment

I want to make it to the World Series. I want to cut a strip of grass during the World Series to promote yard safety awareness.

I present to you Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man (sm) – a yard safety super hero. About a year ago, I had a lawn mower accident that resulted in the partial amputation of my left foot. Consequently, I have been an advocate and promoter of yard safety, with the goal to prevent these outdoor power equipment accidents from happening to other people.

Furthermore, I have been a renaissance yardman, utilizing various art forms to communicate my safety message. I have approached Major League Baseball about the possibility of dedicating one day of the MLB season as Yard Safety Awareness Day. Each, there are about 400,000 individuals who experience lawn mower and garden-tool-related accidents, often times resulting in severe and life-altering outcomes. Since baseball is America’s pastime and often played on natural turf, I ask for your assistance and consideration to facilitate this humanitarian idea.

Please visit the Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man (sm) website at http://www.rescuerick.com for additional information. Thank you for your BLOG. Best wishes!

Richard Mudrinich

Rescue Rick the Grass Cut Man

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