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Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Updated: March 27, 10:09 AM ET
TRUM: I've been everywhere, man


Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless information and Musings for Wednesday, March 26, 2008.

Manny: I enjoy the podcasts, really. With that said, it's easier (and I generally prefer) to read your insights. As time-consuming as it is to do the podcast, couldn't you go back to writing more? I really miss the TRUM, and while I read and understood your explanation why it couldn't continue as it was, you seriously need to write more. I can't listen to the podcast at work, can't take it to the bathroom (heh), etc. Repeating myself for the last time … you are a writer first. Remember that, buddy. Keep up the good work, though.

Pat: Have you retired from the glamorous life, sipping mai tais on your private island? Just wondering when we will again hear your nuggets of wisdom on current sports like the NBA or upcoming baseball. This from a fan from your RW days! Thanks.


Where the hell have you been?

I keep getting that question. Other questions I get a lot, incidentally, include "How far do you let Albert Pujols drop?" "How can I get into the Man's League on your and Nate's podcast?" and, one awkward morning, "Who are you?"

All will be answered along with many other fantasy baseball questions, but the best question is one that hasn't been asked yet. Where the hell haven't I been? Since I was last able to get a TRUM published (not counting mid-March's mailbag), I've been all over.

And for those who hate me already, it's probably best not to read the following list. It's only going to anger you. Actually, what do I care about the haters? Glad to hack them off. Hope a bunch of Rockies fans are reading. But seriously, it's just been ridiculous. Even I hate myself a little.

Matthew Berry
Hanging out with Gina Lynn and Travis Knight.
It started in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, which also coincided with the Adult Video News Awards. I went back to Los Angeles, my hometown, for my first vacation in more than a year. I was in Las Vegas for Jeff Ma's birthday party. I was in Phoenix for the Super Bowl and our Fantasy Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I was in Las Vegas for our Fantasy NASCAR kick-off party. I was in Denver for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference, where I spoke. I was in New York City on the "One Life to Live" soap opera set and the "Endless Drama" shoot. While in New York, I somehow found myself at Gina Lynn's birthday party. I was supposed to go to New Orleans for the NBA All-Star Game, but I was so sick (physically) from all the travel, I had to cancel.

I was in Costa Rica for a friend's wedding. I was back in New York City for the book launch party of "The Fug Awards." Those of you who used to read me on TalentedMrRoto.com probably remember Heather Cocks, a wonderfully brilliant writer. She also has a phenomenally successful Web site called "GoFugYourself.com," where they make fun of celebrities who can't dress themselves, and they have a really funny book out now. Then I was in Orlando for ESPN The Weekend. Then Boston for the premiere of "21," which is based on the life of my friend Jeff Ma (it's good; go see it), then Las Vegas one more time for our Fantasy First Pitch Draft Party.

Love me the Vegas, in case you can't tell.

Lots of good stories, a few crazy chicks, some very surreal moments and tons of good fantasy baseball nuggets along the way provide the meat for today's TRUM sandwich.

So here now, in chronological order, are some of the highlights of the past six weeks of my life.

Vegas

Stayed at the Mirage. Was there for CES and some meeting, plus the technical Emmy Awards, where our Mobile MVP application was up for an award. We lost to Bravo To Go or some such. I had nothing to do with the MVP application, so I can say this was an insane loss. The MVP streams live, pitch-by-pitch, from baseball games! Bravo's will text you workout tips. So I was bummed for my friends and colleagues, because they deserved to win. And then, the Bravo people got up to give their acceptance speech. I swear I am not making this up. "I want to recognize the other nominees who had a lot bigger budgets and more employees. It was our hard work and creativity that made us the best!"

Who talks trash from the acceptance stage? We all were like, "Are you serious? Did she just call us out? What happened to being gracious?" I might or might not have purposely stepped on her foot on the dance floor at the party later.

I love the randomness of Vegas. At the Venetian, I was at a blackjack table with two other people: the senior vice president in charge of marketing for one of the two largest fast-food chains, and actress Morgan Reigns.

Got the hookup at Fix and later at The Bank at the Bellagio, got to cut in line at Tao at the Venetian, and had a guy proudly ask me to check out his wife's chest because I correctly answered the question "Hey, you're Matthew Berry, right?"

When you meet someone at the AVN convention, chances are they will give you their business card. Which is interesting, because chances are they are naked on the card. It's really odd, and I'm very glad it's a practice we don't have in the fantasy sports industry.

Los Angeles

Matthew Berry
I've always thought they should call it the Mattyhorn. Don't worry, nobody else finds that funny, either.
It was good to see my brother, my old friends and actual sunshine. Went to Disneyland with the Ex-Mrs. Roto. We're still friends, which is nice, and we both love Disneyland. What can I say? I'm a company man. We had a great time at the park. And then argued all the way home. Sigh. It's still a little weird.

Speaking of weird, I'm not taking Pujols until late in the third round, and here's why. First, if you have read me for any amount of time at all, you know I'm averse to taking risks in the early rounds. There's a chance the Cardinals could shut him down if they fall out of the race. Last year, Pujols hit 32 home runs and had 103 RBIs. And I'd much rather take a guy like Mark Teixeira or Lance Berkman, both of whom hit that well last year, have hit 40 in the past (as Pujols has), and come much cheaper and with less risk. Before you go nuts on the conversation pages, I'm not saying Tex or Berkman is better than Pujols. I'm saying that for their value and where you can draft them, they are better bets than Pujols this year. Currently, Pujols' average draft position on ESPN.com is 10th. Tex is 23rd, and Berkman is 30th. Now, neither guy will hit for as high an average as Pujols, but both will hit for a good average and neither has the injury concern.

Super Bowl

It was pretty cool. As many know, I'm not a big Patriots fan, so I was thrilled with the result. And getting to see the game in person? Great experience.

I also was out there for our Fantasy Hall of Fame induction ceremony and got to talk to our inductees. Some interesting stuff, actually, including a great story about fantasy from Brandon Marshall.

Other athlete interviews: Derek Anderson, Earnest Graham and Justin Fargas.

In addition, I made it to some parties and ended up at a bunch of them with Jemele Hill.

A few quick thoughts from Super Bowl week:

In addition to the party Jemele mentions in her column, I went to the EA Sports party, the ESPN The Magazine party and the Playboy party. I actually had the most fun at the ESPN party, probably because I knew the most people there, as opposed to the Playboy party, where I was not in the VIP area with Jemele.

I'll say this about one of the parties, however. It's rare that I actually have game, but on this particular night, I did. Because it wasn't just that my buddy and I convinced three newfound friends to leave the party with us to play Madden, but we convinced them to come do it at the Embassy Suites, where ESPN put me up. That, gentle readers, is a feat.

The dinner Bill Simmons references in the podcast we did together included the two of us getting into an argument and a bet regarding Adrian Peterson of the Vikings.

Bill has All Day as his No. 1 running back next year. I have him at four. I have LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook and Joseph Addai ahead of him, and here's why:

  1. He is injury prone; he missed games this year and in college.
  2. For such a huge contributor, he was fairly inconsistent. He had single-digit fantasy points in four of his final six games. (Of course, he had more than 20 points in the other two games, hence his high ranking.)
  3. The Vikings still don't have a quarterback. Which is the essence of our bet, incidentally. Bill believes they will get a new quarterback. I bet that, barring injury, Tarvaris Jackson will be their starting quarterback in Week 1. Not that I think he should be. But the Vikings seem to believe it.

I have a very funny story involving "Radio Row," but I'll have to save it for a podcast or video. It's much better told than written.

There's not much to tell about Denver, where I went to a fantasy sports conference. I mean, it was Denver in February with a bunch of guys in the fantasy sports industry. What do you expect? Wild stories? And I'll just say I had a very nice time at the wedding in Costa Rica.

The trips to Orlando and Vegas (again) were much more fruitful, especially in terms of fantasy. Both kinds. Seriously, I love Vegas.

Orlando

I was there for ESPN The Weekend, and I got to sit down with a bunch of the athletes who were there for the festivities. Here's a bunch of stuff I learned:

Matthew Berry
Gratuitous Guitar Hero shot!
Pretty much all major league baseball players play fantasy football. Some, like John Smoltz, Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann are hard-core into it.

Tony Gonzalez told me he spoke to new Chiefs offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, and they will be targeting him in the red zone a lot more next year.

Amani Toomer believes the Giants will be more pass-oriented in the new season with Eli Manning's postseason success. Toomer had 21 receptions for 280 yards and three touchdowns in the postseason.

Benjamin Watson says the Patriots' game plan changes from week to week and they attack whatever they see on film. Some weeks, he will stay in and block; other weeks, they will target him a lot. In other words, he is an inconsistent fantasy player.

Tim Hudson is making a conscious effort not to strike out folks. As he gets older and wiser, he is letting his defense work for him. He has been below the 150 strikeout mark the past four years, and he expects that to continue. The result is that last season, he had more wins, a lower ERA and more innings pitched than any other season in the past four years. Expect double-digit wins, about a 3.75 ERA and sub-150 strikeouts.

I've written about my conversation with Jeff Francoeur before, but suffice to say, he's going to have a big year.

Brian McCann actually recognized me, which was weird. He plays fantasy all the time and was like, "Hey, Matthew Berry, you're the fantasy dude." There's something wrong with America when Brian McCann recognizes me, you know? Anyway, McCann told me the reason he struggled all last year was that he didn't do a bunch during the offseason and never could get into a rhythm during the year. This offseason, he said, he went back to working out on a regular schedule, working on his hitting, etc. He feels much more prepared for the season. Big year in store for McCann, who, during an "off year" last season, still had almost 100 RBIs.

I asked Tom Glavine over/under 4.00 on his own ERA this year. He took the over.

Carlos Lee told me he went from 19 steals in 2006 to 10 in 2007 because the Astros didn't want him to run and risk injury. He still will steal a few when he can pick his spots, but that wasn't a fluke. He's concentrating on hitting this year, and we shouldn't expect double-digit steals from him. However, you can expect 30 and 100 from him. He has had at least 30 home runs in five straight years and at least 100 RBIs in four of his past five years.

Vegas, again

Matthew Berry
Giving the people what they want at the Las Vegas ESPN Zone. No, not free nachos. The other thing they want.
Did the event at the ESPN Zone at the New York, New York casino. Matt Williams, the former All-Star third baseman, was there. He now is a part owner of the Diamondbacks and spends a lot of time with them. Quickly, his thoughts were: Chris Young will not hit for average this year. Justin Upton will steal at least 20 bags. Mark Reynolds is legit. Williams believes in Brandon Lyon as the closer. Micah Owings is going to be the fifth starter, and Williams agrees with me that he's in for a big year. Randy Johnson is healthy.

I also got hooked up. (Again.) Got a sweet shave at the Kim VO Salon at the Mirage. Then Stephania Bell and I (and our respective dates) had a lot of fun at AGO, a new dining hot spot at the Hard Rock Casino. Do the kids still call them hot spots?

But the craziness really started late Friday night when 15 of us from the ESPN Zone event walked right into PURE nightclub at Caesars Palace. OK, you know how, like, you watch rock videos, and every girl in them is ridiculously good looking and wearing next to nothing, and you're like, yeah, this only happens in rock videos?

Well, my friends, next time you can change that to "rock videos and PURE." It was insane. We got bottle service and a table on the roof overlooking the Strip and had just an amazing view. The city was pretty, as well. I'm sure they gave us all this because they wanted me to write about it, not because I'm anyone important, but (hands up!) is anyone surprised I can be bought? Exactly.

I was in New York City this past weekend for Tout Wars, and now that I'm done with that, my life gets a little more normal. That was my last big thing, and now hopefully I can get on a normal writing schedule.

Thanks for asking.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a multiple award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He has been playing fantasy sports for more than 20 years, writing about it professionally for more than 10. He currently appears on or in ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN the Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN Mobile TV and, as soon as he learns to say "ground-ball/fly-ball ratio" in Spanish, ESPN Deportes.

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