HumorMarch 7, 2008

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Behind in the Count #2

By Toby Mergler

Welcome back to Behind in the Count. Now that the introduction to the column’s premise is out of the way, I need to give everyone the background on the primary league in which I will be playing. I’m not such a newb that I don’t understand that various formats and point systems can dramatically change the advice you give someone (A lesson lost among the Giuliani campaign, Zing!), therefore I hope you’ll stick with me as I go quickly through the rules. I know it’s asking a lot, but starting next week I promise to focus less on details and more on entertainment. The six to seven of you that stick with me will be rewarded with literally seconds of quality reading each week.

As a prior warning, this league is a bit unconventional. It is mainly composed of the same guys from my fantasy football league and is split between avid fantasy baseballers and guys who haven’t played before, but know the game pretty well. Most people in the league at least played ball into high school and some went on to play in college. Everyone could tell you who won the last couple World Series, but only a few could tell you who led the league in steals last year.

When discussing starting a fantasy baseball league, it became painfully obvious that two common hurdles must be overcome for the league to thrive. First, like me, my friends have a very short attention span. Talking to us can often be like listening to a radio on scan. There is a new subject seemingly every five seconds until someone finally stabs at the radio to stop when a familiar track like Sultans of Swing or The Thong Song is heard, causing people to focus for a moment (topics such as football, breasts, and exactly how much Carlos Mencia sucks fit this description). Then it’s off and running again. For such a group, season long Roto scoring is not an attractive option. We need more immediate gratification and therefore decided to go with a head-to-head, points based format. This system has the added bonus of being fairly similar to standard fantasy football scoring, which made the task of playing against the experienced folks less daunting.

The other obstacle to overcome is the strange combination of success and laziness my friends exhibit. The success part means they all have jobs that place significant demands on their time. But even if they had plenty of free time, they are also so lazy that asking them to do too much daily maintenance would surely cause the league to fall apart. Given the combination, the decision was made to eliminate pitchers from our league. I know that might be a bit controversial, but it beats reaching mid-May and discovering the league has more dead wood than the cast of Queer Eye at a strip club.

In the end we settled on the following format. 12 teams, Mixed-league, 10 scoring positions – 1 each at C, 1B, 2B, SS, and 3B, 4 OF’s, and 1 Utility (to allow for DH’s if desired). Point earned as following:

1B 1
2B 2
3B 3
HR 5
BB 1
R 1
SAC 0.5
SB 1.5
CS -0.5
K -1

So there you go. That’s the background, now I need advice. The draft is this Sunday, so I don’t have a lot of time. It’s a standard snake draft and I have the #2 pick. I’ve read all the sites and looked at the stats, but I’d love to hear from you guys, especially regarding how you think this scoring system changes conventional wisdom, my top pick, sleepers, and desirable mid-round picks. Please email me at the link below or post in the article discussion thread (linked below as well) with your advice. Also, if you are curious, I’ve done an Excel spreadsheet charting last year’s results using this formula. If you email me, I’ll be happy to pass along the top performers. How’s that for a weak, self-interested, pathetic attempt at an incentive? Not bad, I’d say.

While I’m groveling, let me add this. I fear that playing in this unconventional league will lessen the interest among many of you who play a more pure version of the game. With that in mind, I would love to play in a more traditional league. If you have a spot open in either a home league (near DC a plus) or a league on this site, please let me know. I’m open to buy-in or play for pride leagues. As long as you don’t mind a newb and don’t object to me writing about my failings in this column, I’m your guy.

Finally, thank you for everyone who emailed me or posted on the message board providing support. It really means a lot to me and is necessary for this format to work. Before I go, let me answer my first question. Snakes Gould asked me why I picked a site I’ve never been on before to write a weekly column. It’s a great question, with a less than great answer. Simply put, the Cafe was kind enough to give me the opportunity and the format of the site (active forums, friendly community) seemed perfect for what I was trying to accomplish. I hope you all will accept me into your little corner of the internet. In exchange, I’ll do my best to bring a smile to your faces for 5-10 minutes each week. Seems like a fair trade. Much fairer than the Ryan Howard for Frank Thomas trade I’m destined to make sometime this year. Here’s how I imagine the negotiation going.

Experienced owner (“EO”): Hey man, got a trade proposal for you
Me: Tee it up.
EO: Tee it up?
Me: Yeah, that’s right.
EO: Who are you, Tin Cup?
Me: Whatever dude, now let the big dog eat.
EO: You sound like a jerkoff. Anyways, I’ve been shopping Frank Thomas around, and I assumed you would be interested.
Me: Why would you think that?
EO: Well, you already have Bonds, Griffey, and Julio Franco, who comes with a side of menopause, on your team. I thought you might want to complete the set.
Me: Go on.
EO: Well, Thomas is going to leave a big hole in my lineup. I think Howard would be fair value in return.
Me: Who is this Howard you speak of? Do I have HoJo on my team? That’s awesome.
EO: Um, Ryan Howard? He was your first round pick dude.
Me: Oh yeah. I tend to banish painful events from my memory, like this draft or the time I hung out with the ‘86 Mets and Dykstra mistook me for a transvestite. I found out why they called him “Nails” in a most unpleasant fashion.
Me: TMI?
EO [condescendingly]: Too much information.
Me: Now who’s the jerkoff?
EO: So, do we have a deal or not?
Me: Well, he did have an extremely sweet Stadium Club card.
EO: Yup.
Me: And I certainly never found a hologram of this Ryan Howard guy’s head at the bottom of a Slurpee cup like I did with good ole Frank.
EO: Sure didn’t.
Me: And my high school girlfriend’s nickname was the Big Hurt, that’s got to be a good omen. She hit a lot of homers.
EO: Gross.
Me: I don’t see how I don’t do this, it can’t fail. Let’s do it.

So there you go, please save me from myself by advising away. I’ll be back next Tuesday with a recap of my draft. I’ll be live-blogging it so you can make fun of me every step of the way. Should be good times.

Toby Mergler is a new member of Fantasy Cafe. Before stumbling into the Cafe, he has previously wrote for humor sites Nicefire and The Sports Court. He hopes to have more success here, which won't be hard since both of the other sites have gone dark. Toby can be reached by email at and can be found on the forums posting under the name heyrook_nicepiece.
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