Breaking Balls: Making fantasy baseball even more fantastic
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In this modern world with all of the advances we have made as a society, one area that continues to fall quite short of civility is the acceptance of differences among people. While certainly some strides have been made, intolerance is still quite rampant.
Sure, it’s not quite 1930′s Germany-level intolerance, but the differences between individuals continues to be a source of prejudice – whether it’s skin color, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, truthers, bathers, book learners or even Team Jacob vs. Team Edward. You’ll even see intolerated people turning around and intolerating others with a deranged “two wrongs make a right” mentality that only leads to further intolerance.
In the world of sports, obviously fans of different teams are like this, but it is also just as rampant among fans of the same team – whether it’s new fans vs. old fans or affluent fans vs. lower-income fans or quiet fans vs. obnoxious fans. And in baseball, there is even prejudice over how the game is tracked with the advanced statistics guys taking a beating from “old-school” guys who are the “true fans” and who use the “eye test” and the “fear factor” instead of numbers. Though probably none of these old-school guys would want their accountants using the “eye test” and the “fear factor” when they are doing tax returns because that’s a pretty quick trip to prison.
In recent years, fantasy baseball has been mostly released from the tyranny of “true fans” and has gained a pretty broad acceptance. Maybe this is because fantasy baseball uses statistics that are generally considered archaic to the new stat guys. Or maybe it’s because of the popularity of fantasy football – which owes a lot of its popularity to gambling – and, after all, isn’t gambling what fantasy sports really are?
Whatever the reason or reasons, most people don’t consider fantasy baseball very nerdy anymore. And what I’m about to do here in this column is dump all that nerd progress in the nerd toilet. I can feel you all mentally asking, “How can one man in an ergonomic chair do such a far-reaching, devastating thing?”
Easy. Because I’m going to show you how to build an excellent fantasy baseball team using The Lord of the Rings.
I’ll give you a few seconds to let that settle in. Yeah, that’s right. I’m going full-nerd on this one – smashing fantasy baseball with the fantasy world of Middle Earth. Maybe this is what John Lennon meant when he named that one album “Double Fantasy.”
If you haven’t seen The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy or you don’t know much about fantasy baseball, don’t worry! I’m kind of an expert in both of these “fantasy” worlds, and I will be carefully walking you through this. Also it’s very important to keep in mind that this is all mostly gibberish.
In the first movie, you may recall there was “the Fellowship of the Ring,” which was charged with the task of returning the “one ring” to the fiery bowels of Mt. Doom. There were nine individuals in the fellowship and there are nine men on a baseball field! You see how this was destined to be, right?
I’m going to compare characters in the story with relative values of players in fantasy baseball in order to build a properly balanced team. I commend both of you who have continued to read further. Maybe we can get together later and play some Dungeons & Dragons.
He starts off all mysterious-like and then … OMG! … he’s the heir to the throne of the kingdom of men. He’s also a fighter, a healer, a romancer and a pretty darn good singer. This is the guy you want leading your squad.
Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Kemp. These guys are the best of the best and provide a ton of value in almost every offensive category. Never pick a pitcher this early because they’re more likely to get injured and, these days, there are a lot of almost-as-good pitchers around.
You are probably wondering whether I mean Gandalf the Gray or Gandalf the White. Or you have no idea what that sentence could possibly mean. Let’s go with “the White” – not because baseball has a history of racism, but because Gandalf the White was a lot more bad-ass. This guy is the crafty veteran with loads of skill that will help your team.
David Wright, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw. If you’re picking offense here like I would, you’re getting a player who could carry your team for a week or two as well as help your team maintain numbers throughout the season. You can make a top-level pitcher be your Gandalf. There’s some comfort in having one of these guys all season, but maybe wait for the next round.
Yeah, the dwarf. I know you elves-enthusiasts will insist that Legolas belongs here but then the dwarves would come at me at they’re a lot more difficult to deal with – because of their low center of gravity. This guy is your power guy.
Giancarlo Stanton, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion. No pitchers, just power dudes – home runs and RBIs. It’s always kind of surprising in a draft when the home run guys disappear. Last place in your league can be given at the beginning of your season to the guy who thinks he can “find some power hitters later” – you can find stolen bases and pitching, but only rarely does extra power come along.
Legolas and Gimli had this weird sort of “bond” and wind up spending the rest of their lives together in the books– I think we can assume someplace other than California. As an elf, Legolas was exceptional at a few very specific skills but was lacking in other areas – which made Orlando Bloom a perfect fit because, while he was good at being handsome, he went on to other movies and proved that he was not very good at things like “looking like you’re just a normal guy who doesn’t think he’s the most handsome man on the planet.”
Bryce Harper, Adam Jones, Starlin Castro, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke. If you don’t have a pitcher yet, it’s time to make one your Legolas, and see how good the pitchers still are? Sure you do. I’d much rather have a combo of Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke than Justin Verlander and Adam Jones. Oh, another thing. Don’t pick an inury-prone guy here. Yes, elves heal faster than men and live longer, but the player you pick here is not actually going to be an elf – not unless David Eckstein comes out of retirement. An injured player at this level is a difficult thing from to recover from.
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