BoSox, Padres, All-Star Game, Losing…

Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing; nobody wants you to quit   when you’re ahead.  

Jackie Robinson

Your team losing game after game, year after year, wears down baseball fans. Fickle fans stop showing up, spending their hard-earned dough and priceless discretionary time on other distractions. Fanatics don’t give up. It’s a safe bet most diehard fans of losing teams drink more beer than they should. Call it coping. Some of us eat our way through the game. Just ask Pablo Sandoval.

Me, I’m a Major League Baseball fanatic, but also a homey, thus the necessity of rooting for the San Diego Padres. Thankfully, I’m a native of Boston, giving me a second homey license. Love the Red Sox, almost always in playoff contention.

1978-all-star-game-sd1But the Padres have a major edge over the BoSox:  San Diego’s mild weather. Makes for many shorts and T-shirt nights at the ballpark. The Pads average rainouts every six to eight years. Boston? Rain, snow, and just plain cold for the opening months followed by months of “schwetty” day and night games.

Petco Park is also one helluva’ playground for fans of all ages. Padre front office has invested in a ton of technology to keep fans entertained while their players usually come at a discount. You get what you pay for.

On the other hand, Fenway has history, the Green Monster, and arguably the most fanatic fans in the Majors. Often, the games at Fenway resemble an NFL battle, where fans are constantly on their feet, shouting for their team and against the bad guys.

What about most Padre fans? Predictably, they are laid back folks. Many often arrive late to games and leave early. The younger adults and the kids are more interested in the stands are more interested in whether they are shown on the gigantic ballpark video screen. NFL,

In a way, you can’t blame these easily distracted fans. After all, who wants to keep a watchful eye on every pitch and play? Besides, one of the major appeals of the game is to enjoy the crowd and park’s ambience.

Papi Pedroia high fiveMeanwhile, the Padres go about their business, which most often is lose, lose, lose. Take solace, San Diegans in the knowledge that other cities have had chronic loser teams. The small market Pittsburgh Pirates once had losing records for 20 consecutive seasons. 2013 broke that losing streak, and the Pirates have never looked back.

Sure the Padres chalked up the National League’s best offensive stats for the month of June, and that should have garnered many W’s, but their pitching staff blew a fair share of the games.

And so it goes…Padre Fans continue to dream of having an MLB franchise overflowing with player talent that takes them to the playoffs year after year. Remember 1984 and ’98? Distant memories.

The Petco Park 2016 consolation prize: The All-Star game in a few days. Plenty of Major League studs will take the playing field July 11 (All-Star home run derby) and July 12 (All-Star game). Sadly, the Padres just have one of its players named to the All-Star team. First basemen/outfielder Will Myers made it as a reserve.

Perhaps another Padre representative will be the 1992 Home Run Derby winner. Mark McGwire, who is now the Padres bench coach.

Next week’s AS game will be the third AS game hosted by the Padres. Closer Trevor Hoffman was the token Padre named to the team in 1992. Ken Griffey, Jr. was the game’s MVP. In 1978, Steve Garvey was most valuable for the NL.

Four of my Red Sox named to the American League team.

The Major League All-Star game is slated for July 12 at Petco Park. Hopefully, the Padres will not have traded away Myers. I fear it may happen as we “rebuild.”

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In 20-some years of playing fantasy baseball, I’ve lost more often than not. Simply put, the game is fun – win or lose. It’s also addicting. Enhances the real Major League games. Often conflicted when a pitcher or hitter opposing my Padres or Sox provides me with great stats. How about you?

How about injuries to ballplayers? Do you feel good when guys on one of your fantasy opponents’ rosters goes down with an injury? Me, it depends on the severity of the injury. If it’s serious, and I respect the Major Leaguer, then I do not relish the occurrence. Otherwise, I might just applaud the injury.

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This is the first MLB season I am dabbling in the head-to-head game. Always been a Rotisserie-style competitor. Still am. Enjoying the H2H experience but will never give up Rotisserie.

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The New York state senate has deemed fantasy sports legal, despite the daily fantasy craze. Now it’s up to NY’s governor to decide.

The multi-billion-dollar industry (includes Canada) boasts. 57.4 million fantasy sports players, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. http://fsta.org/

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Padre fans, check out these blogs:

http://padreblogs.com/   (A listing of 40-plus blogs devoted to the San Diego Padres and its fans.)

http://friarsonbase.com/

http://www.friarhood.com/

http://padrespublic.com/rjs-fro/

http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/teams/san-diego-padres

Red Sox fanatics, go here:

http://www.redsoxdiehard.com/frames/llmain.html (A compilation of all things Red Sox)

www.overthemonster.com/

 

https://bosoxinjection.com/

http://www.survivinggrady.com/

http://joyofsox.blogspot.com/

http://www.redsoxrumors.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mourning for Tony Gwynn. How About You?

Mr. Padre video highlights  at Petco's Park at the Park.

Mr. Padre video highlights, Petco’s Park at the Park.

 

Here I sit at Petco Park watching the action on the field between my San Diego Padres and the rival L. A. Dodgers.

It’s my first game at the ballpark since Tony Gwynn had passed away seven days earlier.

Mr. Padre was on my mind throughout the game. Many at the park talked of Tony to friends and strangers, including Dodger fans. We were all shocked and surprised by his death.

Fan among hundreds that paid their respects at Petco Park the day Tony died.

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On the morning Tony died, I drove down to the Petco around 10:30 a.m. to pay my respects. At least 170 others were milling around Tony’s statue perched on a grassy hilltop at Petco’s Park at the Park just beyond the outfield bleachers.

Many were dressed in Tony Gwynn jerseys while quite a few placed flowers and small placards at the foot of the legend’s likeness. And almost everyone had cameras.

People were tearing up, occasionally applauding his accomplishments that were shown on the giant video screen not far from Tony’s statue.

Most of us just watched in silence.

#

It has been ten days since Tony passed away, and I continue to mourn. His life and death very fresh on my mind. Still saddened. People around town still talking about his passing. National and local media kept his passing in the news, partly because he died of cancer likely caused by chewing tobacco and primarily because of who he was and what he meant to millions of us.

No doubt emotions will stir once again at the ball club’s official memorial scheduled for tomorrow night at Petco.

Been a Padres fan since they joined the Majors in 1969. And had the great fortune to be able to attend Game Five of the 1984 National League Championship, both World Series matches at home against the Detroit Tigers, and both World Series home games in 1998 versus the New York Yankees.

Tony played an important role in all of those games. Even hit one out at Yankee Stadium during the ’98 Series. He called it his greatest at bat. And he said one of his greatest moments in baseball was the ceremonial pitch thrown at the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park. He didn’t throw it, but helped his idol and mentor, Ted Williams, toss it.

#

Tony Gwynn, 1998

I had the good fortune to talk with Tony on two occasions and ran into him on another.

At Spring Training 1985, when the Padres were the defending National League champs, I was on assignment for Sport Magazine. Tony was one of several Padres I briefly interviewed about teammate Terry Kennedy. Despite Tony’s young age, he was quite poised and very approachable. Impressed the hell out of me.

#

The second conversation with the legendary ballplayer came in the late Nineties at a community dinner where he was to be honored for his many community efforts.

He was there a bit early, just standing around, so I went up to him and chatted for a few minutes. I’m sure he didn’t remember me from our brief interview some 12 years earlier (didn’t expect him to), but always the nice guy, he pretended to recall our 1985 locker room chat.  While we small-talked before the community dinner commenced, he gave me his full attention, chuckled now and then, and never tried to end the conversation. We mainly talked baseball. Just made me feel special.

That was one of Tony’s many gifts. He made us feel special and his equal.

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Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, 2007.

Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, 2007.

A few years after Tony retired from playing the game in 2001, I was meeting one morning with a Padre advertising rep inside the Padre offices at Petco. We were conversing in a common area when Tony wandered in dressed in baseball garb. We greeted one another as the eight-time batting champ walked by, then I asked the ad rep what Tony was up to.

To my surprise, the man who was known for his tireless work ethic when he played the game, was there to practice hitting, presumably in one of the underground batting cages. Amazing!

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In the magical year of 2007, a close friend and I made the cross country trek to Cooperstown to see our hero inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A rarity for a Padre.

Turned out to be most historic Hall of Fame Induction ever. The induction of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. broke the attendance record by at least 25,000. Some 75,000-plus showed up.

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An extraordinary person who gave us so much – on and off the field. I will miss him.

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Tony Gwynn  honored @ Fenway Park.

Tony Gwynn honored @ Fenway Park.

 

 

Been to the Ballpark Yet?

“You should enter a ballpark the way you enter a church.”
Bill “Spaceman” Lee

Call yourself a true fan?  If blessed with a Major League park nearby, then should have made the pilgrimage to the ballpark by now. Certainly by May 1st.

In my opinion, the start of the Major League Baseball season is not fully underway until you feast on that first game at the ballpark of your choice. Through April 17, the 2014 league-wide attendance totaled 6,804,827, down 106, 906 from last year, according to www.baseball-reference.com. Check this website to see how much your team is drawing.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee Retired BoSox Pitcher

Bill “Spaceman” Lee
   Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame Pitcher

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Petco Park attendance through April 17 totaled 280,861, an increase of nearly 26,000. Takes me no more than 20 minutes to reach this downtown jewel – with traffic.

Petco Park is first class, but the same cannot be said of its tenants, the San Diego Padres. Doesn’t matter.  Along with Fenway Park, Petco is my preferred place of worship. Fenway, of course, is the most religious of ballpark experiences. Eat your heart out, Chicago Cubs fans.

          Can’t beat sitting in a Major or Minor league ballpark, particularly when the serene moments of soaking in the ambiance are punctuated by lightning-quick plays, phenomenal displays of athleticism, and close, often controversial plays. Plays at the plate are the most exciting.

Frequently, people-watching is more entertaining than the game action. (See “Highlights” below.) Could do without the overpriced food and beverage, but almost always fail to do without.

And, of course, always expect the unexpected, from player and crowd behavior to your own. Bonus:  if you like dancing, you don’t need a partner.

Padre Trevor Hoffman 2nd All-Time   Career Saves

Padre Trevor Hoffman
2nd All-Time
Career Saves

My first 2014 game came April 16 under the lights at Petco. The Colorado Rockies were in town, sans Todd Helton for the first time in about 16 years. Good news for the Pads. But the Rocks did come armed with Carlos Gonzalez and the rejuvenated Michael Cuddyer.

Carlos Gonzalez Rockies Stud Outfielder

Carlos Gonzalez
Rockies Stud Outfielder

 

 

 

 

Highlights of April 16 Game…

 

Padre Yasmani Grandal

Padre Yasmani Grandal

  • Padres won!
  • Padres scored the winning run in the eighth without a single hit. Here’s how: Two leadoff walks, two fly outs, another walk, a wild pitch and an error.*
  • Pinch hit homer earlier in the game by journeyman Xavier Nady who returned to the Padres this season after playing for ten other MLB teams.
  • A pair of aging, supposed call girls – dressed allure — prancing up and down the adjacent aisle, posing for photos with four, ahem, middle-aged gentlemen in tow.
  • The almost-as-entertaining older gal dancing nearby between almost every inning while her husband didn’t budge from his seat. During the action on the field, she shouted words of encouragement to the home team’s players.
  • Lots of new food choices offered by popular local eateries, including a custom ice cream concession, an expanded Phil’s Barbecue, and Seaside Market for the health conscious. The tri-tip and Hodad’s burgers were especially notable.
  • Lowlights…
  • Plenty of craft beer concessions located just about everywhere.                                                             
  • Craft beer prices were raised.
  • My first ever veggie dog – and last.  Mustard, catsup, and relish didn’t help.
  • Five Padres left on base.
  • The five retired Padre numbers perched atop the batter’s eye in center were replaced with larger versions.**
  • The call girls, (pole dancers perhaps?), also make this list. It’s a long story.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      * Specifically, the hitless, game-winning rally went down like this… …Xavier Nady and Seth Smith walked to begin the Padres the 8th. Then with two outs first baseman Yonder Alonso walked to load the bases for catcher Yasmani Grandal. With Grandal up to bat, Rockies reliever Rex Brothers misfired a first-pitch fastball allowing Nady to score and tie the game. Then Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario’s overthrew Brothers who was covering home. Smith rounded third and scored the go-ahead run to give the Padres the 5-4 lead.
TONY GWYNN Hall of Famer San Diego Legend

TONY GWYNN
Hall of Famer
San Diego Legend

** Padres whose numbers were retired:  Randy Jones, Dave Winfield, Trevor Hoffman, and arguably the best pure hitter since Ted WilliamsTony Gwynn.  Whoops. Forgot to mention the fifth number. Belongs to Steve Garvey. Many San Diegans disagree with the franchise’s decision to retire his number because Garvey spent 14 years as an L.A. Dodger before joining the Padres for his last five playing years. No doubt the Padres retired the Garv’s number because of his heroic efforts during the five-game National League pennant series against the Chicago Cubs that catapulted San Diego into its first World Series. Note:  Dodgers have NOT retired Garvey’s number.

 

There’s No Secrets in Fantasy Baseball

Harry_Caray_1988Assume most members in your auction league are as adept or better than you at drafting.

And since there is an obscene amount of fantasy baseball news and analysis out there online, in print, on radio, and on TV, how in the Harry Caray do you draft a championship-caliber team on Draft Day with a measly 260 bucks?

Also assume your opponents have access to the same info as you do. Worse yet, the enemies may devote more time preparing for the draft.

Plus it’s a safe bet that a chunk of the time you plan for draft prep will not always come to fruition, thanks to life. It always seems to get in the way. Inevitably, the wife/girlfriend/parent/sibling/boss make unexpected demands on some of that precious time you had set aside. Before leaving the nine-to-five grind behind, I would either call in sick or spend a vacation day on the day before our draft. Most of the time, the buffer day helped my Draft Day performance. At least it felt that way, and it certainly made my stress level a lot more manageable.

Nothing worse than showing up on Draft Day without feeling battle ready.

Back to the $260 question:  How do you draft a serious contender?

Carlos_Santana_ 2010Best answer: be disciplined, do your homework, and know your opponents strengths and weaknesses.  Simple advice, right? Tough to follow? You bet. Especially in auction leagues.

Take the case of Moe, a guy you have competed against for over a decade and have hoisted a few with many times. But just when you have Moe’s draft bidding tendencies figured out, he zigs instead of zags.

And then there’s Larry, the homey. He openly roots for his hometown Cleveland Indians. So you keep bidding up Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Trevor Bauer, Justin Masterson, etc., figuring good old Larry will pay way over value.

Not necessarily. Larry knows that you know he’s a diehard Tribe fan, so he bids you up, and then throws you a Clayton Kershaw-type curve, leaving a gaping dent in your Draft Day payroll.

Feel like quite the stooge?  But at least you landed Kipnis and Santana. So what if they cost you $40 apiece.

Every February, I vow this year’s draft will play out differently, yet most years, my behavior is similar.  Rarely to my liking. Bad habits die hard. So does that nauseating post-draft feeling. That’s when I come away exhausted and second-guessing myself.  But then again, we are own worst critics.

Thus far, there’s been one draft prep change for me this season.  I started my research on February 28, a month later than usual. If it helps, I’m a freakin’ genius. If not, I’ll probably go back to hitting the fantasy books much sooner, likely resulting in over thinking my research.

When I begin studying players as early as late January, I end up targeting guys included in my earliest wish lists. Then the mind games ensue.

Let me clarify. My mental health is just fine, but my ego-driven opinions of baseball players are hard to shake. In other words, this year I need to be more objective. Trust your instincts, except for the impulsive ones.

An extremely important part of fantasy is facing reality. Just because you covet a player’s performance at the plate or on the mound, make sure he helps improve scoring category balance for your team and comes at either fair market value or lower.  Easier said than done.

At the same time, of course, the harshest reality is in your face for the entire draft. We’re talking salary cap. As in most auction leagues, our Blue Moon Mesa has  the $260 cap to fill a 23-player roster.

In my opinion, the cap limits your purchasing power to a pair of elite players and perhaps two near-elite guys. Which is why we all spend an inordinate amount of time (relative term) mining for breakouts, bounce-backers, and sleepers (BB&Sers)

Another harsh reality: The tsunami of fantasy expertise available makes it extremely difficult to discover a BB&Ser that hasn’t been reported by the experts. Same holds true for top prospects. But then you know all this, as long as you are paying attention.Clayton_Kershaw

Expert Rankings/Commentary/Strategy.  Leading up to the draft, I check out three websites on a regular basis, but subscribe to only two. Sites I visit the most include CBS Sports (manages our league), ESPN, BaseballHQ, and RotoWorld. On occasion, I scan MLB.com and Yahoo! and assorted fantasy blogs. Baseball Prospectus doesn’t get much of my attention. I find the annually published BP epic overwhelming, particularly since it’s primarily designed to assist people in the real business of baseball.

Unfortunately, the websites and publications all “sound alike,” despite the great pains taken to sound unique. But if you keep a multiple of services within your sphere of influence, one or two will likely resonate. Maybe it’s the visual presentation or the content. For me, it’s a combination of the two, with content reigning supreme.

If I can navigate a website or publication with relative ease, and a majority of the site’s content is helpful, then I tend to rely on those sites more and more. I don’t care for sites that assault the senses.

PODCASTS:  I find the banter by the so-called experts tedious, especially when they trying to Yuk it up like ESPN and MLB Network commentators.

Don’t really watch the PODs, but I do listen. Typically run them while taking care of mundane tasks, like fixing a meal, driving, or contemplating my navel.

Last bit of advice: Keep draft prep and Draft Day in perspective. For an insightful read on this subject, check out Steve Gardner’s piece in the March USA Today Fantasy Baseball Special Edition. Of course, what Gardner has to share is no secret.

Neither is this:  The experts admit their player projections are wrong 60 – 70 percent of the time. What’s your batting average?

Padres, Playoffs, & the Pure Joy of Boston’s Red Sox

Fenway Park (five hours prior to 2013 ALCS Game 1)

Fenway Park (five hours prior to 2013 ALCS Game 1) (Photo credit: misconmike)

Got an e-mail from my friend Will with his annual fall question: Do I want to continue as a season ticket holder for next season’s San Diego Padre games?

And against my better judgment, I said count me in.  2014 will mark the tenth consecutive year that I invest heavily in my Padres. These tickets are top shelf, and the beer is not at bargain prices either.

Okay, call me a glutton for punishment.  Here’s my rationale for spending big bucks every year on a perennial loser.  I’m not really investing just in the Padres.  I’m devoting time and money in live baseball, up close and personal.  Otherwise known to me as live theater.  Actually, it’s the best kind of live theater because it’s loosely scripted with a different ending for every performance.

Nothing beats being at the ballpark, taking in the action–both on and off the field.  The people watching never disappoints.  And perhaps the most fun of all is visiting with your friends and neighbors in your section.

Carlos Quentin

Carlos Quentin (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

For the past 20 years or so, the critics of Major League Baseball say the game is too slow.  This could not be further from the truth.  Nevertheless, the game is packed with plenty of action, some of it less evident to the novice.  There’s more to the game than hitting, pitching, and fielding.

But then if you are reading this blog post, you already know what I’m writing about.  On the other hand, it never hurts to defend America’s National Pastime.  Perhaps a baseball novice will peruse this post.  And who knows, maybe they will give baseball another chance.

As for the Padres, at least the home games are played at gorgeous Petco Park, making home defeats easier to swallow.  The place is a veritable playground.  Plenty to do and see in addition to paying close attention to what’s happening between the lines.

If a true baseball fan follows a perennial loser like the Padres, these aficionados still get much enjoyment from watching their favorite team play, despite all the losses.  That’s because people like us regard each game as a singular entity unto itself, meaning a true fan of the game is just that—an enthusiastic devotee of the game.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fanatic. You won’t catch me jumping off a bridge into one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S., like the nutcase in Pittsburgh after the Pirates took the one-game Wild Card match against the Cincinnati Reds.

Well, at least I have some I still have my Boston Red Sox to root for this season, albeit via long-distance.  Being a Boston transplant to San Diego since my teenage days, I am able to visit Fenway Park only on rare occasion.  Four times since that most magical BoSox season of 2004. Oh yeah, and one rain out (2011).

Detroit and Boston are certainly evenly matched in this year’s American League Championship Series, making for nail biting contests. Thus far, the main highlight for Boston fans has to be the David Ortiz granny in Game Two. It is for me. Found myself jumping out of my recliner and shouting approval at the TV.  Fortunately, no one was in the room to witness my moment of unadulterated joy.

When a team of Boston’s caliber makes the playoffs they are taken seriously. The Padres are another matter. The San Diego franchise usually is battling to avoid the cellar. And when they shocked the sports world in ’84 and ’98, the Padres received no respect outside of San Diego.

Those incredible, unbelievable Padre seasons of ’84 and ’98 are etched in my mind, having attended many games during those years, including both World Series (three games) and the phenomenal National League pennant three-game playoff run that catapulted the Pads over the Chicago Cubs and into the 1984 Series.

Unfortunately, the Padres picked the wrong seasons to excel. In 1984, they lost the series in five against the Detroit Tigers, which began the season with an astonishing 35-5 record. Fast forward to 1998, when the Padres were bulldozed four straight by perhaps the best New York Yankees team ever.

Maybe next year the Padres can make the playoffs.  After all, the ball club’s owners have announced they intend to increase player payroll

English: San Diego Padres Cap (1974 - 1984)

English: San Diego Padres Cap (1974 – 1984) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by $20 million.  One can always hope…  That Carlos Quentin is healthy…  That a legitimate number one or two starter is acquired…  That a power bat is added to the lineup.

Of course, if San Diego disappoints me and millions others yet again, next year’s Red Sox action should certainly boost my spirits.

Seattle’s Safeco Field versus San Diego’s Petco Park

How Many Major League Baseball Teams Do You Root For?

  Come July, the San Diego Padres travel to Fenway Park for a three-game series to take on the Boston Red Sox. That means I win and lose, no matter the outcome.

Let me explain. I root, root-root for the home teams—as in two.  Born in Boston, my childhood days were spent glued to our tiny TV set in the mid-to-late Fifties, idolizing an aging, yet still splendid Ted Williams, my childhood hero. Outfielders Jackie Jensen and Jimmy Piersall were also favorites. Hall of Fame sportscaster Curt Gowdy was the crisp voice of the Boston Red Sox.

Dustin in Houston

Dustin Pedroia (Photo: Wikipedia)

In 1960, our family moved to San Diego. Coincidentally, Williams was born, raised, and, while still in high school, began playing for the AAA Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres before signing with the Sox.

In 1969, the National League Padres were born. Within a couple of years, I found myself following the Padres with passion. Needless to say, a stark contrast to the BoSox.

Millions of baseball fans follow multiple teams. Some are also transplants, native to one Major League city, then moving to another MLB town where the team grows on you.  Or fans cheer on a team their transplanted parent(s) grew up with or their significant other persuades them to support yet another team.

If lucky, your teams are often contenders.  Or perhaps you find yourself stuck in schizophrenic situation similar to mine. Maybe you were born in St. LouisSan Francisco or New York, and now find yourself now living in Chicago, Pittsburgh or Houston. And depending on when the notorious Miami Marlins fire sales are conducted, this franchise also makes the loser list.

Of course, the New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas are each blessed with two teams, while the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s are only about a 30-minute drive from one another. No doubt multitudes of fans residing in these giant metropolises often feel torn between two lovers.  But what about those rare seasons when both of their hometown clubs contend? Color me envious.

In its 44th year of existence, the perennial loser Padres franchise is even harder to swallow. Padre fans absolutely abhor the “small market” excuse that the various ownership groups rely on to continue their cheap ways. For at least the past 20 years, San Diego has ranked as one of the ten most populated cities in the nation.

Chase Headley Right handed swing

Chase Headley (Photo: Wikipedia)

In the early Seventies, I kept reminding myself that expansion teams take a while to develop into contenders. Well, other than the ballclub’s pathetic World Series performances in 1984 and 1998, the Pads have generally sucked.

On the bright side, there were a few great players starring on Padre losing teams that kept us thrilled. Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Tony Gwynn quickly come to mind. And closer extraordinaire Trevor Hoffman will likely be inducted into the famed Hall in 2015. Sinker ball phenom Randy Jones was also a favorite. Unfortunately for Randy, the  Cy Young Award winner pitched for the Pads in the Seventies, when those teams were downright embarrassing.

Thankfully, there are exciting moments during virtually all ballgames that bring us to our feet to either cheer or boo. Happens at every MLB ballpark.

As for the Padres this season? As of May 8, they have won 11 of their last 14, after a dismal 5 and 15 start of the season. Now, the Pads are hitting, throughout the line-up.  Nevertheless, the San Diego squads have teased us, decade after decade. Starting pitching is currently the main concern, but that story is for  another time.

Meanwhile, I take solace in my Sox. The overhauled Boston club is kicking butt in the American League, on top of the east division, making last year’s unusually pathetic performance a distant memory. How pathetic was Boston? They finished 2012 with the worst record in the Majors, losing a whopping 93 games! Ever think that would ever happen?

This season, the Red Sox have come out of the gate strong. David OrtizDustin Pedroia, and Clay Bucholz have ignited the team. As of May 8, they had 21 wins and only 13 losses.

On the other hand, we are less than two months into the 2013 season.

Yes, I admit to being a quasi-diehard San Diego Padres fan throughout my adulthood. Feel sorry for me. All of the owners since Ray and Joan Kroc have been cheapskates, specializing in fire sales. And recently, we had an owner who was forced to sell because he apparently couldn’t afford to keep the team.

Some good news: I continue to be a proud Boston Red Sox fan, having cheered them on since the age of seven. Rejoice. At least the Sox aren’t shy about spending player payroll. In fact, Sox management sometimes spends too much money on the wrong players. The team may not always come out on top, but they sure make it interesting, year after year. 2004 was magical.

In 2007, my beloved BoSox invaded Petco Park in San Diego. Made sure to attend one of the games in that three-game series. Not surprisingly, the always-rabid Red Sox fans out-cheered the laid back Padre fans. Even though the sun-soaked San Diegans made more noise than usual, they couldn’t come close to the continuous chants and rousing applause of Sox supporters.

Boston took two out of three that year. Fast forward to July 2, 2013, when the Padres  and Sox start a three-game series at Fenway. Highly doubtful Padre fans will make their presence known, save for a Padre blue ball cap or two. During July, Padre fans will hope to God that third baseman Chase Headley is still a member of the team. He’s a free agent at the end of this season.

Come July, the Red Sox will likely remain positioned well for the playoffs, and might even be in the process of acquiring a top talent or two for the stretch run.

So it goes..,

English: Boston Red Sox cap logo.

San Diego Padres: Primary Logo 2.0

Post Fantasy Draft Regrets, Luck and You

Austin Jackson and Derrek Lee

Austin Jackson and Derrek Lee (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Memo to Anxiety-Ridden Second-Guessers:

So you didn’t get most of the players you targeted to draft. So you overpaid for a few ballplayers. So you gave too much credence to the hype of a highly regarded prospect  who doesn’t have a clue at the plate. So you ended up with more speed guys than power hitters, more innings eaters than Ks guys.

Regrets are abundant, especially if your team starts out slow.

So what? It’s early. The season is barely two weeks old. So chill. Besides, this might be your lucky season.

Our auction draft took place the day before Texas took center stage on MLB’s opening day. Graded my performance a C-plus in our 14-member keeper mixed league, Blue Moon Mesa.

Here’s what happened. Armed with $177, after subtracting the cost of my eight keepers, I dropped out of the bidding for way too many top and middle tier guys, when I had the auction bucks to spend.  Plus I paid too much for Austin Jackson ($26), getting caught up in a bidding war.

Worse yet, I left six bucks on the table.  That six dollars could’ve helped get me another solid starting pitcher or another reliable power hitter. I coulda, shoulda…

Since the draft, second-guessing myself has been a daily occurrence. Anxiety over who I acquired and who I let slip through my mitt. Typical for me. How about you?

Why didn’t I go the extra couple of bucks to get Will Middlebrooks? And why didn’t I predict the phenomenal start by Chris Davis?  And…

Best way to calm down? Leave your ego on the bench. Better yet, banish it from the ballpark.  More importantly, remind yourself that this is just a game, a game that you enjoy, a game that expands your knowledge of pro baseball, enhancing the experience of watching ballgames on the tube and in person.

Trust me, fantasy baseball can be a godsend. I live in San Diego and root for the  home team, the perennial loser Padres.  Fantasy baseball provides me with something to cheer about when I take in games at Petco Park, and I go regularly.  I can at least cheer for my fantasy players on the visiting teams–silently, of course.  And thanks to the fantasy game, out-of-town scoreboard watching  is more fun. Incidentally, there are no Padres on my roster.

Another remedy, which for me is more of a band aid: join an online league. Later today, I’m snaking in a 12-team Yahoo! public league with unlimited add/drops. Perfect for a second-guesser.  Compared to an auction draft, snake drafting online is cake. If you can’t figure out which player to click on within 90 seconds, the draft software will pick for you from your pre-ranked player list.

English: A photo of San Diego Padres Petco Par...

English: A photo of San Diego Padres Petco Park as taken from overhead in a helicopter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beats going toe to toe for eight hours with friends. Or does it?  Four of us have competed against one another in the Blue Moon league for the past 15 or so years. And just a couple of years later, several more joined and are still with us.

Relationships that will no doubt continue for years to come. Can’t put an auction price on that.

Middle of the pack. That pretty much describes my Rotisserie team. Or…I could get lucky while others could have heavy doses of bad luck. After all, luck is a major factor in this game.

If I interpreted Ron Shandler correctly, luck factors big time in projecting player performance, given that human behavior and other non-statistical elements come into play.  In his thought-provoking 2013 Baseball Forecaster article, Shandler stated, “Research has shown that the best accuracy rate that can be attained by any (player forecasting) system is about 70 percent…”

So give yourself a break.

If you want more on luck, check out Richard Wiseman‘s book, The Luck Factor: Four Essential Principles. His research shows that  luck can be learned. It is available to anyone willing to pay attention to four principles:

  • Creating Chance Opportunities,
  • Thinking Lucky
  • Feeling Lucky
  • Denying Fate

And the British psychologist claims that people can determine their capacity for luck as well as learn to change their luck through exercises that appear throughout his book.

Well, time for a mock draft to familiarize myself with Yahoo’s game. My draft is scheduled for 5 pm.

After the online draft is completed, it’s a safe bet that I will suffer from post-draft anxiety.  Maybe I should sign up for a third league. Maybe this semi-retired guy should find another pastime.

No chance.

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Check out my new novel:  High Stakes FantasyAn Alternative Reality Sports Thriller

The Trouble With Elite

Dictionary.com defines “elite” as “the choice or best of anything considered collectively as of a group or class of persons.”

To fantasy baseball competitors, “elite” takes on an additional meaning: high risk, high reward.

English: Miguel Cabrera at Dodger Stadium.

English: Miguel Cabrera at Dodger Stadium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

THE RISK: Drafting elite players are a major investment, making draft day quite challenging, especially in deep salary cap auction leagues.

Draft a Miguel Cabrera or a Robinson Cano, better cross your fingers that your franchise player doesn’t get hurt nor has an off-year because elite players will eat up a major chunk of your $260 draft day budget.

This season, Triple Crowner Miggie typically has been going for $38 – $45, while winning bids for Cano are in the same ballpark.

And then there are the unproven, so-called “elite” players. Angel Mike Trout comes to mind. Sure, he made rookie history last year by performing on at a super elite level, but can he put up similar numbers in his sophomore season? Many fantasy experts have expressed doubts.

THE REWARD: Investing in proven elite studs can pay off big time in multiple categories. And late in the season for keeper leagues, an expensive elite player is irresistible trade bait that can fortify your keeper squad for the next season. Of course the trade could easily stir controversy, but that’s a hot topic for another time.

To finish first by investing in an elite Major Leaguer that costs a bundle, it’s imperative that the draft be finessed. In other words you better position yourself to acquire a few considerably under-valued/under-the-radar guys that produce great numbers. Plus you need to be prescient enough in your bidding to snag a couple of reasonably-priced ballplayers who have breakout seasons.

In other words, the stars have to align just right for you on draft day. To capture your league title, however, you also need to work the waiver wire at a near elite level throughout the season.

What about snake drafts? To me, the risk doesn’t seem to be as high. Let’s say your coveted first-round pick is considered elite but doesn’t pan out. Your picks during the next few rounds can make up for the mistake or bad luck.

In auction leagues, the early rounds often do not include legitimate early round picks. Get the other guys to spend money first. That’s the mantra followed by many.

In our deep, 14-member Blue Moon Mesa mixed league auction, Cabrera went for $37 last year. The team that drafted him, Milwaukee’s Best, captured the 2012 league title. He not only won it all last year, but his team’s first-place reign went wire to wire.

MB’s bidding prowess netted draft day bargains, but the real steals came in our league’s expansion draft, regarded by Mooners as a clearance sale. MB was the only new team to join our league in 2012, anointing him the sole participant in the expansion draft.

Nick Swisher batting in a game between the New...

Nick Swisher batting in a game between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles on 08/31/09. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His roster featured Johnny Cueto, $3, Nick Swisher, $6, Aroldis Chapman, $7, Jason Motte, $2, Jim Johnson, $5, Chris Sale, $10, and Edwin Encarnacion, $14.  Nice.

About our league’s expansion draft…Under Blue Moon’s rules, new owners were able to cherry pick seven players from the pool of ballplayers we didn’t keep.

Incidentally, we eliminated the expansion draft rule last fall after losing to the rookie owner last year AND a new member in 2011. (Actually, the “new” guy in 2011 competed in our league for several years before missing out on the 2010 season.)

For 2013, new owners will not start with keepers. They have to draft 23 players, while the remaining 13 teams will show up on draft day (March 30) with anywhere from five to eight keepers in tow.

The newbies realize it will make the draft considerably more challenging. For some, that means they will have to pay their dues.

On the other hand, we all know there is a plenty of luck in fantasy sports. Feeling lucky? Don’t bank on it.

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27)

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

By the way, we have four new owners this season. That’s a first for the Blue Moon Mesa league. Should shake things up on draft day.

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Check out my new novel:  High Stakes FantasyAn Alternative Reality Sports Thriller

Wise Guys/Gals Been Burning Midnight Oil for Draft Day

If smart, you have been knee deep in early pitching and hitting reports since the Super Bowl ended with a 49er whimper. If procrastinating, now is the time to get serious about performance evaluations, who’s moving on up in value, on their downside, breaking out, bouncing back, in a more potent line-up, and who’s hurt and how bad.

Joey Votto

Joey Votto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me, I almost always place little to no credence on statistical player projections. No one has a foolproof crystal ball, not even a Bill James or a Ron Shandler.

After all, you get only one chance at Draft Day. Pitchers and catchers reported this week, while position players trickled in during the following February days. Even the bad boys set to serve PEDs-induced suspensions. They are permitted to play minor league spring training exhibitions but forbidden to take part in Major League spring contests.

Right now, it’s all about research, research, research. Knowledge is key, and there’s already plenty of info out there in cyberspace. Because life always gets in the way, time management is critical.

Me, I’m always concerned about my auction performance. Will I make the same mistakes? Will I bid someone up to sucker a fellow fantasy leaguer only to be the one suckered, leaving me stuck with a player I paid too much for and didn’t really want?

Will I bid with my heart and not my head? Will I give too much credence to Spring Training performances? Will I get overly distracted by worrying about the amount of auction money I have left? Will I screw up the math?

Will I spend too much time talking smack and not enough time on critical last-minute decisions? Will I repeat the same mistakes? Will I pop open a brewski before I complete my roster?

Will I (fill in the blank­­­­­­­­       )?

IMG_0490

IMG_0490 (Photo credit: bridgetds)

Admit it, you all have committed such elementary errors.

Often, the simple things are overlooked, like not bringing enough food to get through an eight-hour draft day and bringing too much information to sift through. Or deviate so far from the draft plan that internal chaos renders you ineffective.               Our Blue Moon league draft will hold its auction March 30, a Saturday. Gives me close to eight precious weeks to be ready to dominate. Okay, I’ll settle for a draft performance that reaps respectable rewards come the October payout.

Blue Moon is a keeper league, and we draft from both the NL and AL. There are 14 league owners competing in a dozen categories, six offensive and six pitching. We maintain 23-man rosters and each have six players in reserve. Transactions are daily. Competition is serious.

Meanwhile, I have until March 15 to declare seven keepers, (includes two pitchers minimum), and it doesn’t look pretty. Two of them are dirt cheap to keep. That’s the good news. But circumstances beyond my control have both may start the season riding the bench, relegated to spot starts. The guys in question are outfielder Bret Gardner at $4 and middle infielder Jed Lowrie for a measly three bucks.

In the meantime, the so-called experts disagree on Lowrie. A sampling…ESPN, MLB.com, Rotoworld, and CBSsports.com have Gardner penciled in left field.  Encouraging news. As for Lowrie, there is plenty of disagreement. ESPN predicts he’s starting at the hot corner, Rotoworld says he’s slotted for second, but MLB.com and CBS have Lowrie as a backup infielder.

Muddying the waters: MLB Tonight TV program figure Lowrie to start the season at third base. Huh?

Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51)

Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Gardner is a virtual lock to steal 35-plus bags and believed to have sufficiently healed from elbow surgery, but there’s a future Hall of Famer named Ichiro that could stand in his way. The ageless Japanese import is now 39, and a full season as a Yankee should bump up his numbers across the board. Ichiro is also a box office draw at Yankee Stadium. Not to mention the right field porch is well suited for the lefty’s occasional home run swats. Gardner, 29, is powerless.

And then there’s Lowrie, who smacked 16 HRs in only 340 at bats for Houston. Impressive. He was an everyday player with his season cut short by injuries. Injury prone he is. To make matters worse, Lowrie was traded in January to Oakland, where management plans to use him as a backup infielder. Furthermore, Oakland’s cavernous coliseum is a far cry from hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park.

On the bright side, Lowrie is expected to eventually take over this season at short or second base,  maybe even third. Lowrie’s advantage: the A’s proposed starting infielders leave much to be desired.

And what about the remaining five I plan to keep? So far, no problem. They are Cliff Lee, $11, Matt Harrison, $2, Mike Adams, $4, Adam Dunn, $8, and Joey Votto, $32. All at bargain prices, except Votto, but the elite first baseman is worth every auction dollar.

From where I sit, Lowrie and Gardner are worth such low-dollar risk. Otherwise, my options are bleak. The rest of my hitters are PED-suspended Yasmani Grandal, $11, Jesus Montero, $15, Logan Forsythe, $11, Kevin Youkilus, $24, Jhonny Peralta, $12, Justin Morneau, $14, Michael Brantley, $11,Michael  Cuddyer, $28, Dexter Fowler, $11, Jeff Francouer, $11, Matt Joyce, $14, and Pedro Ciriaco, $11. Ugh.

My remaining pitching staff (keep in mind that we score Holds) includes Ogando, $11, Broxton, $5, Brett Myers, $4, Jake McGee, $11, Jon Rauch, $11, Dave Robertson, $11, Craig Stammen, $11, Pedro Strop, $11, Beckett, $13, and Jonathan Niese, $4.

What would you do? Do you see anyone in the above two paragraphs that I should keep in place of Lowrie and Gardner? Incidentally, I’ll avoid Beckett as much as Boston Red Sox fans would like to tar and feather Bobby Valentine.

Speaking of Valentine, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Better be prepared for V-Day, too…If I’m truly a wise guy.

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Check out my new novel:  High Stakes FantasyAn Alternative Reality Sports Thriller