Memo to Ebbets Fielders: Do Not Celebrate Walk-Off Home Runs
The following activities are no longer permitted and will be subject to fines:
(1) Dog-piling hitters of walk-off home runs. The proper etiquette will henceforth be to compose thank you notes in the clubhouse. You are not to write the notes yourself—the risk of puncture wounds and lead poisoning is too great. A stenographer will be made available for your use. You are not to handle the notes in any way lest you be felled by a paper cut.
(2) Do not, under any circumstances, play in the vicinity of Jhonny Peralta. Should the need arise for Peralta to play third base, our infield configuration shall be as follows: Stand behind the concrete barrier we have erected in the far rightfield corner behind the armed guards. You may notice our outfielders there already. You can’t be too careful.
(3) These foods will be avoided because of their high quantity of oxalate: Rhubarb, spinach, beets, swiss chard and wheat germ. All have been known to hang out with unscrupulous metal ions, in particular, calcium. The following expression will no longer be tolerated in the dugout: He’s got stones.
The Ebbets Fielders Management reminds our players we have an obligation to our fans and more importantly our shareholders to minimize the risk of injury. Only less-risky behavior will be tolerated on the field. You are still permitted to run into walls, hang out with Canadian doctors and eat from the concession stand behind third base where the hot dogs have been under a heat lamp since 1934. You may even block a baserunner in anticipation of a collision at home plate. Unless your name is Kelly Shoppach.
You know your fantasy baseball team is in trouble when you must point to J.D. Drew as the model for good health. Among my Ebbets Fielders in my American League-only roto league, Drew has the sixth-most at-bats.
But it’s not the injuries themselves that have been so aggravating, so I tell myself. It’s the nature of the injuries. My team, two years in the making in a keeper league, has endured a series of mishaps I simply couldn’t anticipate:
(1) Mike Cameron had played at least 140 games in 10 of the past 12 seasons. While I knew he had a string tendency to strikeouts and low batting averages, his health, even at age 37, was not a big concern. Then again, I never consulted a urologist. Damn those kidney stones.
(2) Asdrubal Cabrera normally plays shortstop but was on the first-base side of second base in a defensive shift when Hank Blalock hit a ball up the middle. Cabrera made a diving stop, no doubt the picture of grace, when Peralta, all 210 pounds of him, decided he couldn’t stop his own momentum any other way than to find a gentle landing spot for his considerable girth, namely Cabrera’s left arm.
(3) I really thought Cabrera was the low point when it came to unforeseen injuries. Then Kendry Morales‘ teammates did to him what Cuba could not: Disable the slugger. It may have only taken Peralta to take out Cabrera, but Morales is a bigger man so it took his entire team celebrating at home plate. Morales leaped through the mob and landed awkwardly on the one hard surface between him and the dugout. No, not Mike Scioscia‘s head. Home plate.
After the Morales mishap, Scioscia’s issued an edict not unlike mine: “It’s happened before in baseball. It’s not going to happen again here. We need to do a better job than to get hurt in a dogpile scenario celebrating a win.”
Asked the following day what his new guidelines were, Scioscia said, “Any other way than the way we did yesterday.”
There’s not much you can do as a fantasy owner to avoid the unexpected. I entered this season with a core of keepers who were all young and healthy, guys like Morales, Adam Lind, Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Wieters and Elvis Andrus. At our auction I mostly avoided injury risks, Drew being an exception. I had such a surplus of value among my keepers I could afford to play it safe.
I haven’t felt this unlucky since I was 16 and I bet the max in a friendly card game called acey-deucey whose object is two draw a card that falls between two cards already on the table. The best odds are when the cards on the table are an ace and a two and I got that hand twice in-a-row, something that happens once over 2,500 times or so. The odds of losing one such hand is 12%, the odds of losing both 1.4% or just slightly more than my odds at the time of me landing a date with the opposite sex rather than a night of poker with the boys. I overcame those odds, with acey-deucey that is, losing both hands. I eventually overcame the odds with the opposite sex too, though it would take another 12 years to convince one to marry me.
I don’t have 12 years to wait for my luck to even out in fantasy baseball. I had what I thought was the best team in my league, and even with the injuries to Shoppach, Cameron and Cabrera, I was in first place and still the marginal favorite. Morales may be a game-changer.
I’m not hanging the cleats just yet. Cameron is back, Shoppach will be soon and Cabrera will likely return after the all-star break—I hate that word: Make that the all-star intermission. But my primary league is suddenly more challenging and complex. A week ago all I really wanted was another starting pitcher and I had some excess starters and prospects to rope in someone good. Morales’ loss, likely until September, hurts me in three of four categories in our old-fashioned 4×4 league. I may have to bite the bullet on pitching, hope Max Scherzer is truly rejuvenated, and go after a hitter instead.
This alone I know: If me teams manages to win, come October, I will keep celebrations to a minimum.