“Who do you root for” 

As I set down most every evening, with my kids down for the night, I embark upon a grand adventure with the game of Baseball.   I have four fantasy teams that play in diverse leagues with different rules.  I currently have four Strat Leagues and a new one that I’m familiarizing myself with.  So in a few moments each evening I surf the net seeking out stats and news for what amounts to nearly 350 players.  Of course I have Baseball Tonight on or Sports Center tuned in, unless of course a ball game is on.  Of course with two TV’s, a radio and MLB on the Internet all within five feet of me, the options and permutations become staggering.  I have found that as I’ve expanded my horizons, I’ve become much more of a fan of the game, rather than of the players.  I do not even have a favorite player when I sit down and ponder it.  I no longer even have a least favorite player or even a group from which I’d have to narrow from, as men such as Sheffield, whom embodies everything I detest, as a fellow human being, just happens to be the one player in eight active leagues, that has single handedly kept me in the hunt, very nearly by himself.  I do not care if Bonds breaks McGwire’s record and would feel no great thrill if Bonds was surpassed by Sosa and fans everywhere would celebrate his choking.    Instead I seek out obscure lefty-righty combinations and wish that the Baseball Draft was televised, like in Football, so that I could get a good look at some insider information that may help one of these franchises in years to come.  I have no less than eighty baseball sites in my favorites out of only ninety-six.  I subscribe to six different publications to keep myself abreast of other opinions and information.  I anxiously await the coming of spring training, not because I wish to go see the games, not because it acts as a prelim for the season, but because it signals the release date for a litany of magazines that rank teams and gives out information for every team. 

In the same sense, the leagues that I’m in also have eliminated my interest in a variety of stats or at least skewed there real meaning, especially with regards to Strat.  Because at least in Fantasy ball runs, rbi, era, wins and saves mean something, but in Strat I could care less.  To illustrate this look at the following facts: Oswalt is universally considered a stud and Armas is having a bad season by most estimates and yet Armas Strat numbers are at least equal and his value would be a great deal more to most teams.  Oswalt is a dazzling 10-2 with a fine era of 3.13, but who cares; Armas is a mediocre 9-11 with an above average 3.74 era.  But I’ve learned through Strat these numbers mean nothing.  What matters to me is that Armas has given up 20 less hits than innings pitched and Oswalt is only 10 under.  Even more importantly is that Armas has done this while pitching 58 more innings and his presence in my rotation means that every five days I have a chance to win.  Armas also has given up less HR/Game, a stat that is of extreme importance in Strat, especially if you do not select Comerica as your home ballpark.  I will concede that Oswalts walks are much more attractive to his whip, but then again being around home plate that often will undoubtedly lead to Homeruns, aka the Brian Anderson effect.   So I ask you would you trade Armas straight up for Oswalt?  Or would the rookie holder have to sweeten the pot? Besides does anyone remember or currently own S. Elarton? Wouldn’t you say Oswalt is a clone of him?   For that matter wouldn’t you say that Armas mimics Vazquez?  Well anyway all the hoopla aside, its these decisions that bring my joy and fuel my fervor. 

The game itself and the numbers that define it are the crux of my affinity, not any player, as I’ve never met one that I wouldn’t trade or trade for, if I thought it would help.  In conclusion, I traded Oswalt for Armas on an equivalent (2A,4paid), a third round draft pick and a one-year rental of C. Counsel.  When Oswalt becomes R. Clemens or Armas blows out his arm, I will most certainly look like a stooge, but for me it’s the beauty of the transaction and the dealing with a fellow gamer.  Should Armas blow out his arm tomorrow, I’d still have a solid rotation spot for a year and a third-round pick from which the possibilities are endless.  If the pick is made poorly and the player never leaves the minors, I still get the joy of following him through the minors in his quest to reach the bigs.  But if he should never reach and Oswalt wins five Cy Youngs, think about the grand tale I can spin about the dumbest trade I ever made.  You see win or lose, fail or succeed, the joy comes from the effort and from the heart.