While at the Oakland game Wednesday, watching A.J. Griffin twirl a masterpiece against a hard-hitting Reds team, I couldn’t help but hear the two guys in front of me talking incessantly about their fantasy teams. They rattled off statistics to each other, compared deals they had made and sat there staring at their smartphone screens rather than watch the game. There was barely a pause in their conversation which lasted a good five innings before I mentioned to them that Griffin had just retired the last nine batters he faced and looked like he was pitching on another level, hoping to get them to shut up and just watch the game. When they didn’t take the hint, I was forced to give them each my card with free Fantasy Alarm update promo codes written on the back as bribes and finally they quieted down and just watched the rest of the game. But it got me to thinking about people’s obsessions with fantasy.
Regardless of how your fantasy team finishes up on a given day, sometimes you just have to take a step back and just appreciate the day of baseball. Like Wednesday for example. There were amazing pitching performances, great standouts at the plate, dramatic wins and heartbreaking losses. Obviously the fantasy aspect is our top priority here on the site, but sometimes you just have to take a step back and appreciate the game for all that it provides. It’s easy to get blinded by the statistics we study every day, but don’t forget that above all, baseball is a brilliant game; an art form, if you will. Just remember to sit back and enjoy it for what it is every once in a while.
Some great baseball moments you may have missed Wednesday while staring at your smartphone include:
In the second inning of the Brewers’ 5-4 loss to the Cubs, Aramis Ramirez collected the 2,000th hit of his professional career. And he did it in style, parking one over the center field wall for his fifth home run of the season. It’s been a rough year for the much-maligned third base slugger as injuries continue to hamper his career, but a momentous number like 2,000 certainly deserves to be highlighted and put front and center despite its lack of fantasy appeal.
But if you need a bit of fantasy love here, how about John Lackey’s performance, notching a season-high 12 strikeouts over seven innings against the Rockies? He struck out the side in three of the first four innings and picked up his 12th K of the night at the expense of Carlos Gonzalez to close out the seventh. It was just the 14th double-digit strikeout performance of his career and his first since October 3, 2010.
And how about the return of Jose Reyes, who dazzled in the field with his glove Wednesday despite going 0-for-4 in his first game back? The stolen bases you’ve been waiting for are coming soon, but how good did it feel to finally pull him off your DL and get him into your active lineup?
Then, of course, there was Scott Kazmir, everyone’s favorite comeback story for some inane reason, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Orioles before losing it and hurting his back. He endured a bit of a rough stretch there in the early part of June, but has now allowed just one run in his last 14 innings with an 11:1 K:BB over his last two starts. Personally, I still don’t trust him in my active lineup but a match-up against the Royals next is awfully tempting.
Now let’s hit the fantasy highlights…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|R.A. Dickey, SP TOR||9.0||1||2||0||0||1||6||0.00||0.33|
|A.J. Griffin, SP OAK||9.0||1||2||0||0||2||7||0.00||0.44|
That’s right….co-beasts today! How do you pick one over the other? R.A. Dickey was one strikeout short of besting A.J. Griffin for the day, but he also walked one less guy which gave him a lower WHIP. But most important was that both threw complete-game shutouts and absolutely dazzled for their fantasy owners. Each has had their share of ups and downs, but neither should be overlooked in any league with 12 or more teams. Maybe even 10 or more.
|Ichiro Suzuki, OF NYY||3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, SB|
|Michael Cuddyer, OF COL||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Erick Aybar, SS LAA||2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, SB|
|Clayton Kershaw, SP LAD||W, 2.25 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 7 K|
|Shaun Marcum, SP NYM||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 2 K|
If only Ichiro Suzuki could play the Rangers every day. He came into the series with a four-game hit streak, hit a walk-off home run in the first game against the Rangers and after Wednesday, is now sitting on a six-game hit streak, having gone 5-for-9 with two homers, three RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base over his last two games.
Not only did Michael Cuddyer enjoy a productive night at the plate, banging two home runs off of Red Sox pitching, but he also extended his hit streak to a career-best 23 games. His streak ties the club record set by his hitting coach Dante Bichette in 1995 and he is is hitting .375 (36 for 96) with five home runs and 16 RBI during this run.
Erick Aybar has been a little quiet for much of the first half of the season, but has really started to light it up recently. He now has three-straight multi-hit games and has hit safely in six of his last seven, batting .370 (10-for-27) with one home run, six RBI, five runs and three stolen bases. If you’re looking to pick up a little bit of speed in the second half, Aybar makes for a great pick-up without having to pay a premium price.
So long as he isn’t facing the Padres, there ain’t nothing wrong with Clayton Kershaw. He bested Tim Lincecum for the fifth time in their careers and his final pitching line says it all. Just Kershaw being Kershaw.
As for Shaun Marcum, I’m really not sure why people go so crazy over him. Sure he’s had some nice moments on the mound this year but he’s also had some serious disasters. Wednesday just happened to be an up day for him. Is that going to mean that he’s worth starting his next time out when he faces Arizona? Not unless you want someone to Goldschmidt all over your ratios.
|Chris Young, OF OAK||0-4, 4 K|
|John Buck, C NYM||0-4, 4 K|
|Jay Bruce, OF CIN||0-4, 4 K|
|Billy Buckner, SP LAA||ND, 9.00 ERA, 2.67 WHIP|
|Jim Johnson, RP BAL||L, BS, 27.00 ERA, 4.50 WHIP|
Can’t win ‘em all, can you? Nothing unexpected here although it’s a bit of a bummer that Jay Bruce is now 0-for-8 with six strikeouts after going off for seven home runs in his previous eight games. I don’t even own him in any of my 11 leagues and I still want to see him bring that whupping stick back again.
Willie Bloomquist, SS ARI – hand (day to day)
Jordan Schafer, OF ATL – ankle (day to day)
Paul Konerko, 1B CHW – back (day to day)
Scott Kazmir, SP CLE – back (day to day)
Dexter Fowler, OF COL – wrist (day to day)
Justin Maxwell, OF HOU – concussion (day to day)
Tommy Hanson, SP LAA – forearm (expected to go on 15-day DL)
Carlos Gomez, OF MIL – shoulder (day to day)
Ryan Doumit, C MIN – ankle (day to day)
John Jaso, C OAK – hand (day to day)
Joaquin Arias, 3B SF – hamstring (day to day)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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