The files are off to the printer, and it should start showing up on newsstands in a couple weeks.
About 80 percent of all players have played tonight. The Angels and Mariners just got started, the As and Royals have a few more innings. And I’m in first place in a league that I’ve written about a lot, but have never won. This isn’t the place to examine that, but I did want to look at the miracle of what has happened in the home stretch.
On August 27, my birthday, my team was languishing. I’m the Bad Kreuznachs.
I started thinking about at least making it into the money, fourth place, and it was clear that that was a stretch.
This was a team with a pretty good freeze list, a team that was in first place until the end of May, a team that didn’t have huge injuries. (Well, Dallas Keuchel missed too much time, and Zach Britton’s injury killed my saves strategy, but my pitching was surprisingly good, thanks to Brad Peacock and a bunch of middle relievers. When James Paxton got hurt, it didn’t even hurt, was how good my staff was.) It was a team for which I had high hopes, and desultory play across the board crushed them. Or at least so it seemed on August 27th.
Today, there are only a few games going on, so we’re down to just two days left in the season, and I am in a much different place.
The first week of September I had a monster week, with 27 homers and 58 RBI, and in each week since I’ve had the best offense in the league. This was the eventual payoff for adding Lucas Duda (FAAB) and Aaron Judge (trade Dallas Keuchel for him), and also the waiver pickup of Teoscar Hernandez after Ben Revere lost his job (if that hadn’t been clear I wouldn’t have been in on Hernandez and it would have cost me a few points), and the draft buy of the injured Wilson Ramos, who was weak upon his return from injury in July, but has been fantastic in September.
I built up such a lead in wins in late August, thanks mostly to middle relievers, that I was able to cut any starter who faltered down the stretch, and while some of the middle relievers that replaced them haven’t been very good, they haven’t pitched many innings and haven’t hurt my qualitatives.
And Trevor Bauer, who I had as a keep, and Brad Peacock, who I FAABed early on, have been lights out since the All Star break.
And even, after a year of Saves misery, Mike Minor earned a few saves in the last few weeks and earned me a point.
The end result is that what looked like a historically tight race a week or two ago, is now dependent on my team catastrophically failing in the last two days to be a race at all. I’m not discounting that possibility. I’m the new fresh face, the recent riser, and all season long those fresh faces rose and then fell in succession. The good thing for me is that time is running out.
So I’m not counting on anything, but I am amazed to be in this fortunate position, in a league I’ve long struggled to be the bridesmaid, from time to time, and never the bride, to be running my fingers through the wedding cake. Tonight, my aim feels true. A little more than two days will tell the tale. Even if I end up falling behind the Tooners or Kids in the last days I’ll feel fantastically lucky. On my birthday I would have been happy with fifth, and first reserve round pick in March.
Tonight I don’t have to discuss what I’ll settle for.
About a month ago I’d heard from Ron Shandler that I was nominated for inclusion in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. But being nominated was a first step to induction, which might take some years, if it ever happened.
Except that it happened today. I join my friend Lenny Melnick, and Ian Allen, whose Fantasy Football Index I have long admired, in the 2016 FSWA Hall of Fame class!
I also join a Hall full of friends and colleagues whose work has uniformly impressed me over the years, inspired me to work harder and better, and in whose company I am honored to be included.
Thanks to the HoF committee of the FSWA and in particular to director Andy Behrens and board member Ron Shandler, who I know worked on this. I’m very appreciative.
This is not a song by the Eagles.
Jimi at Couch Managers, a fine mock draft site, has invited a bunch of roto experts for a 5×5 draft tonight (February 3) at 8pm ET.
You can watch if you want at Couch Managers, and you might want to. The draft and chat room will be visible. This will not be a caucus.
The lineup is full of personality and includes Cory Schwartz, Adam Ronis, Tim Heaney, Gene McCaffrey, Joel Henard, Doug Anderson, Tim McLeod, Paul Sporer, Mike Gianella, Lawr Michaels, Ryan Bloomfield, and Chris O’Brien, plus someone named big magoo, from Razzball. Oh, and I’m playing, too.
The draft is over. You can see the results here.
UPDATED: The upshot: I took Kershaw with No. 5. Scherzer went at 15. There was then a pause, and then near the end of Round 2 pitchers started to fall off the board. All the shiny bubbles, the most desired players (Cory Seager went No. 30) kept being taken in the round ahead of where I had them ranked and so I ended up drafting boring productive hitters, until I had enough of them. Guys like JD Martinez, Adrian Gonzalez, Cargo. Closers went early, too. We really need some research on these different approaches. Do they matter? After all, if everyone is taking pitchers early the hitters they’re not taking early will be there later.
If you look at the draft, feel free to comment on who did best in the comments (and why).
As the clock counted down to the end of the Super Bowl Sunday night, the announcers speculated that maybe Bill Belichick should stop the clock, to give his team a chance to march the length of the field after the inevitable TD. But Belichick didn’t.
I would like to say that I assessed the situation and determined what the right thing to do was, for everyone, but mostly riding on the giddy head of Jerome Kearse’s insane catch moments before, all I was thinking was that the Seahawks were going to win in a most improbable manner. No way could they fail, I was thinking.
After the interception the social media blew up with astonishment that the Seahawks didn’t give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, and let him run for a touchdown. That seemed like the safe thing to do, and it certainly would have covered Pete Carroll’s ass, but Matthew Iglesias explained on Vox yesterday why throwing the ball on second down made good sense. In short, and ignoring the significant third possible outcome, a pass would have led to a Touchdown or a stopped clock, which would have allowed the Seahawks, if they didn’t score, to either run or pass on third down—since they had only one timeout left. In other words, by passing, the Seahawks would have time for three plays. If they ran they would have had time for two (or would be obliged to pass on third down, with everyone knowing the pass was coming).
Now, this is kind of true, but not only didn’t Pete Carroll use this explanation after the game for his decision, but such rational thinking about the situation gets in the way of game theory, and the need to mix it up in order to keep your opponent off balance.
Justin Wolfers explains in today’s New York Times that good and effective strategy depends on randomizing one’s choices. If the best choice is to run, and you always run, your opponent will defense against the run and running will no longer be your best choice.
Which raises the interesting question: If Belichick is so smart, shouldn’t he have realized that the Seahawks better strategy was to pass? And if he realized that, wouldn’t he assume Pete Carroll would also realize that? And, if Pete Carroll thought passing was the better strategy and he assumed that Belichick would also assume so, wouldn’t he be obliged to change up his plans and call for a run?
It’s important to remember that game theory helps us figure out the competing motives, but before time runs out a decision has to be made.
That it was to pass was fine, I think, but I wonder about throwing the ball into the middle of all that stacked defense. Why not throw over the head of a receiver running to the corner after a play action? Or have Russell Wilson roll out and throw if a receiver was open, with at least the option of carrying the ball in if they were defensed?
What we know for sure is that, no matter what the coaches were thinking, Malcolm Butler saw what was happening and stepped up at the right time. Nice play.
Trace Wood’s campaign to get Randy Johnson elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame, initiated after 16 voters failed to vote for Greg Maddux last year, was only a little successful. Fifteen of those deemed by the Baseball Writers Associaton of America qualified to vote for the Hall, neglected to name Johnson on the 2015 ballot.
Presumably one of old guard died in between ballots. Call that incremental improvement. At this pace, only 14 will leave Ken Griffey Jr. off next year’s ballot.
Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf wowed us by finishing first overall for the second year in a row, and this time actually won the Tout AL title, too, but the real eye opener was Bob Russo’s Triplets, which won the Doubt Wars mixed title with 23 points. He finished first of 61 teams in eight categories!
My favorite fantasy baseball website (and it should be yours), PattonandCo.com, had two entries in the CBS NL Fantasy Expert League, and wouldn’t you know it but Phil Ponebshek and Keith Cromer tied for first place! PattonandCo.com Co-champions for 2014.
In the CBS AL Fantasy Experts League, Cromer was outblasted the last two weeks of the season by Derek Carty, and ended up finishing a none too shabby second.
Another PattonandCo.com regular, Tim McLeod, took home the Tout Wars Mixed Draft league title this year, after a fierce battle with Perry Van Hook that was settled on the season’s final day.
Congratulations guys! Well played!
A friend of our friend Tim McLeod, Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick, has some first-hand experience with Holdzkom in Australia in 2013, and shares it at his website that covers Australian baseball. It’s a fun piece.
One of the country’s largest circulation daily newspapers announced yesterday that they’ve changed their policy, and will not publish (with the exception of reader letters and quotes in which the name is relevant, as well as packages supplied by outside vendors, though they’re going to try to strip it from those) the Washington NFL team’s name. I suspect they’re going to get some letters.