Monday, July 23, 2007

Getting Well

On the night Jon Lester makes his return from his bout with cancer, it's a good time to think of those who are sick and and yet to go through the hardest part of their ordeal. Kaylee is a 16-year old who blogs about the Red Sox. I've had her blog linked for a long time over in the links section. She recently revealed that the reason she hadn't been blogging as much is because she'll be having open-heart surgery next month. At 16. So keep her in your thoughts, if that's your thing, and ask for good things for her from the "big man upstairs," if you're Arnold Jackson. And check out her blog. She's done a great job keeping her sense of humor right where it always is, despite what she knows she'll have to face soon. Nice job, Kaylee. You'll be back on the hill pitching against the Indians soon.

Now back to Lester. I think this kid is gonna be fine. We remember the guts he showed last year, and if you don't think he has guts, look at the fact that last year he was diagnosed with cancer and he's fucking pitching tonight.

You can't put a number on that. I know all the fantasy people are in a bit of a panic right now about Jon, and they'd kill me for saying something as preposterous as that--that it matters what's inside the human being behind those stats. Funny, because those are the people who probably never played baseball. The type who would've gone right up to me in Little League and said, You can't get this guy out, he's hitting .750 vs. 10-year old righties at Fitzgerald Field. And then I'd say, Does that take into consideration that this kid killed my family and I've waited five years to exact my revenge? It's like a Quint vs. Hooper thing. Hooper was the scientist, and sure, he knew about sharks. And sure, we even grew to like him a little bit. And he did play "Little League," meaning he once had a little shark eat his little boat when he was a little kid. But Quint--this dude was the man. He's got a thousand shark jaws on his wall, all done without the help of that scientific equipment Hooper bought. (With inherited money.) And we all remember, when they were out at sea, when Quint said it was a shark, and Hooper tried to tell Quint his business, and was proven wrong, and couldn't admit it.

But Jere, didn't Quint die in the end? Yeah, but while Hooper survived by swimming away, Quint died with his boots on, going right into the shark's mouth.

Lester goes nose to nose with the shark tonight.

Speaking of people who confuse fantasy with reality, I noticed recently that every time I clicked a link that took me to RotoWorld, their little opinion-blurb about that player would be dead wrong. So I started going back through all their old blurbs. I found something interesting. Not only are they wrong all the time, but it seems a lot of fantasy people have been basically reading RotoWorld and repeating it. So this is where these people get these silly ideas, I thought. So, you'll be happy to know that the site says this about Lester:

"The Red Sox would then have to decide whether to keep him in the rotation or send him down and go with Kason Gabbard as a fifth starter. We're guessing they'll choose the latter. Lester hasn't been sharp enough for Pawtucket to suggest that he's ready to be a big asset for Boston."

Fine. AAA numbers are everything, right? Pithing in the bigs after coming back from cancer mean nothing? This is the guy we've been banking on to be our fifth starter for quite some time. And they say he's ready now. That's why he's up. This kid's gonna be all right. The thing is, he could do really well, and the fantasy people will find some stat that says he's no good, and don't take him for your fake team or whatever. The rest of us will look at him with our eyes, as well as his numbers, to judge. (And if he ends up out of the rotation, it'll only be because Gabbo is doing that good right now.)

And I have to say this every time I make fun of that fantasy faction: I love stats. Always have. It's one of the main things I love about baseball, and one of the things that makes it so much more fun to follow than any other game. When the games are over, you can spend even more time looking at boxscores than you did watching the games. And I was in fantasy leagues, starting when I was about 12. I found the ad in the back of The Sporting News and joined, then having packets come every week in the mail with all the updates on the teams and everything. People kept saying "I'll trade you Mattingly for Greenwell." But I wouldn't budge. This was my achilles heel in those leagues--I wouldn't pick any Yankees. Also, I refused to talk on the phone with strange men. I later started basketball and football leagues with my friends in high school, while the other kids were, I don't know, having sex or something, and I've always invented teams and uniforms and played all the dice games ever made, and invented plenty of my own. But after all that, when you're talking about real teams and the real humans on them, you have to realize that there's so much more to it than just numbers. You can't make Coco Crisp get a hit every time, simply by using my cousin Kara's dice rolling method of putting the dice in your palm with "1" facing up, and letting it slowly roll down to the floor, consistently producing a "6". I don't know, I'm down with the concept of "fantasy," but I think it should be kept separate from reality. The perfect example is Wily Mo. This guy, to fantasy people, is, like, the best there ever was. In fantasy leagues, women in black veils are shooting this guy in hotel rooms after he struck out the Whammer on three pitches. Yet I look at him and I see a flailing, bumbling, albeit lovable, fool.

Speaking of WMP AND Rotoworld, they mentioned that discussions had taken place between the Pirates and the Sox for a Torres - WMP swap. They provide a link to their source material, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. which produced this blurb about said swap:

The Boston Red Sox, the team seen as most interested in reliever Salomon Torres, is actively shopping enigmatic outfielder Wily Mo Pena.

Pena has exceptional power, with 66 career home runs at age 25, but is batting .202 and has struck out 12 times in his past 17 at-bats. He is making $1.8 million.

This is basically just connecting two dots which neither team had even leaked as connected, and certainly were only associated rather than connected in the Post-Gazette story.

That being said, I don't have a big problem with the method so long as people do their own homework, and they never declare a trade as being completed without confirmation. Nonetheless, disturbing, because you know some people were sure WMP was headed to Pittsburgh for a sub-par RHRP after reading the Rotoworld blurb.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States