I have returned from my long absence on Fake Teams, an absence noticed by only me … and maybe boss-of-Fake-Teams Ray? Maybe. The rest of y’all had no idea I was gone. Regardless, what up, good to see you.
My triumphant return just coincidentally happens to coincide with the release of my novel, After Life. It’s getting real, y’all. I’m going to dive in on a little plot summary here, with some book promo stuff, because the heck with you, I have the space. I’ll have some sports talk after that, because, you know, sports site.
The novel is the story of the second zombie outbreak. Set in the year 2030, the world is populated by two kinds of people: The survivors of the 2010 outbreak, who learned how to kill and/or outlast the undead, and their children, who have grown up hearing of zombies like they are the boogeyman. Just like the children born after major world event, they don’t treat the fears with the reverence their parents do.
The main characters are Andy Ehrens and his daughter Celia. It’s move-in day for Celia at college in Hyannis, Mass., and she, her father and a group of students and adults are together when, of course, the zombies return. Hours away, in Stamford, the stepmother of one of Celia’s classmates and her friend make it their mission to get to the stepdaughter. Over the course of the book, the two groups gradually draw closer together while looking for a place to hide from the zombies.
Over the course of about 36 hours, there is religion, parent-child bonding, teen romance, technology and, of course, fighting against zombies. It’s what you’d expect from zombie fiction, but it’s also quality (you know, if I say so myself) fiction in its own right; it doesn’t depend on "Aaaah, zombies" to be worth a read.
On to the sports (and not-sports, because I have thoughts). Back again, it's the Kelley Blowout:
(Before I go too far, let me just say that the "millennial," as a concept, is fictional. They’re people. Every single generation has had voices saying every single subsequent generation is a blight. But every generation is fine. Stop saying millennials are bad. Stop thinking you can classify them at all.)
I think last year spoiled us way too much. Yeah, Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant and Francisco Lindor and Noah Syndergaard. Young players were awesome. It had us all scouring prospect lists and looking for new guys to stash. 37 rookies were worth 1.0 OWAR or more last year; the 37th-highest OWAR for a rookie is Chad Kuhl’s 0.1 — and, you know, he’s a pitcher. Yes, rookies often come up later and thus accrue more second-half WAR, but the point is clear.
On top of that, look at some of those interest rookies from last year. Randal Grichuk and Delino DeShields and Michael Conforto combined for 5.3 OWAR in 2015, and they’ve all been back to the minors. Ketel Marte has seen his OPS+ fall off 34 points, from 112 to 78. Billy Burns’ OPS+ was 102 in 2015; it’s 57 in 2016. James McCann only had an 88 OPS+ last year, but even he has bottomed out, at 57 now.
Rookies are fun. They’re shiny, new, special. Little Christmas presents. But the little secret is a whole lot of Christmas presents suck. You say thank you and try your best to enjoy them, but soon enough you move on. Nomar Mazara’s monthly OPS has gone .852, .809, .681, .568. Tyler White’s was .814, .670, .322, oops-I’m-in-the-minors-now. We haven’t talked about Jose Berrios in a while, because sad face.
Yes, 2015 was great for rookies. But the simple truth is that, even in the new world of aging curves, the line still goes up to start. Maybe it isn’t a bell-curve path, but guys have to get better before they peak.
Alex Bregman might be around soon. Alex Reyes too. Heck, even Yulieski Gurriel. Orlando Arcia, Trea Turner, J.P. Crawford, Joey Gallo. They’re all super fun, tantalizing Christmas presents. And if you’re in a redraft league, they’re as likely to crash and burn as they are to become Carlos Correa. More likely.
If you’re sitting around the Christmas tree as a kid and your little brother offers you his still-wrapped present for two dollars, well heck, that present could be anything. Done and done. If he unwraps it, and it’s socks, and he offers you the deal again, that’s a different story. The same is true of fantasy rookies. They’re great to have on your roster while you wait. But they’re even better to trade away before you unwrap them. Their value will never be higher.
Do what makes you happy, but c’mon
I’m so torn on Pokemon Go. I am adamant that it bagging on something that someone else enjoys just because, what, you don’t get it, is one of our worst habits. Let someone watch The Big Bang Theory or eat Olive Garden or listen to Nickelback if it makes them happy. It’s hard enough to be happy without someone criticizing you for doing it on your own time.
On the other hand, my fiancée, Laurie, is a restaurant manager at a reasonably upper-end seafood place in town that sits on a little lake. Apparently, water features are great in Pokemon, so this has led to dozens upon dozens of people in and around the restaurant playing the game. People wearing headphones bump into guests. One person wandered into the kitchen. Laurie’s restaurant has had to ban the game from the restaurant.
Do what you like. Always. But come on. There’s got to be a middle ground on this stuff.
Hey, let’s play gotcha
So as soon as that tenor changed "O, Canada" before the All-Star Game, this was a no-win situation. Anyone who criticized the guy would hear about it from the All Lives Matter folks. Anyone who agreed with it would hear it from the Black Lives Matter side. Writers who covered it would be criticized for their coverage; writers who ignored it would be called out for ignoring a story.
All that is to say nothing of the rightness or wrongness of the dude’s statement. (Okay, no, let’s discuss that – of course all lives matter, and obviously that misses the point of Black Lives Matter, and it’s so bleeding stupid that that has to be explained to anyone, and screw you, dumb tenor man.) There was no way to come off looking good. But damned if Sporting News’ Jesse Spector didn’t choose the worst possible route. Spector went to Michael Saunders — a Blue Jay and a Canadian — and asked his opinion of the anthem. Apparently Saunders didn’t notice the change, and when he was told of it, he spoke in support of All Lives Matter, but did so in a vague, "well sure all lives matter" sense, with a strong indication he wasn’t familiar with the movement. Fine.
Spector’s piece? It was headlined "Jays’ Michael Saunders supports singer’s ‘All Lives Matter’ message." And that’s just a joke. Yes, in the body of the piece, Spector explains that Saunders likely didn’t really know the movement, that he wasn’t literally supporting ALM. But people read headlines. A lot of people read only the headlines.
Spector defended himself on Facebook, saying, among other things, that it would have been irresponsible journalism not to ask Saunders about it. If you accept that (I don’t, not really, but I acknowledge that can be a point for discussion), that in no way says that Spector has to write a whole piece about it. If Saunders comes out and says "No, man, that’s wrong. Let’s talk about BLM," sure, that’s a piece. But his answer was basically "Sure, that message sounds good, but I don’t know the movement." That’s not an article. At most, it’s a couple lines late in another article about the anthem at large. There absolutely shouldn’t be an entire "Saunders reacts" article (since his reaction was nothing), and there even more shouldn’t be that inflammatory headline.
And this sucks. Saunders has worked for years to stay healthy and productive enough to make an All-Star team, and he finally does it, playing for a Canadian team. Yet if you google him right now, every one of the news results is variants of this story, with Spector’s ranking high. He trapped Saunders with a question and used it for clicks. We all do that to one degree or another, but that was way beyond the pale. I hated it.
That ghost is such a camera hog
This photo from near my home went semi-viral this week:
It’s being shared as a thing that "proves" souls are real, because the driver in this accident died, and oh look, that must be his soul leaving his body. Angels and ghosts and souls and all that stuff.
And look, I am not a religious person. I have comments in that regard, but that’s not helping anything. But here’s what I do say: Imagine that’s right. The soul does leave the body like that, and we could a picture of it. How is it possible, in all the deaths since we’ve had recording equipment, that that is the only one that we’ve caught on camera? This ghost forgot his invisibility cloak? That’s where the whole thing falls apart. That’s an interesting trick of the light, sure. We ain’t seein’ a spirit there.
The All-Star nonsense
Y’all know by now that I love me some Eric Hosmer. So it just hurts me to say this. But in the last 30 days, he’s hit .248/.299/.330, a 68 wRC+. With his dodgy fielding this year and negative baserunning value, Hosmer has been worth -0.6 rWAR in that time. He made his first All-Star team this year and won the MVP, but he’s actually only been … meh.
Meanwhile, Miguel Cabrera is bordering on a .300/.400/.500 season. Chris Davis has 22 home runs. Carlos Santana, Edwin Encarnacion, Joe Mauer, even C.J. Cron have been worth more WAR than Hosmer. Yet he was an All-Star. That was for three reasons: First, he’s a Royal, which means rabid fans voting for their team just because. Second, he’s a Royal, which means he was just on the front of everybody’s mind in the World Series. And third, Hosmer started awesomely. A month and change into the season (through the first game of a doubleheader May 18), he was hitting .336/.398/.568 with eight home runs.
That’s silly. Hosmer is good. Hosmer isn’t in the upper tier of first basemen. But because so many people decide "All-Star" equals "good first two months" for no real reason, the Hosmers and the like are All-Star starters. Come on, guys. Surely you can see how gibberish that is.
Everything is so commercial
Sometime between the advent of cell phones and the total immolation of landlines, phone companies tried the smart-home-phone. "Make the phone do stuff!" they said, even while keeping it (literally or metaphorically) tethered to the home. It was … let’s say short-sighted.
But this was one of the first smart-home-phone ads, and the hell with this family. Like, okay, mom uses her phone to learn to make paella. Cool. And she lets her family know paella is coming. Also good. But her son not only refuses to eat it, he swears an oath never to do so, and he sends it as a video message? That son is a devil spawn. He’s the spiritual precursor to Larry.
And the mother. The correct answer when your teenager says "I’m not eating it. Ever," is to laugh at the kid and watch him gradually get so hungry that it’s eat the food or collapse in on himself like a dying star. The correct answer is not making an "Oh, you" face and ordering a pizza. My parents were hideously lenient with me, and even they would have laughed at me.
Tweet of the week
Domino's is looking to hire someone with 45 grade power. pic.twitter.com/BS6LNi4ggC— Tyler Stafford (@tylercstafford) July 16, 2016
A joke with a painfully limited audience about a sign that would draw no comment from 99.9 percent of viewers? This is my target market, y’all.