- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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If there was anything actually ironic in the Alanis Morissette song "Ironic," I would actually quote it.
Instead, I will merely point out that after a decade-long career in Hollywood, it wasn't until I moved to Bristol that I won an Emmy award.
This past Monday, "Fantasy Football Now" -- our Sunday morning show on ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile TV -- was awarded the Sports Emmy for Outstanding New Approach (Coverage) category. Here's why this is cool:
This is the first Emmy ever given to a fantasy sports program. It's yet another step in the "real world" recognizing the legitimacy of fantasy. It's also a victory for what we are trying to accomplish with ESPN fantasy overall, not just this specific show.
Look, I get the cool gig. I'm the one who gets to be on TV or in print or wherever, and I get most of whatever recognition there is. But what's great is that this recognizes many of the folks who worked crazy hours, gave up 17 straight weekends during the football season and went above and beyond to deliver the best possible content for our fans. It's also a real feather in the cap for my friends Anthony Mormile, Kieren Portley and Anthony Spadacenta, who work for ESPN Mobile TV and ESPN.com Video Production; they produced the whole thing. Nate Ravitz, incidentally, was the unsung hero of the show from the content team.
Anyway, there are way too many folks to mention and thank, but all of them much more important than I. As you can see from the photo, I handled the whole thing with the dignity you'd expect. And as my good friend Greg Erb put it in an e-mail that was circulating among my closest friends: "Congratulations Matt! I knew in my heart that all your hard work making fun of random pop culture would one day pay off with you winning an unpublicized award in an Emmy category no one knew existed."
Working the wire
Here are some players who have recently seen a spike in value and may be available in your league.
Jeff Clement, C, Mariners: Well, he might be a catcher. That was his primary position in the minors, and he'll play there some for Seattle. He played a few games at DH last year in the majors and none at catcher, so check your league's eligibility rules. Regardless, three things are true: He'll qualify at catcher eventually. He can flat-out hit, as he was batting .397 with five home runs and 20 RBIs when he was recalled. And finally: I don't care how attractive someone is. After they've been married to John Daly, we're just friends, and that's it. That last one has nothing to do with Clement, but it doesn't make it any less true.
Wladimir Balentien, OF, Mariners: The "W" is pronounced like it's a "V." That's one of a few fun facts about Balentien. Here's another: Like Clement, he, too, can flat-out hit. He had six home runs and 20 RBIs when he was recalled, and he already has a home run in the majors after jacking one his first night up. He's not the equal of Clement in the batting eye department, and he was hitting only .254 in the minors when he was recalled, but he also has the better chance to play every day immediately.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Rangers: They call him "Salty," and I think it's because of his last name, not because he uses bad language or has a sharp taste when you lick him. He was the main prize in the Mark Teixeira trade, and the Rangers just recalled him to split time at catcher with Gerald Laird. While I wish he had the gig to himself, he's got greater upside in half a job than a lot of catchers have with a full-time gig. He was hitting .291 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 15 games when he was recalled earlier this week.
Darrell Rasner, P, Yankees: He was lights-out in the minors this year. The dude had an ERA and WHIP better than 1.00 and had 27 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched. And with Phil Hughes going on the DL, Rasner now joins the rotation. He's not pitching for the Yankees of old, but he's not pitching for the Royals either, ya dig?
Clint Barmes, 2B-SS, Rockies: I've mentioned him before, but with Troy Tulowitzki going down, he's worth mentioning again. He used to be good. Like in 2005 when he hit 10 home runs, stole six bases and hit .280 in 350 at-bats. And now he's hitting again. He has two home runs and nine RBIs and is hitting .292 in 19 games.
From the obvious name department
Here are some guys who have also recently seen a spike in value and may be available in more shallow leagues or leagues where you play with idiots.
Max Scherzer, P, Diamondbacks: It feels a bit weird to put a guy who hasn't even started a game yet on the obvious name list, but that's where we are with Scherzer. He was lights-out in the minors (with a crazy 38 strikeouts and only three walks in just 23 innings) and then was dominant in his first relief appearance for the Diamondbacks. He's joining the rotation on Monday, and he's not leaving.
Juan Pierre, OF, Dodgers: I'm not surprised that Pierre has seven stolen bases on the year already. He's stolen at least 45 bases the last five years. But I am surprised that he is still available in over 60 percent of ESPN.com standard mixed leagues.
Jose Guillen, OF, Royals: Guillen has struggled this past month, no question, but that's to be expected. In 2007, he hit .239 in April with only two homers. He finished with 23 home runs and a .290 average.
Mike Cameron, OF, Brewers: Another outfielder who never gets any respect is Cameron. He came back from suspension earlier this week, and he's had at least 18 home runs in eight of the past nine years and at least 17 steals in 10 of the past 11.
Eric Hinske, OF-1B, Rays: I'm putting Hinske here not because he's a big name but because I keep mentioning him every week. And he keeps hitting. Now up to six home runs, he is still available in over 50 percent of ESPN.com standard leagues. Just forget the fact that he is named Eric Hinske and look at the numbers. And then pick him up. It's like taking disgusting medicine. You just close your eyes, do it quickly and get it over with. It's not pretty but you'll feel better.
Placido Polanco, 2B, Tigers: Another guy who is available in way too many leagues. He was brutal to start the season, but name a Tiger who wasn't. He's heating up now, hitting .407 over his past six games, and he is a career .304 hitter.
We're already starting to get long, so without breaking down every single justifying stat, here's a quick list of hot-starting pitchers who I believe to be legit:
Just below the Mendoza line
Here are the names of some players you should keep an eye on but not pick up except in deeper leagues.
I've mentioned Jed Lowrie before, but he keeps getting into the lineup for the Red Sox and is the plucky-type player that I like. ... Brandon Wood was recalled this week, and he has crazy power. He had eight home runs and 18 RBIs in just 21 games at Triple-A Salt Lake when he was called up. He also has a terrible batting eye (29 strikeouts to five walks at Salt Lake) and isn't playing every day for the Angels yet. Speaking of the Angels, they just recalled Nick Adenhart, and he promptly got lit up. He's a big-name prospect, but I'm not sure he's ready yet. Yes, he had a 0.87 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 31 innings at Triple-A this year, but with only 19 strikeouts against 15 walks, which is not nearly good enough for me. But he's a name who should be on your radar. ... Morgan Ensberg isn't good, but he can hit for power, and he is going to be playing quite a bit now that Alex Rodriguez is out. ... If I were grabbing middle relievers hoping to luck into some saves somehow, I'd probably grab Brandon Morrow of Seattle or Masa Kobayashi of Cleveland.
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.
Catch Matthew and Stephania Bell on the Baseball Tonight Fantasy Minute Monday-Saturday.
Matthew Berry pats himself (and others) on the back for winning an Emmy award and offers his usual free-agent advice.