Zachary closes the book on the career of the most interesting player he ever covered.
My favorite baseball player informed the world of his retirement yesterday, if I’m allowed to say that sort of thing and keep my BBWAA card. Lance Berkman had all the qualities of a favorite player before I started covering the game, when I was allowed to have a real favorite. He was a personality. He played on really good and interesting teams. He was a saber-appreciated player given his skill set. He hit left-handed. (OK, he nominally switch-hit, but really, he hit left-handed.)
But I didn’t really have favorites when I was just a fan, and so my favorite players were the ones who were fun to talk with as a reporter, and Berkman was absolutely that. I didn’t have the pleasure of covering him for long—I started covering the Astros something resembling full-time in 2010, the year it all started going bad and he was traded to the Yankees. But he was without a doubt the most interesting and outspoken ballplayer—on topics from drugs to the state of his or any other franchise to Bud Selig—I’ve ever dealt with. He had the best grasp of the business of baseball and his role as a player in that business. And the fact that he was pleasant never hurt and won’t hurt when Hall of Fame ballots are due in five years.
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These players might not get the attention paid to top prospects, but that doesn't mean they can't help your fantasy team next year.
Three years ago, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg charmed America in the buddy/cop comedy “The Other Guys.” Ferrell’s fish-out-of-water routine combined with Wahlberg’s exasperated tough-guy act was something that had never been seen before in the annals of cinema, and the on-screen result of the unlikely pairing was cinematic gold.
In fantasy baseball, and particularly in keeper leagues, analysts always take a look at the hot prospects down on the farm that are getting called up for the first time in September. This is useful from a knowledge perspective, but from a decision making standpoint often isn’t very helpful. Xander Bogaerts is a keep at $10 next year if he makes the Red Sox out of camp; even if he’s on the bench, it’s likely he’ll be kept for the anticipated rewards down the road.
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It’s July, and that means another All-Star Game, one which—we might as well get this out of the way now—won’t be as exciting as those wonderful old All-Star Games when important things happened, like Ted Williams breaking his elbow and Dizzy Dean breaking a toe (Williams said he was never the same hitter; Dean destroyed his arm with altered mechanics) and Ray Fosse getting run over because damn it, Pete Rose just had to win an exhibition game.
(It is at times like these that I like to recall Mickey Mantle’s immortal words on the subject of Rose: “If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete, I’d wear a dress.”)