- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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Hindsight is 20/20.
We reap what we sow.
If we don't learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.
Generally speaking, the reason any phrase becomes a hack cliché is because it's actually true.
So this past weekend, my kid brother got engaged to his girlfriend, Mimi. Thrilled for them and even more excited for my brother. I'm a big Mimi fan and not just because she once tried to set me up with a girl who looks like Anne Hathaway.
I go out on a lot of blind dates and the one with "Anne" was no different from a lot of the ones I've written about here. Except, of course, that I had a great time and really, really liked this girl. Smart, fun, pretty, cool, just the right amount of crazy it was one of those dates where we just talked and talked and the date didn't end until very late in the evening. It was the kind of date where I called her the next day to tell her how much fun I had and we ended up talking for an hour. And we texted back and forth the day after that even though we had our second date planned for the next night.
So you can imagine my surprise when she texted me the next day to say she couldn't make the date and didn't want to see me again. Turns out her friend is married to a guy who reads me. Who decided to cut and paste a bunch of my columns and send them to her. Guess which ones?
At first, I was like Dude, really? Did I just get, um, e-blocked? Of those who love and hate the TMR, I was pretty sure what side "Jeff the kidney doctor" fell on. "You just want to date me for a funny story," she said. "I don't want 10 million people reading about how I'm a crazy chick." I tried to explain that if I had 10 million readers, I'd be on my yacht with the Laker girls and this conversation would be moot. That didn't go over too well. Hmm. I told her, in all seriousness, that I had never written about a girl who had asked me not to. For those of you who listen to the podcast, did you know I actually went out on two dates with the girl from Matchmaker Charlie? No, because she asked that I never discuss her. And I gave her my word I wouldn't.
"Anne" was having none of it and it was then I realized it served me right.
You can't have it both ways.
Pretty sure that's a cliché too, just like "I promise, I'll get to baseball soon." At least when I write. But if I get the perks of being in the public spotlight, I get the stuff that sucks too.
Not that anyone ever told me to write about my dating life, but I can tell you that writing about my life and "being me" is what has gotten me to where I am now. And as a single guy in his 30s living in Connecticut, my dating life tends to be a big part of what I want to write about. Not a lot of interesting stuff about playing hoops with Nate and the guys, you know? Except the last time we played, I stuffed Nate like I was Mutombo and if anyone has a poster-size version of that, I'd pay top dollar for it.
If I just do straight fantasy analysis, frankly, I'm just like eight million other guys out there. One thing I pride myself on is that if you took my byline off a column of mine, whether you loved or hated it, you could read it and you'd go "That's a Matthew Berry column." A lot of the fantasy analysis I read I feel you could strip off the name and you'd have no idea who wrote it. Christopher Harris is one of the exceptions to this, which is why when we both wanted to do "look back at correct calls and mistakes" for today, I was fine with it. Because I know his approach will be very good and also very different from mine.
Contrary to popular belief, I want to get married again. One of the reasons my first wife and I broke up was because I wanted kids sooner than she did. But I also very much enjoy being ESPN's Fantasy Guy. And if I am going to mine my life for popularity and traffic and notoriety then I have to be able to accept the fact that it's going to have consequences, especially on my social life.
Look, I have the best job in the world and it's a very specific choice I made. So I'm not at all complaining. I continue to be very lucky and blessed. But being in the public eye means that when you make a mistake, it's much more magnified. For example, I shouldn't have printed that e-mail from that one woman. Now, I changed the e-mail a bit to take out details and it was published a long time after it was sent. Thought it would be funny and maybe it was. But it also came back to bite me, not just with "Anne" but also with some co-workers who were not comfortable with it. Looking back, I wish could take that one back. Just like my preseason Jeff Francoeur prediction.
You take the good with the bad with this job and my life. And there's a lot of good. You look back at my "Love/Hate" preseason article (written in early February!) and you'll see some pretty nice sleeper calls, including a bounce-back year for Brian McCann and good seasons out of Geovany Soto, Kurt Suzuki, Mike Napoli, Kelly Shoppach, Joey Votto, Mike Jacobs, Alexi Casilla, Ryan Theriot, Yunel Escobar, Mark Ellis, Jeff Keppinger, Josh Hamilton, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Reynolds, for Jason Bay, Marcus Thames, Xavier Nady, Jayson Werth, Jay Bruce, Carlos Gomez, Michael Bourn, Adam Wainwright, Wandy Rodriguez, Jon Lester, Brandon Morrow and Edwin Jackson.
But I am not perfect. Whether it's an e-mail I published; liking Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Fields, Alex Rios, Randy Johnson, Jerry Owens and Rajai Davis in the preseason; or telling you I was worried about Albert Pujols and that I didn't like J.D. Drew, Dan Haren, Derrek Lee or Chipper Jones.
So let's learn from the past to influence the future. It's going to be a long time before you see another dating story from me. And here are some selected reactions to my two previous rankings (and I've purposely picked some of the bigger mistakes and not cherry-picked my good calls). And then I'll tell you some guys who will be higher up in my next rankings next week.
Some reactions to my May rankings
tomPELLv.2 (ESPN Conversation): Mclouth is way too high, Burrell is way too high and Nady is way too high, just to name a few of your horrible picks. And Laroche is a top-200 player from this on forward, probably a top 125.
TMR: Since May 1, Nate McLouth has 9 home runs, 32 RBIs, 7 stolen bases and 37 runs scored in 57 games. He is hitting just .248, though. Pat Burrell has 14 home runs but a surprisingly low 29 RBIs. He's hitting .255. His nine home runs since May 1 are tied for ninth in the majors in that time frame. Xavier Nady has 8 home runs, 29 RBIs and is hitting .314. Adam LaRoche has 8 home runs, 35 RBIs and is hitting .272.
juanalvarez16 (ESPN Conversation): Two things that jumped out at me were Ian Snell being ranked so low and Conor Jackson ahead of David Ortiz. Snell had a bad month, it was really not that bad, and considering he has been consistent for a couple of years now, to put him where you did behind guys like Shawn Hill and Micah Owings and Randy Wolf is weird to me. With Ortiz, he could have a average season and Jackson would not touch it. Conor Jackson is always a popular sleeper and has the tools but I will not trust him until he puts together 6 months. You are better than this, Mr. Roto. Still love the work.
TMR: Well, none of those pitchers has been great, which is why they were a bit lower. Since May 1, Snell is 1-6 with a 6.71 ERA. Hill has not been able to stay healthy and hasn't been very effective when he was out there. And Owings (2-7, 5.98) has pitched poorly, just not as bad as Snell. Wolf has also struggled (3-7, 4.95) but he has been very strong at home. As for the batters, since May 1, Conor Jackson has 3 home runs, 21 RBIs and 24 runs. He is hitting .276. David Ortiz, meanwhile, has 8 home runs, 22 RBIs, 19 runs and is hitting .318. Of course, he's been injured as well, but that counts. He was certainly more of an injury risk than Jackson and that played into it.
jtolson210 (ESPN Conversation): Soriano at 16? This is terrible ... this "article" and rankings could be written in 20 minutes by the average fantasy player.
squirrel96 (ESPN Conversation): No way Soriano justifies No. 16 since he'll get less than 50 RBIs the rest of the year and won't steal 10 bases.
TMR: Since May 1, despite getting hurt, Soriano has hit .323 with 13 home runs, 35 RBIs and 5 steals. He also has 29 runs scored.
Some reactions to my June 1 rankings
kuttadanerd (ESPN Conversation): I just found Joe Mauer. TMR thinks there are 172 players that carry more fantasy value than Joe Mauer.
TMR: Since June 1, he has hit .343. He has four home runs but only 16 RBIs and no stolen bases. I've never been a big Mauer fan because he's too dependent on batting average for his value. But at least he's hitting and healthy.
clean88gt (ESPN Conversation): 81 - Ben Sheets. 109 - Scott Kazmir. Anything wrong with this picture? Sheets has been injured more frequently than Kazmir and he is no longer a strikeout machine like Kaz. Kazmir is known to own the Yanks and BoSox and he's picking up where he left off when he dominated in the second half of last year, combine that with the Rays better defense and bullpen and he'll have a shot at 15-18 wins to go with the K's and ERA. Sheets is good but not even close to 28 spots better than Kid K-- azmir.
TMR: Since June 1, Sheets (4-1, 2.88 ERA, 37 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings) has, in fact, pitched better than Scott Kazmir (2-2, 4.11 ERA, 37 strikeouts in 35 innings). Kazmir has always had stretches of dominance but he has never put it together for a full season. This year is no different.
wachnlurn (ESPN Conversation): Hey Berry, how did that Scherzer ranking work out for you, what was he 113 last month? ... hahahaha .
TMR: Not well. Add that to the Francoeur pile. Yeesh. I still really like Scherzer and had he stayed healthy, I think he might have come back into the rotation, but yeah, not a good call.
mymrbig (ESPN Conversation): Kenny Rogers ahead of Greg Maddux? Surely a joke! On a more serious note, I'm surprised to see Derek Lowe ranked so low (I made a not-funny pun). I actually am serious, he's been good his last 3 outings and is perpetually underappreciated. And where's the love for Tim Lincecum? 106 for the pitcher who's second in K's, 2nd in ERA, and tied for 3rd in wins. I don't get it
TMR: I'm actually pretty proud of the Rogers call as the Gambler (2-2, 3.00 ERA) has been very solid since June 1, better than Greg Maddux and his 0-3, 4.25 mark since the same time. Lincecum is another guy I've addressed before as to why I ranked him so low, but yeah, I was wrong on him. As was Chris Harris. Can ESPN just apologize as a company for not believing he'd maintain this kind of consistency and move on?
Ten guys who are going to be moving up in my next rankings update
C - Kurt Suzuki, A's: Hitting .320 since June 1.
1B - Carlos Delgado, Mets: Since June 1, only three first basemen have more home runs. And for the past three years, Delgado's second-half batting average is .290.
2B - Mark Ellis, A's: 5 HRs, 18 RBIs, 7 steals in 32 games since June 1 and hitting a livable .262.
SS - Orlando Cabrera, White Sox: 3 HRs, 21 RBIs, .304 in his past 32 games.
3B - Brian Buscher, Twins: .314 on the season with 17 RBIs in 20 games.
OF - Brett Gardner, Yankees: Stole 34 bases in the minors, gonna get even more playing time with Damon out and he already has three steals in his first six games.
UT - Carlos Pena, Rays: 2 HRs, 11 RBIs in his past 10 games.
P - Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies: 3-3, 2.79 ERA over his past eight starts with 38 strikeouts in 48 innings.
P - Manny Parra, Brewers: 7-0 with a 2.27 ERA in his past 11 starts.
P - Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers: 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA over his past four starts.
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 is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off.