I have been a big Ervin Santana fan, going back a number of years. I traded for Erv in my Strat-O-Matic league three years ago, and it was there I began to appreciate a fourth starter of Santana's resume, not just in Strat, but in any deep league.
If you look to my pre-season Overvalued/Undervalued list at USAT, I gave Santana his props, and have him in at least three leagues. Needless to say, Erv's fantastic start has been great, not just for my teams, but there is no shame in suggesting a guy might be good, and then he is.
But, I did not know that Santana and Fernando Valenzuela are the only two pitchers in history to start eight games, and have at least six quality starts over which one run or less was scored. I learned this while watching the Twins on Wednesday as I looked forward to the surprisingly fun Minnesotans taking on the equally curious Rockies.
No sooner had the local broadcasters announced this stat--emphasizing the .129 BA and six total runs scored against Erv--a homer was hit, followed by a double, some more mischief, and suddenly it was the third inning and Erv was behind 3-0.
I have written about this phenomenon over the years it seems, that any time I watch my players, especially pitchers, it is the kiss of fantasy death. And, it happens every year. Just this year, early in the season, I turned on Sonny Gray, who was cruising into the third, but then allowed the archtypical walk, seeing eye single, questionable call ground out that was called safe, a double to the gap, and then home run, all with two outs. So, instead of quietly going into the fourth inning with maybe a run allowed, my ERA and WHIP appear to have taken a Barry Bonds supply of steroids, adding five each of hits and runs, all of which occurred as soon as I turned the game on.
But, as a corollary, on nights when I cannot watch, like last Friday when my band was playing, I do better, confirming the hex my viewing holds over my players. For, last Friday, I finish a strong fifth in the Tout Daily, and won the Mastersball Daily, and climbed a spot in the Tout standings while cranking out rockabilly.
Now, a rational mind might ask, "Are there not games where you have no shares in any players?" The answer, thanks to the formats of AL and NL-only, Mixed, Scoresheet, Strat-O-Matic tossed in a salad with DFS dressing is, "No." And, of course, this plague is not limited to baseball, as in I take personal responsibility for all of Jay Cutler's career picks, but since baseball is a six times a week game, there are simply more opportunities for the infliction of pain.
Some of the issue is that I love watching baseball (and listening on the car radio, I confess), so it is hard to turn off. And, even if I do, I was raised by Eastern European Jews, so that no matter what I do, I feel guilty. Meaning, if I skulk to a different channel to hide behind Mariska Hargitay's skirts in "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit," I know I am letting my readers down by not judiciously watching every swing of every pitch.
What compounds the issue is baseball is such a voodoo oriented game when it comes to superstitions and streaks and winning and losing. We need look no further than Crash Davis' moving "Always respect the streak" speech from "Bull Durham" to confirm this. And, we all know how taboo it is to simply think "no-hitter" when one is in process.
However, the issue is again "What to do?" The best I can do is coin the word #fanticide (which can double as a hashtag), which is defined as:
"Turning on the TV to watch your players, who are performing well. However, as soon as the game is turned on, your players implode. Either your pitcher gives up a two-run bomb, or your batter hits into a double play."
That is #fanticide. It doesn't just kill me softly, it kills my team as well.
Holler at me @lawrmichaels.