Saturday, February 24, 2007


First, a great stat for you. Tiger Woods got knocked out of the match play event this week, thus ending his bid to break Byron Nelson's PGA record of 11 consecutive tournaments won (which, if I ever write that 'most unbreakable records in sports' post, will be prominently featured).

So Tiger's win streak ended at 'only' seven tournaments. Here's the stat: of the 63 other players in the match play tournament (who, by the way, are the #2-#64 ranked golfers in the world), only seven of them have more than seven career PGA Tour victories.

This is another reason why Tiger Woods pwns us all.

In a case of being careful about one wishes for, I have the first pick in an upcoming fantasy baseball draft. The obvious choice is Albert Pujols. He's generally acknowledged to be the best hitter in the league, Yahoo ranks him first in its preseason player rankings, basically every fantasy baseball magazine and online guide has him going first or second in their mock drafts.

Here's the problem: Pujols has a few red flags surrounding him. He missed 19 games last season, though since it was his first career stint on the DL and his numbers remained sick after his return, it's not a big problem. It remains to be seen how Pujols will respond to winning a World Series last season, since some guys lose the desire after winning a ring. Also, Pujols is kind of a dick. Nowhere near a Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, but over the last year, there has been an undercurrent of jerkiness to his behaviour. He whined about how he should've won the MVP award over Ryan Howard because Howard's team didn't make the playoffs --- awfully sour grapes from a guy who just won a World Series and, like, just won the MVP last season. During last year's playoffs, Pujols also opined that Tom Glavine, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, wasn't much of a pitcher.

Methinks that the universe may deal out some karma for this behaviour at some point, possibly in the form of a hamstring injury that never fully heals. I hate hamstring injuries -- they are death to a fantasy player. When one of your guys pulls a hammy, it invariably leads to 2-3 days of him being out of the lineup for observation, which hurts you since the guy isn't DL'ed yet, so you have to stick him on the bench. Then, there's the DL stint, which can last anywhere from two weeks (though it's almost always longer) to two months, followed by the athlete invariably needing at least a week to return to form, if at all. It's even worse if it's a speed guy who gets hurt, since that's a lot of valuable stolen bases down the drain.

Aside from this karma bullshit, there is another practical reason for not picking Pujols first overall. The way this league is set up, you have two catchers, one starter at each infield position plus a corner infielder and middle infielder, one utility spot and five outfielders. Ergo, whomever can amass the most quality outfielders usually wins, unless their pitching is just garbage. This makes me want to just grab as many outfielders as I can, perhaps even to the extent of spending my first 10 picks on nothing but OFs, catchers and pitchers and letting the chips fall where they may with the other positions.

The trouble here is, there is no outfielder I could take and definitively say that "Yes, this guy will have as good or better a season than Pujols." The only outfielder with a comparable ceiling is Soriano, but he's going into Chicago this season and that is always a crapshoot. Cubs history is filled with players who "should've" been great in Wrigley but fallen victim to the Cubbie Curse. The only pitcher who deserves the #1 spot ahead of Pujols is Johan Santana, but hitters give you more overall value than pitchers.

Having #1 in a baseball draft is often a curse. The last few years, A-Rod has been the consensus #1 in most leagues because of his great numbers and the fact that he's played at third base and shortstop, and it's a lot harder to find a great power hitter at those positions than at first or the outfield. But A-Rod's time has come and gone, though he's still an easy top-ten selection as long as your league doesn't count playoff stats. Drafting is easier in other fantasy sports. If you have the #1 pick in your fantasy football league and don't take a premier running back (in this case, LT), you're a stone-cold idiot. Sidney Crosby will be at the top of every NHL fantasy draft for at least the next decade. In basketball, you either take the best center in the league (since it's a scarce position), or one of the one-man-team guys like Kobe, LeBron or Arenas. If you play fantasy golf and don't take Tiger in as many eligible tournaments as possible, you're crazy. You may also have social problems because you're in a fantasy golf league --- in a related story, I've played fantasy golf for the last five years.

I can't believe I've written six paragraphs debating this when there's a 95 percent chance I'll take Pujols anyway, because he's done nothing but put up crazy Ted Williams numbers in his career. I'm overthinking this way too much. This is probably why, in this particular league, I've finished 14th and 16th out of 16 teams in two years. I'm the Pittsburgh Pirates of this league. How did I get a job writing about baseball, again?

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