I have a local friend who is a great baseball fan. His name is Tony. Both of us played College baseball. We played together on a softball team for many years. I went on to follow baseball through fantasy. He watches baseball and roots for the Cardinals, but generally, just watches baseball.
For many years, I've tried to tell Tony how fantasy baseball works. He had little interest.
I got a call from Tony. He wanted me to come over and watch baseball. What was interesting is, that he wanted to learn fantasy baseball while watching baseball.
I told him one game or one night of baseball could never do fantasy baseball, justice.
But, I'd try.
We were set to watch the Dodgers and Pirates.
"Do the teams matter? Do you care who wins?" Tony questioned.
"The teams matter if you have players on those teams. Let's say that I have Betts, Urias, Jansen on the Dodgers and Keller and Adam Frazier for the Pirates."
"Wait, you can have both pitchers?"
I told him that we could have both pitchers. "Of course, I would have Keller on my bench. He's not that good of a pitcher and the Dodgers are a tough team for any pitcher except Eric Lauer." I told him it was a little of inside joke as Lauer kills the Dodgers.
"So, you can bench somebody?"
I told him we can bench seven of our 30 players.
"Ok, so Mookie is leading off, what are the top three things you want Mookie to do?"
1. Hit a home run
2. Hit a single, steal second, steal third, and score.
3. Hit a single, steal second, and score.
"Isn't a double or triple better than a single?"
"In real baseball or for a different fantasy game, sure, but for us, the home run and stolen base are the holy grails."
Mookie hit a home run.
"Why aren't you really happy right now? Your number one thing happened."
"It's a long season. In June, we're more content than happy about a homer."
"Do you root against the players you do not have?"
"Not really. We never feel bad if we don't have a top pitcher and that pitcher gets bombed. But at this stage, we don't have a certain fantasy team we're rooting against. Heck, we may feel bad later that that top pitcher we didn't feel badly about may have hurt an adversary of ours in September.
"How can a player you don't even own help you?"
"Let's say that Bieber gets torched. He doesn't play for my team who is in first place in September or for the second place team.
BUT, it could make the team that owns him drop in the standings and my closest comp passes him in both ERA and WHIP. He gains two points in the standings while his own players didn't do a darned thing!"
"Ok, now your pitcher, Urias, is facing your hitter, Frazier. Who do you root for?"
I always root for my pitcher. Always. At least until September when offensive categories may be more important than pitching.
My reckoning is that hitters will always hit again tomorrow or the next day. If a hitter goes 0-4, I can recover easily.
If my pitcher gets bombed, its a tough nut to recover.
Lets say that Frazier goes 3-3 with a homer against Urias. Urias throws four innings and gives up seven runs.
Frazier's stats look good and they're appreciated.
As for Urias, I would have to have two other pitchers throw seven innings of shutout baseball, just to get my ERA back to 3.50 to cover for Urias bad outing."
"So, you want Urias to throw a perfect game"
"Sure, a perfect game would be awesome. But, no pitcher has ever thrown a perfect fantasy game.
27 up, 27 struck out"
The game went on with a lot of 'what if' questions. I answered them as best as I could....
"Does defense come into play? Does HBP count against WHIP?" Blah blah blah.
"Ok, Frazier just got a hit, what are the three top things you want to happen now?
1. Frazier steals second, steals third and dies on third.
2. Frazier steals second and dies on second.
3. Urias strikes out the other hitters in the inning.
Urias is on his way to a Win....
Do you want your pitcher to throw the whole game?"
"Not always. Sometimes we can see our pitcher starting to get roughed up. We want the Win as much as the Manager wants the Win.
We want the Win at all cost.
Last night, I had Brad Hand throwing. He threw an inning and had his team score two runs. He was in line for the Win.
I did not want him to come out for a second inning. Hand isn't built for multiple innings.
But their Manager thinks he has to throw his best pitcher so he sends Hand back out. He gives up two runs.
Pissed me right off.
Fortunately, the Nats scored two more runs and Hand got the W anyway.
But, the point is, I did not want my pitcher to throw more innings."
By now, rain has come and the game will ultimately be called.
"What does this do to you?"
It robs Jansen of a chance for a Save, but probably wouldn't be used anyway since he'd thrown the last two days.
It may have robbed me of a Mookie at bat and a Frazier at bat for sure, but I'm ok with it in large part because it guarantees a Win for Urias."
I asked him if he knew more than before.
"Wow, you guys think in such a warped way! You must hate those Managers that pull pitchers before the fifth inning is over!"
"You have no idea"
"So, do you think you'd ever be interested?"
"To tell the truth, I'd want to watch a few more games with you. I think there is still a lot I need to learn."
"Heck Tony, I've been playing half my life and I still feel like I learn stuff each day." "But, I really enjoyed watching a game and letting another baseball fan what we go through each game and each day."
"Man," he responded, what you guys do isn't easy!"
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