Sunday, June 24, 2018

Fantasy baseball: Ode to Mediocrity

Holy Moley, it’s almost fantasy baseball time again.

Time to assemble the 2017 version of my fantasy team, Dirt’s Clods (kind of a long story, but it involves news coverage of the rough old days of stock car racing, which is a really long, sordid story).

The Clods are an original member of the Billy Gardner Super 8 League, so named for the former Minnesota Twins manager who, rather than rent an apartment during his four years with the team, rented a Super 8 Motel room (two points better than Motel 6, as my fellow sophomoric friend Bruce and I have noted).

The BGS8 was born in 1990, a few years before the onslaught of email and cell phones – even before the Internet really caught on.

That was fantasy baseball’s Dark Ages. Our league commissioner, who still has that onerous job, had to MAIL US COPIES of our weekly stats, again because (hope you young ‘uns are sitting down) there WAS NO INTERNET. 

No email, no smartphones, no constant texting, no FitBit, no Google, no Facebook, no Snapchat, no GPS, no, no, no FarmVille, no nuthin.’

Don’t know how we survived. It’s all a blur. We must have muddled through.

I should back up. Fantasy baseball is for hardcore Major League Baseball fans who gather just before each season begins to draft their favorite MLB players, as if they (the fans) were real, live MLB owner/general managers.

We give our teams funny names, some unprintable in a family newspaper, and get about $220 in pretend money (after putting about that much actual cash money in to pay for the league website and stuff) to draft a certain number of pitchers, catchers, infielders, outfielders and utility players.

Your position in the league standings depends on how they perform in a million categories: batting average, homers, steals, earned run average, walks/hits to innings pitched, oxygen consumed per at-bat, etc., etc., etc.

Things don’t always go well. It can be a long, hot summer.

I used to know every American League player’s name, age, shoe size, batting average and earned run average. 

Jim Kaat went 18-11 and led the Twins to the 1965 World Series, and went 25-13 in ’66. The Twins’ Bert Blyleven had the world’s best curveball, helped us win the ’87 Series, won 287 games (and lost 250) and was finally named to the Hall of Fame in 2011. Now we need to get Kitty Kaat in there.

Harmon Killebrew hit 573 monstrous home runs. Rod Carew hit .388 in 1977, falling just short of being the first player since Ted Williams to hit .400 or better (Teddy Ballgame hit .406 in 1941).

Denny McLain went 31-6 in 1968. His Tigers beat Bob Gibson’s Cardinals four games to three in a terrific World Series, just before expansion, when there were just 20 MLB teams - 10 each in the American and National leagues – and division play did not exist.

I still know a few Twins players. But last year the BGS8 – firmly entrenched all these years with American League teams - expanded to include the Cubs. And as they would say Back East: I don’t know from the National League.

Had to study up for the draft. Thought maybe this infielder/utility guy Tommy La Stella was good. He must be OK. He made it to The Show. And he has kind of a baseball-ish name.

Alas, you can make the Big Time and still be mediocre.

The Clods had a bunch of Tommy La Stellas (sorry, Tommy!). We fared rather poorly. The front office (me) was quite disappointed.

We will try again this summer, still flushed with pride at having the second-best pitching staff in league history (and finishing fourth overall – just out of the money).

Sure, that was one season. And sure, it was in the early ‘90s. But it’s a pretty sweet achievement for us, the Cleveland Browns of the BGS8.

And if we study up and don’t get big eyes and spend gobs of money in the first hour (of the all-day draft), or lay shrewdly in the weeds and have gobs of money left over, this could be the Year of the Clod.

The thrill is back.

Never count out us out.

As Bullwinkle J. Moose, that famed Wossamotta U football star, would exclaim: 

This time, for sure!


Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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