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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.”


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.


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.


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.


Padre fans, check out these blogs:   (A listing of 40-plus blogs devoted to the San Diego Padres and its fans.)

Red Sox fanatics, go here: (A compilation of all things Red Sox)







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 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

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 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?

Keeper Leagues Get Screwed By So-Called Fantasy Experts

Fenway Park

Spring Training games are well underway, and that means fantasy draft prep time is heating up. Better be heavy into March Madnessfantasy baseball‘s version. Otherwise, forget about seriously contending this season.

Virtually all of us are mulling over the multitude of  alternate reality baseball info available on line and TV and at newsstands and bookstores. Unfortunately, for those of you competing in deep leagues full of savvy owners the so-called expert information for sale is woefully inadequate.

Simply put, there is never enough analysis of the bottom feeder Major Leaguers, especially for auction leagues with keepers. Seems like virtually all of the focus is on the top 100 ballplayers. The “experts” provide unoriginal, redundant rankings of the top players. We are spoon fed the same top 100, 300, and 500 hitters and pitchers.

Sure, the back end of a top 500 list may seem helpful. But the bulk of the airtime, print space, and web space is devoted to scrutinizing the top 50 players.

Take the upcoming 2012 season. The mock drafts and the average draft position reports published spend way too much time examining whether Pujols, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, or Miguel Cabrera is a better Number One pick. In keeper leagues made up of 14-plus teams, virtually all the top ballplayers are rostered as keepers before draft day.

In other words, the “professionals” tailor their analysis to the more casual fantasy player. So where does that leave the hard core managers of fantasy teams?

The San Diego-based league I currently compete in is composed of 15 teams and includes six guys who have been playing fantasy baseball for more than 15 years, including yours truly. Seven of the other guys have been at it for about seven to ten years. The 14th fellow has been playing the game for a few years, and this season we have one rookie. Pity him. Although, he is a lawyer…

In our league, we field 23 active MLBers plus carry six on the bench. If my calculations are correct, that’s a total of 435 ballplayers. And that’s not counting the couple dozen or so subbing for players on the Disabled List.

Pretty much sucks up almost all of the Top 500 Major Leaguers. That leaves us fantasy managers scrounging for platoon players, minor leaguers up for a cup of coffee, and–well, you get the picture.

Disagree? Would love to hear from you.


Check out my novel, High Stakes Fantasy—An Alternative Reality Sports Thriller. 

Check out my new novel, High Stakes Fantasy—An Alternative Reality Sports Thriller:

Second Place Not Good Enough

English: A baseball on grass.

Image via Wikipedia

Imagination is unrestricted by reality. That’s what fantasy, in its purest form, is all about. Unfortunately, for those  of us who have never won a fantasy baseball league championship we experience way too much reality throughout the long Major League season.

Makes for an even longer off season. We find ourselves in the “woulda-coulda-shoulda” mode

On occasion, some of us come close to reaching the Holy Grail, placing second, third, or fourth. But if you don’t take first for umpteen years, it hurts. In other words, we’re losers. At least many of us develop the loser mindset. Definitely doesn’t help on draft day.

Take yours truly. I’m in my 20th year of fantasy baseball, and have competed in three different leagues, but have never won it all.  Started in a snake draft league with nine categories. Eventually graduated to an auction ultra-league and then an auction league with daily transactions and a six-man bench. Oh yeah, our ultra-league, also known as a dynasty league, features six pitching and six offensive categories. That’s one shy of a baker’s dozen. Plus this league consists of 14 teams. Might go to 15 this season. Quite the challenge, yet still fun.

That’s because we get to play with our rosters a lot more. Kinda’ like playing with your action figures and toy army men back in the days before we started noticing the opposite sex.

Hate Losing? Me, too. Still having fun in your respective competitions? Me, too. Keep coming back for more? Of course. We’re passionate about the game, and can’t stop coming back for more abuse. In other words, we’re hooked.

By sharing my fantasy experiences in this blog, I hope it will be helpful to other losers out there. After all, we learn from our mistakes, even in the fantasy game.

Would really appreciate to hear from other losers. I’m sure there’s plenty to share. Maybe, just maybe we can help one another take the big prize!

— John L. Nunes

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