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Friday 22nd Sep 2017

Assorted Rants, Rumblings and Ruminations from the Mind of a “So-Called” Expert

On Tuesday evening, the League of Alternative Baseball Reality, better known as LABR, held their 2014 Mixed League online draft. Fifteen teams gathered in the RTSports draft room and banged out 435 picks. I've been lucky enough to play in the league since its inception in 2012. Here are the participants with the draft order:

1. Todd Zola, Mastersball
2. Craig Glaser/Bradley Ankrom, Bloomberg Sports
3. Ray Murphy, Baseball HQ
4. Bobby Colton, Rotowire
5. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY Sports
6. Tim Heaney, KFFL
7. Bret Sayre/Mike Gianella, Baseball Prospectus
8. Rudy Gamble/Grey Albright, Razzball
9. Mike Podhorzer, Fangraphs
10. Doug Anderson, DFS Edge
11. James Quintong, ESPN
12. Fred Zinkie, MLB.com
13. Jake Ciely, RotoExperts
14. Jason Collette/Paul Sporer, Towers of Power podcast
15. Jeff Erickson, Rotowire

I was bestowed with the first pick as randomly selected by LABR head honcho and USA Today Senior Editor Steve Gardner who broke the news to me as he was enjoying some fresh lobster that was anonymously delivered to his door. Last month, my partner-in-crime Lawr and I also had the luck of the draft as we began the defense of our Fantasy Sports Association championship with the first pick, Then, as well as on Tuesday, the first pick was....

1.01 Mike Trout - maybe if Miguel Cabrera didn't get hurt at the end of last season there would be more of a debate, and I realize Trout is susceptible to injury with his all out style of play but the 5-category production is too good to pass up. I still don't think we have an accurate read on Trout's baseline, especially batting average. Lost in last season's numbers was an improved his contact rate. I still think there's going to be some give-back with respect to BABIP but we don't know where that will settle in tandem with his contact. The combo should still put him in the .300 neighborhood and that's an awful nice neighborhood to be in. Now I have to wait 28 picks until I draft...

2.15 Dustin Pedroia - not my typical selection this early as I prefer to focus more on counting stats and let batting average fall where it may but Jason Kipnis, who I have slotted (along with Robinson Cano) together on my draft board was selected four picks earlier by the esteemed Mr. Gardner. Pedroia hurt his hand on Opening Day last season which likely influenced his paucity of power so I'm hoping for a little better production than last season to add to the batting average buffer. Owning Pedroia will allow me to absorb some low batting average players later. It's funny, I'm not at all a scarcity drafter but if you don't know me, you may assume I am after picking....

3.01 Jose Reyes - with my next choice. It just happened this pair of middle infielders was atop my draft board. The fact that they fill what is perceived to be scarce positions is secondary. I caught some flack for Reyes from those who prefer a more risk averse selection so early, but it has been my experience that the third round is wrought with risk and if I'm going to take a swing, it's going to be for the fences. I felt the same way last season - if Reyes can stay healthy, he's going to be a monster in Toronto. Big if, I know, but sometimes the upside reward is worth the downside risk. The only issue I have is I am low on power which I addressed with....

4.15 Mark Trumbo - you can take your ADP and stick it up your...OK, family web site.... While I understand that on occasion an ADP can help you time your picks to maximize potential, what is most integral is selecting players that add intrinsic value to your team relative to what is expected from that pick number. Along those lines, what if I picked Jay Bruce here? Considering he went to Rotowire's Bobby Colton way back in the second round, some would say I got a steal here. Now what if I told you I think Trumbo is going to have a better year than Bruce? If you promise to finish reading this before clicking, here's why I say that. Now that my power and speed is in better balance, it's time to address starting pitching which is why I then chose....

5.01 Aroldis Chapman - huh? Don't worry, I know he's not starting. Here's the deal. What I do is determine a target ERA and WHIP for my first seven pitchers figuring I use the last two spots to play the match-up game. I map out a few different pathways to achieve that goal. Prior to my 5.01 pick, there was a huge run on starting pitching, stripping me of couple of the avenues leading to the desired ratios. I have a Plan B and Plan C that both involve using the top tier closers since those at the top end can influence ERA and WHIP. Pairing a top closer with a third tier starting pitcher yields the same stats as a second tier starting pitcher and second tier closer. This is the tact I chose, figuring to wait until the next turn and pair him with someone like....

6.15 David Robertson - huh redux? Now I'm playing a game of chicken. I looked at the board and the composition of my competitors and decided that there will be some viable starting pitchers for me at the next turn and if I'm lucky, I may even push the panic button of my industry brethren and instigate a bit of a closer run, which in turn helps push starting pitching down to me. Plus, one of the pitfalls of being at the wheel is being caught at the wrong end of a run like I was with second tier pitching. This way I don't have to worry about missing the inevitable closer runs that occur in every draft. For what it's worth, I don't subscribe to the ploy of not paying for saves. I went back and reviewed the rosters of the previous Mixed LABR champions as well as the winners of Mixed Tout Wars and the victors all secured saves during the draft or auction. If it's good enough for the champions, it's good enough for me. Since I was waiting further on starting pitching, it enabled me to pick up....

7.01 Carlos Beltran - Again, ADP, Shmee Dee Pee. I'm the elder statesman of this league, pretty sure I'm the only member on the plus side of 50. While all the young kids are riding around town in their brand new Myers, Hamiltons and Harpers, I'll get where I need to go with my old and reliable Beltran. Sure, it may break down on occasion but when running, it purrs like a kitten. The kids probably think I overpaid, but I don't think they know just how well my Beltran has run the past few years and I'm perfectly happy since I know I'm getting more than I paid for. Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope...

8.15 Kris Medlen - is still available. Yahtzee! The gambit worked perfectly. I have Medlen on top of my SP3 tier so along with Chapman, I have the equivalent of a solid SP2 plus a good closer. Not only that, I am able to pair Robertson with...

9.01 James Shields - and sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. I mentioned the target ERA and WHIP. One of the cautions of not getting a top starting pitcher is being devoid of that 200-K base from which to build. This is partially mitigated via the high whiff total of both Chapman and Robertson, but adding Shields completely absolves me of the concern and could even put me ahead of the game with respect to strikeouts. By means of comparison, the starting pitchers I could have selected in lieu of the closers were Zack Greinke, Mat Latos, Mike Minor, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman. These are all fine arms and can help any fantasy staff but are they that different than Medlen and Shields? I think not. Of course, one can contend that I didn't need to invest such high draft picks on the closers and I would still have this pair to anchor my staff, but there's no way of telling what may have transpired if I went in another direction. It's all revisionist history. Plus, the second part of the story is whether I am able to take advantage of the closer runs by picking a guy that slides, like...

10.15 Wilson Ramos - There are eleven catchers I consider worthy of my first catcher spot (lest I eschew catching all together). Since I picked Shields, twelve pitchers (including five closers) came off the board which helped insure there was still a receiver I favored on the board. I almost got real lucky as Matt Wieters was sliding but he was snagged by Ray Murphy of Baseball HQ two picks before my turn. I had the average to buffer Wieters and would have liked the 20-something dingers but Ramos is a fine consolation prize. As was pointed out by the Hall-of-Fame duo of Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf while chatting with them during the draft on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports radio, my team was pretty balanced in terms of positions and stats so I was free to stay the course and "choose, don't chase" which is my credo in drafts. As such, my next pick was....

11.01 Doug Fister - At this point, my pitching stats were exactly as they would be had I embarked on my usual tact of a couple of SP2 and CL2 so in essence I am back on track to build the rest of my staff as usual. Fister is my ideal SP3. Steady, stable and although he doesn't possess a stellar K/9, he makes up for it with a ton of innings so the raw strikeouts are there. I suddenly don't mind having a staff devoid of Chris Sale or Felix Hernandez. The thing is, though, I'm falling behind in hitting, but it is a trading league which is why I took...

12.15 Drew Smyly - When you don't believe in ADP, there's no such thing as too early, so long as the player provides what is expected from the draft spot and I believe Smyly will prove worthy of this lofty slotting. Plus, if you don't know I have a thing for Smyly, you're not paying attention. I passed on several players that I favor earlier because even though I like them and knew I wouldn't get them next time around, the potential return on investment relative to other players still on the board wasn't worth it. But not with Smyly. We're at the point of the draft where the variance associated with projecting player performance renders about 30 players equal. For me, Smyly was in that group of 30 so the potential return on investment was commensurate with other available players. So much to the consternation of the Twitterverse, and despite already being pitcher heavy, I pulled the trigger. But this was nothing compared to when I chose...

13.01 Tony Cingrani - Simply put, in a vacuum, I felt Cingrani offered the best potential return on investment of any player on the board. If this was a no-trade league I would not have gone this route but I am confident that I'll be able to flip some pitching for help elsewhere if necessary. But suffice it to say I had pretty much given back any plaudits received by the on-line followers after sticking to my guns earlier and snagging Medlen and Shields. This pair of picks was rightfully questioned, but I feel big picture they will help me to win the league. You see, I'm not interested in winning the draft; my goal is higher. But drafting two more arms put me in a serious hole at the hot corner which I attempted to address via....

14.15 Kelly Johnson - It will take a few games, but Johnson will attain third base eligibility and should be good for 20-plus homers as ARod's replacement. I have the batting average buffer so that's covered. And if I can find another third baseman, Johnson can play middle which is why I went with...

15.01 Will Middlebrooks - This was my most uncomfortable pick of the evening, perhaps even more so because I live just outside of Boston and still don't have a feel for Middlebrooks, either in terms of his baseline production or role with the team. But it is the 15th round so chasing upside is fine. Plus, he has a smoking hot girlfriend which segues perfectly into a crush of mine that I can actually get, you know, in a platonic fantasy baseball bromance sort of way....

16.15 Corey Kluber - If you aren't playing attention regarding my favor for Smyly, you're living under a rock if you don't know to keep your dirty, filthy hands off my Kluber. Just look at the peripherals and the second half and you'll know why. But yeah, more pitching which means I need to take some fliers on the likes of....

17.01 Avisail Garcia - Full time job in a hitter's haven, I'll take it this late. Plus I need outfielders and they are thinning out a bit. Dang it, I can't think of a clever segue to....

18.15 Carlos Ruiz  - There were two bounce-back backstops I was eyeing, Ruiz and Alex Avila. I feel Ruiz has a higher floor (based on better contact) so less can go wrong. That is, worst case Ruiz doesn't hurt my batting average. I'm hoping for some of his pop to come back but I can live without it. Avila has a higher ceiling, but he can also be a power bust while sinking average. But now I'm down a little more power so I'll look for....

19.01 Adam LaRoche - to find his home run swing again. We're in the fungible portion so if LaRoche struggles, there will be someone on waivers so I'll roll the dice on 20-plus homers and turn to the outfield for....

20.15 Nick Markakis - Granted, Markakis is showing a slide in skills but he's not that old and should have a rebound in him. That said, he's never been a power source, but he does hit near the top of a decent lineup so I'll take that and look for pop from...

21.01 Matt Joyce - Most of what's left are low batting average regulars or lefty swinging platoon players that may not get as many plate appearances but their prowess against right-handed pitching makes up for it. Joyce should again see all the at bats against righties and sneak in some against southpaws. Sort of like...

22.15 Nate Schierholtz - Similar to Joyce, between the two I hope to get 40 dingers and I should have the average to buffer any collateral damage. So now all I have left to fill my roster is a starting pitcher and I like to go upside at this point so we'll throw a dart at...

23.01 Hector Santiago - nice peripherals but trouble staying healthy. Take Santiago out of the unforgiving Cell and put him in the kinder and gentler Angels Stadium and at worst I have a streaming option.

Mixed LABR uses a six-man reserve, allowing once-a-week activations from reserve. Perhaps more importantly, we have a separate DL. In leagues that combine the two, as the season progresses you're no doubt forced to tie up multiple reserve spots with injured players. However this isn't the case here. As such, I opted to be speculative, hoping get the proverbial lightning in a bottle, knowing I can still get the likes of Marco Scutaro and Chris Denorfia off waivers. Not needing to use a reserve spot for a hurt player means I can afford to sit on a prospect a little longer. Well, not physically sit on them. That would be weird.

Of all the picks, I was most uncomfortable with the Johnson/Middlebrooks turn so I decided to address that in reserve, loading up on middle infielders and third baseman, hoping to upgrade one or both spots. Remember, Johnson should qualify at both sooner than later. The first pick to pull this off was...

24.15 Brian Roberts - Hey, who knows? He's the starting second baseman for the Yankees and still has something in the tank. The concern is more the number of games than how well he plays so I'll take the chance he's good to go early and squeeze what I can out of him and hedge my bet with....

25.01 Chris Owings - The D-Backs have declared shortstop to be an open competition between Owings and Didi Gregorius. If Gregorius wins, I'll drop Owings, no big whoop. Now that I have that covered, I'll switch gears and look for a high upside arm in....

26.15 Burch Smith - knowing he's on other's radar as well. I've been on Smith since my first projections run in November when I sorted by K/9 and screeched, "WTF?!?!?!". I toned it down a bit but the kid misses bats. Factor in Petco and I'm more than happy to sit on...errr....stash Smith for a bit. You know, I'm still not 100 percent happy with the MI/3B situation, plus I can move Johnson to OF so why not further speculate with...

27.01 Nick Franklin - Seattle has to trade him, right? And if they don't I can hope....

28.15 Tommy La Stella - wins the 2B job in Atlanta. How confident can the Braves be in Dan Uggla? After all, they left him off their playoff roster in lieu of Elliot Johnson. And if La Stella doesn't win the job, maybe....

29.01 Maikel Franco - will. Franco is the long-term answer at the hot corner in Philadelphia; Cody Asche is just keeping it warm.

So that's it. Not a team I would take into a no-trade league like the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, but a team I am very comfortable taking into a league that features defending champion and my former FantasyBaseball.com colleague and present mlb.com blogger Fred Zinkie. The Champ has set the over/under for players staying on his team all season at nine.

I'm taking the under.

The full draft board is available HERE.

As always, please feel free to post questions, comments, criticisms below or better yet, on the forum where it is easier to get some dialogue going.

Hey there, long time, no see. Yeah, I popped by last Sunday but that was as a last-second pinch-hitter. It’s been awhile since I’ve been a main page contributor. In fact, it’s been too long.

But, for a change, the reason I’ve been MIA is on the good side of the good news/bad news axiom. In fact, there really is no bad news.

Here’s the deal. As many of you know, last spring I made the long overdue decision to make my hobby my vocation and I let it be known that I’m looking for freelance writing opportunities. I had already been doing contract work for ESPN and I soon added Baseball HQ, The Fantasy Alarm and DFSEdge to the ledger. The coup de gras was courtesy of my pal Mike Siano at MLB.com who hooked me up with MLB Advanced Media where I now serve as Social Media QA.

After receiving confirmation all of my gigs will be continuing for the 2014 season and adding Shandler Park to the roster, the transition was complete. I’m officially making my living as a writer/analyst/editor.

In fact, things are promising enough that I recently moved into my own place. Long-time readers are familiar with my plight, which resulted in taking up residence in my sister and brother-in-law’s basement for the past 24 months. Words can’t express how grateful I am for supporting family. Not to mention how helpful they were assisting with – make that doing most of the move.

So while I don’t have my bachelor’s dream pad of two washers and two dryers so I don’t need a bureau or a hamper, I have a great little place equipped with an office and exercise room.

OK, amid all this good news may be a bit of bad news. Conspicuously absent from my writing was this site you may have heard of called Mastersball. Yeah, I produced the Tout Wars and LABR FAAB reports and did the Roundtable for KFFL, but my presence here was lacking, save for the in-season content of the Platinum package.

On one hand, I was doing what I had to do. On the other, it bugged me that I was in essence ignoring the site I had poured so much blood, sweat and tears into the past 15 years.

Well, call it a resolution if you wish, but I vow to keep a regular presence on our main page, writing every Thursday. I won’t promise it will always be about baseball but you can expect something from me each and every Thursday.

Thanks for the indulgence. On behalf of the Mastersball staff, Happy New Year! May 2014 be filled good health and Yoo-Hoo showers!

In case you haven’t noticed, daily fantasy games are all the rage. Your friends here at Mastersball have joined the fray via our partnership with FanDuel. Today I’d like to share my personal views on the topic which will conclude with a rant sure to rustle the feathers of a few of my industry brethren.

Many old school roto-players frown upon the daily game, saying it’s basically gambling since there’s so much luck involved. On the surface I see their point. Really, who knows how a ballplayer will fare on any given night?

Several years ago, back when CBC/CDM were battling MLBAM and the MLBPA in court over the right to use player stats in fantasy games, this was a hot button topic at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association conferences. The crux of the argument was whether fantasy sports were a luck or skills based endeavor. I recall a down and dirty means of considering the question that was repeated yearly. If you pulled someone in off the street to compete in the activity and they had just as strong a chance at winning as everyone else, this was luck-based. If the same person were at a competitive disadvantage to others with some knowledge in the area, it was skill-based. This is not to say the outcome was not influenced by luck; just that some with some skill had a better chance to win.

That’s precisely how I view the daily fantasy games. I’d like to believe that if I pulled 100 people off the street who know nothing about baseball and explained to them the mechanism of choosing a FanDuel team (choose one player from each of these nine positions so that their total salary is $35K or less), my team would defeat over half of them every time. Heck, I believe that unless my squad totally tanks on a given night, I should skunk every one of them. But for the purpose of this discussion, if I consistently beat over half of them, that suggests there is an element of skill involved.

Due to the nature of a daily game, variance will influence the outcome more than in conventional rotisserie formats. Think of it this way. We are pretty sure that over the course of the season, Robinson Cano will hit .300 with 30 homers and 110 RBI. During the first half, he’ll probably hit in the neighborhood of .300 with approximately half of his HR and RBI. But, how sure are we that in any given month, he’ll hit .300-5 HR-22? That’s what he’ll average, but some months Cano will be above, and some below. By season’s end the numbers will be there, but the results will vary month to month. We’re already seeing variance by parsing the season into six segments; imagine the uncertainty when we slice it into 162 pieces. That’s what daily games are doing which is where the variance comes from.

But still, I contend someone with a superior foundation with respect to expected performance and a deeper understanding of how a player can increase his performance on a given night has a better chance of overcoming the variance than a person off the street. This is why I may be more tolerant of the daily games than other long-time rotisserie veterans. My ability to predict player performance and convert that to bang for the buck, even in a one day sample, should avail a competitive advantage over others that don’t posses similar skills.

As you are either likely aware of can imagine, with the proliferation of these daily games comes the need for strategic advice on how to excel at the format. I’m going to come right out and say it. The advice being doled out is fallacious and in a lot of instances, downright embarrassing.

The source of said advice varies from sites and individuals dedicated to daily games as well as conventional fantasy analysts bridging into the daily format. What pisses me off the most is that plain and simple, these people failed to do their homework and if they are being compensated in any form for this advice, they have failed to do their job. Maybe it’s because they are naïve to the work that is out there but that’s no excuse. If one is asked to serve as an authority on a subject, it is their obligation to do their due diligence and research what is out there with respect to knowledge and understanding. The failure to do so is just plain wrong -- and embarrassing.

Specifically, I am referring to the all too common means of using historical hitting and pitching matchups to identify strong plays on a given night. Regardless of the sample, how a batter has fared versus a pitcher is moot when considering how he will do the next time. Do the research:  It’s out there and you may be surprised at some of the luminaries you’ll find commenting on this subject and others, beginning with Bill James. And, while you might have false intuition on your side, I have some of the greatest sabermetric minds on mine. What is even more maddening is when the advice is tempered with “I know it’s a small sample, but...”. To quote a recent Tangotiger tweet: “Is it possible to follow "Small sample size" with the word "but" and not look foolish?”

No, it isn’t.

The other erroneous counsel being spewed in print and over the airwaves is riding hot streaks. As my friend Steve Moyer once wrote back when he was a columnist for Rotowire, “Who’s hot, who’s not, who cares.” Again, look it up. Perceived streaks, hot or cold are not predictive of future performance. But yet, on a daily basis, we are instructed to ride the hot streak of the Flavor of the Day.

Sigh.

I don’t know, maybe I should just keep my mouth shut. But, from a professional and academic perspective, the neglect on the part of those empowered to speak on the subject of daily games really frustrates me.

In full disclosure, I will soon have a platform to right some of what I perceive to be wrong. I’m already doing so on a weekly basis when I discuss my FanDuel submissions for their weekly promotional contests. To answer the question, yes, I am winning. Not every time, but I have built up a bankroll and presently have considerably more in my FanDuel account than when I started. But, I’ll save that discussion for another time. First I have some research to do.

Always remember, never forget. Never say always or never.

That’s one of my forum signatures. It’s also a general philosophy of mine that I’d like to think applies to more than just fantasy sports. I’m not a fan of absolutes without proof. Paying heed to anecdotal or intuitive absolutes may mean you miss out on an improbability. I’ll accept scientifically proven impossibilities. I won’t accept intuition. I’ve seen intuition come out on the short end too many times.

Always start your studs. There’s that word – ALWAYS.

In case you haven’t figured it out, this is a follow-up to Lawr’s missive from yesterday. Ultimately, we’re on the same page, so I wouldn’t call this a rebuttal, or even a counter-point. It’s more a left-brain approach that meshes with Lawr’s right-brain tendencies and the main reason we make a pretty mean team as evidenced by winning the 2013 Fantasy Trade Association Experts Baseball League and making it to the finals of the football counterpart, albeit the secondary league.

Always start your studs. Sorry, I just don’t buy it. Always start the players you feel will score the most points. That I can buy. And I’ll pay full price plus any applicable taxes.

Granted, more often than not, your studs will be the options that should score more - but not always.

Usually is not always and sometimes is not never. Part of what makes this fantasy stuff fun for me is living in the gray area. I like to take gray and make it black or white.

I expected Ryan Fitzpatrick to outscore Matt Ryan last weekend. We drafted Ryan in the fifth or sixth round, while we picked up Fitzpatrick on waivers to cover for Matty Ice’s bye week. When I went to set our lineup for the championship game, none of that mattered. All that mattered was my sense of their respective production last weekend.

Since Week 9, Fitzpatrick has averaged 20 points, while Matty Ice hadn’t even scored 20 since Week 7, averaging just 13 since Week 9. Fitzpatrick outpointed Ryan in four of the previous six weeks.

Fitzpatrick was playing the Jacksonville Jaguars, who at the time were allowing the third most points to opposing signal callers. The game was in Florida, so weather would not be an issue. The Jags have been playing better so I felt there could be some points scored by both teams.

Ryan had a Monday Night date with the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners were still in play-hard-to-win mode as seeding and bye weeks were unsettled. Going into the game, San Franciso’s defense was the third stingiest with respect to yielding quarterback points. Colin Kaepernick has been playing better but I didn’t envision a high-scoring affair.

I was wrong. Ryan had a better weekend than Fitzpatrick.

The Steven Jackson versus Ray Rice conundrum wasn’t as cut and dried but ultimately I agreed with Lawr and felt Rice was the call. For the record, we picked up S-Jax on waivers that week. One running back was going to be Rashad Jennings, the other either Rice or Jackson with Stevan Ridley and MJD as our other options. We could have played both RB and instead sat Emmanuel Sanders, Cordarrelle Patterson, Torrey Smith or Jordy Nelson, but I liked each of their match-ups and in a PPR league, preferred one as the flex.

Since Week 10, Jackson was averaging a little less than one point a game more than Rice. Both have been playing better lately though to his credit, Jackson had scored 16 or more for three of the previous four weeks. Talent-wise, it was a wash in my eyes.

Here’s the part that was difficult. Rice was facing the New England Patriots with Jackson squaring off against the Niners. Seems like a no-brainer, right? The San Fran D versus the Pats D – San Fran wins. The thing is, against the run, they were almost identical. What swung it for me was Rice is usually more involved in the passing game and New England has trouble checking opposing running backs.

I was wrong.

Again.

It wasn’t by much, but Jackson scored a TD which was the difference.

Of course, there was nothing Lawr nor I could do about the doughnut turned in by Vernon Davis or the single-digit games put up by our previously reliable wideouts. Stuff happens.

But I was perfectly good with the Fitz and Rice decisions, not losing a wink of shut-eye.

While on this topic, I may as well vent a little as some of the advice I have heard pertaining to fantasy football start ‘em/sit ‘em is driving me goofy.

This folds back into the notion of starting the player you feel will do the best, but on numerous occasions, I heard my advice-disseminating brethren suggest the decision should be based on “How would you feel all off-season if you benched so-and-so for a lesser player and he went off? You boogie who got you to the dance.” As Vin Scully would say – equine fertilizer.

You dance with the better dancer on that day. Who cares how you’d feel? The specific example that really got my craw was Drew Brees versus Andy Dalton. A caller to a radio show asked if playing Dalton over Brees last week was a good idea. The idea was unanimously shot down. Who cares that Brees was on the road against the tough Panther D. He’s Drew Brees! There’s no way you play him over the inconsistent Dalton even though Dalton had the hapless Minnesota Vikings trying to stop him and the elite A.J. Green. But the hosts pulled the “how much would it suck to have Brees throw 5 TD on your bench while Dalton struggled?” Well, how much DOES IT SUCK that Brees threw for a mediocre 281 yards with a touchdown while Dalton chucked for 366 with four touchdowns!

You play the guys you believe will score the most regardless of draft spot or how you’d feel if you lost with them on your bench.

Then you sleep like a baby.

The other advice that has me going bonkers is using numbers for the sake of using numbers – without any basis. It’s no secret that I’m a numbers guy. The NFBC has branded the language I speak as "numerish." But, some falsely believe that numerish is using numbers to make a decision. That’s almost correct but it neglects one incredibly important caveat. Numerish is the PROPER use of numbers to aid in a decision.

Because a wideout scored 2 touchdowns the last time he faced a team is not a reason to play him in the rematch. Because a team has allowed a touchdown to a tight end two of the past three weeks is not a reason to play a tight end against that team the following week.

Everything is contextual. What were the circumstances that led to the 2-TD explosion or tight ends succeeding as of late? Were they unique to that time or more a reflection of an exploitable weakness? Maybe the advice is right. My beef is the hand-waving supposition that because it happened once it will assuredly happen again without undertaking any due diligence to support the claim.

OK, someone get this soapbox out of here.

As I’ve mentioned before, while my fantasy baseball life is an open book (if you’re in my leagues and don’t know the players I like, you’re not doing your homework), I tend to keep my private life private. But, there have been occasions where writing about it has either been therapeutic or apropos since it transcended into my fantasy baseball life. Today it’s going to be a little of both.

For years I have been asked why I don’t make my living in fantasy baseball. My response was always the same and the honest truth – I loved science and I loved fantasy baseball, but my passion was science while my hobby was fantasy baseball. I loved my job and I loved my hobby. And while I was equally passionate about fantasy baseball, I was scared shitless that if I made my hobby my vocation, I’d loathe them both.

So, as many of you know but others may find surprising, I don’t do this for a living. By trade I am a Chemist. Beginning around age 22 and for the next 25 years, I spent almost every day in one laboratory or another. For the last three, I have spent almost every day trying to convince someone to hire me.

I did work for a short spell last year, doing temporary contract work for a local pharmaceutical from July through November. It was an entry-level position and wasn’t exactly what I was used to, but it was a foot in the door at a company where I hoped to transition into a permanent job more in line with my training, interest and experience. Unfortunately, things did not progress as planned and the contract was not renewed.

At this point, I pretty much knew what I had to do. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I realize this is a little corny, but having lost my Mom to cancer in 1992 and my Dad to Alzheimer’s in 2011, I felt I owed it to them to keep plugging away. I knew I wasn’t going to cure cancer or figure out how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but I felt I owed it to them to try. The irony is both my Mom and Dad would have had no problem if I transitioned into fantasy baseball writing. Oh, they’d give me plenty of shit for spending so long in grad school to end up writing about make-believe baseball, but they both would have been incredibly supportive – and proud.

So I spent the last several months continuing to look for a job in science. Then in March, after failing to land the last of three positions I had interviewed for in the past couple of months, I finally came to the realization it was time. I asked my managing partners Lawr and Brian if I could talk with them and broke the news – I was going to give up my search for a job in chemistry and instead figure out how to make a living doing this baseball thing. While I am paraphrasing a little, their response was “what took you so long?”

Now I am going public with my decision, letting you guys know my plans. I’m not sure how yet, but I’m in the process of figuring out how to make a living in fantasy baseball.

My primary objective is to grow Mastersball to a point where it can not only support my salary, but others as well. That’s going to take a lot of work, but I’ve poured over 15 years of blood, sweat and tears into the site and would like to see it manifest into something special. Up until this point, there was a critical mass we needed to be concerned with in terms of ability to support and produce content - as a hobby. But, this is now my job and it’s time to take the kid gloves off. I have no idea what that will entail, but it’s time to find out.

Since the site is not there yet, I need to find means to supplement my income, so soon you’ll see my name popping up in a couple of other places, along with continuing my freelance association with ESPN. If you live in Central Massachusetts, you may even see me behind a register at a convenience store or perhaps stocking shelves at Home Depot. Though, I am looking into some part-time teaching jobs as well.

Thanks for cyber-listening. As implied earlier, this was both personally therapeutic and apropos. By writing about it, it has helped me make further peace with the decision. I know it’s the right thing to do on a number of levels, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It was also important to me to convey the message that even though I may be contributing elsewhere, this is my home.

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