TRUM: Opening Day


The terrific writer Thomas Boswell has a book called "Why time begins on Opening Day." It's really a great book of essays, but more than that, I have always loved the title.

Mostly because it's true. Football will always be the most popular fantasy sport, and I've always had a special place in my heart for fantasy basketball, but there is nothing quite as magical as Opening Day, for baseball and for fantasy.

Maybe because it's a game of numbers based on a game of numbers. Maybe it's because it was the first fantasy game I ever heard of or played, having read the original "Rotisserie League Baseball" book back in 1983 as written by the founding fathers of our game. Or maybe because there's nothing better in this world than waking up to (or going online for) box scores.

We're working on a newfangled template thingy for this blog, which will explain that TRUM stands for Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless information and Musings. But until we do, I'll keep reminding you.

I put in a fairly big bid on Todd Walker in the AL Tout Wars league tonight. You see, that league is crazy deep (12 teams, 29-man rosters, AL-only), and a guy like Walker has value, especially considering he qualifies at 1B, 2B and 3B. Released by San Diego, he's been claimed by the A's, who are hurting so much that they are, well, signing the likes of Todd Walker.

My guess is he plays three to four times a week, filling in all over the place, and hits for a decent average with just a little pop. He has no speed, and he's gonna have to beat out Travis Buck, the talented rookie who is going to start in RF for the A's today (Swisher moves to 1B).

Buck gets on base (.376 OBP in Double-A last year, .400 the year before in Class A), but he doesn't have a lot of power, with just seven homers in the last two seasons. He had nine steals in 50 games last year, but Oakland never runs, so it doesn't matter. In short, you'll hear "hot rookie" and be excited, but temper expectations. This is a case of a better real-life player than fantasy player.

So, from the "pat myself on the back" department, this was in the March 26 TRUM:

"Potential closers segment; I wasn't able to get to David Riske in K.C., who has 16 career saves and is a nice flier in AL-only leagues -- count me among the Octavio Dotel nonbelievers."

Now, today comes this story from the Kansas City Star.

If you don't feel like clicking, suffice it to say Dotel has a slight strain in his left oblique, and if he can't go for the start of the season, David Riske will serve as closer. Dotel says he'll be ready by the start of the season. I'm not convinced.

Tim's boardroom scene on "The Apprentice" was brutal to watch, and here's why: It's not just that he got fired or that the reason was because he was all money-eyed over some girl. It's that the girl is ... Nicole. Is it me or does she come off as some shrewish, insane egomaniac? I think I'm on fairly safe ground here -- takes one to know one -- and the way she was screaming "it's Nicole time" and that this is her time to shine were disgusting. In fact, the more I think about it, Trump should bring Tim back to fire him again just for hooking up with her.

For the past three years during the baseball season, the TRUM has been comprised of looking through the box scores, but today, I will say that the one thing that jumped out at me about this box score was this list:

Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright.

Those are the five guys hitting in front of Moises Alou, who continues to get no love. Seen him available in a lot of mixed leagues. Seriously, look at those five names again, and tell me Alou isn't going to have 100 RBI this year.

One more thing I found interesting was Yadier Molina batting fifth between Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds. For NL-only players who need a catcher, Molina becomes a lot more interesting hitting in the five hole than down at the bottom. And if Tony La Russa trusts him, why can't you?

Lotta e-mails came in -- I'll get to them tomorrow, as I'm moving today. Finally getting an apartment in Connecticut and moving out of the hotel. It's a whole thing...

I do, however, want to share one e-mail because I thought it was funny, and since we talked about the founding fathers at the top, I thought I'd introduce you guys to Steve Wulf, owner of the Wulfgang and one of the league owners profiled in the original "Rotisserie League Baseball" book. He's one of the founding fathers and he's also a big shot at ESPN The Magazine. Anyway, he's been really supportive of ESPN Fantasy and, as you might imagine, we trade e-mails every so often. He wrote me this today:

Here's a fantasy story for you: My oldest son Bo plays club baseball at Wake Forest, and because he had a doubleheader, he asked his younger brother John, a high school junior, to take his place in his fantasy draft today. John was doing fine until the fifth round when he touched the wrong button and drafted Mike Piazza instead of Joe Nathan. He immediately appealed to the rest of the league but was told "tough."

He's feeling terrible as it is, when his brother calls in the middle of his real game. "You what?!" After a few curses, he says, "I'm up at bat now. Don't screw up any more picks." Three minutes later he calls back. "That was quick," I say. "Yeah," he says, "I was so mad that I just went deep, opposite field."

Mike Piazza doesn't know it, but he hit a home run today. Wulf

Matthew Berry, the Talented Mr. Roto, is the senior director of fantasy games. Cyberstalk the TMR at TalentedMrRoto@aol.com