The Champion of Ignorance

Hey gang, happy Spring Training!

If you hadn’t heard, and I seriously doubt it if you know me at all, I won my second fantasy baseball championship last season over a determined sportsmanMike squad. It was a wonderful season that ended in a wonderful result for me personally.

Unfortunately, that was about the only thing I got right in 2018. I made bad trade after trade, I played terribly, I made stupid drops, and it was only through pure luck that I manged to blindly flail my way into a title. But I know nobody wants to hear about the “poor little champion who thinks last year wasn’t up to his standards”. That’s arrogant, obnoxious and downright douchey. The real reason I’m writing this post is the biggest regret I have of last season, my horrible treatment of my beloved Tampa Bay Rays.

Last April, after a terrible start to the season, I wrote a downright scathing article on the Rays titled “Ray of Nope”. In said article, I destroyed my team, calling them a “disgrace” and “unwatchable”. I tried to tell you they had no young stars, no good players,and nobody had a jersey worth buying. I said they had no direction for the future, and specifically, I targeted CJ Cron, for some reason choosing to unleash my wrath on him in particular.

Well to recap:

-Blake Snell won the CY Young award and had the lowest AL ERA in nearly 20 years. I went out and purchased his jersey. “No young stars, no jerseys worth buying”

-The Rays traded for Tommy Pham and signed Charlie Morton for $30 plus million dollars. “No commitment to short term winning”

-The Rays dumped sorry Chris Archer on the Pirates for three elite young players, and now have a consensus top three farm system in the game. “No direction for the future”

-The “disgraceful and unwatchable” Rays went on to win 90 games in a division with two 100 plus win juggernauts, and have developed into one of the most interesting MLB teams to watch heading into 2019.

-And just for fun, CJ Cron hit 30+ home runs and became our most consistent hitter.

I’m not proud of the things I wrote, and it just piled onto a horrific 2018 where I threw out bad take after bad take. For somebody who loves and cherishes baseball, and takes great pride in his knowledge of the game, it was a very humbling experience.

This is “Dan The #1 Rays Fan’s” public apology letter to the Tampa Bay Rays. I promise to be more patient in the future. I’ll love you always and forever.

Dan’s Spring Quick Hits

-Year after year the pre-draft rumblings are the person with the #1 overall pick is leaning toward not taking Mike Trout.

-Year after year it continues to baffle me.

-I had a blast at a spring training game yesterday with most of thefoulline.com crew, and it was nice to finally meet Dylan and Trent after all these years. Everyone has crazy baseball knowledge, and getting together and talking about the game in the sunshine is rapidly becoming one of my favorite activities.

-I badly badly badly want Max Scherzer with the #4 overall pick.

-I don’t think Willis fully grasps how badly he’s owned me over the last few years. Nine straight wins at one point! Maybe he’s just too humble to rub it in. He’s a great dude and an even better fantasy baseball player.

-Dylan made a point of letting me know some of my trade offers are “bogus” and was quickly backed up by other league members. One of my biggest goals in 2019 is to change my apparent reputation around the league.

-Every single player in the league seems to have a different take on the state of certain positions, what’s deep and what’s not. This year is going to be fascinating.

-Charlotte Sports Park has the second best cheesesteak I’ve ever eaten.

-After getting nine beers handed to him from Dave, we had to pull over on the side of the highway so Allan could go to the bathroom on the way home.

-I totally support the “Lugo” and the “Drew” division this season. Two legends of thefoulline.com who will live forever.

-Draft day is my favorite day of the year, always. I can’t wait for Sunday.



Spring Fever, Week One

As the Grapefruit and Cactus League schedules get underway, there are a few questions that keep running through my head. Who will be the Rays shortstop? Who will be the odd men out in the Red Sox outfield? Will Kris Bryant start the season in the majors? Could Alex Rodriguez implode under the weight of his own ego? Will thefoulline.com crew finally settle on a suitable date for a Port Charlotte game?

So many unanswered questions, but I know one thing for sure. The games have started, and baseball is back! Take a day off from work, grab a beer and a hot dog and head out to some spring training games. I promise you won’t regret it. The baseball season is a six month grind, but spring training is only one month out of the year. That makes it special in its own way.

The season will be here soon enough. Enjoy the spring fever while it lasts.

Start of Spring Quick Hits

  • SportsCenter has begun giving us live play-by-play coverage of every Alex Rodriguez spring training plate appearance. I will now be abstaining from all things SportsCenter until opening day.
  • Yu Darvish needs Tommy John, Cliff Lee has already had elbow soreness, and Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow seems to be held together by paper clips. All the round 3-5 pitchers seem to be giving out already. Grabbing an ace early may be more important than ever this year.
  • Team Yankeehaters swears they aren’t taking a pitcher in the first two rounds. Surprisingly, I believe him.
  • Pedro Alvarez hit the first home run of the spring. Potential bounce back? 35 home runs can’t be ignored in an age where power is dying.
  • Which round will Ginger gamble on the Joey Votto bounceback? Round 4? Perhaps round 5?
  • Allan and I made an observation when watching a spring game that Anthony Rendon looked 20 pounds overweight. Let’s hope his uniform was just baggy that day. He’s an exciting young star.
  • Speaking of Allan, it’s only a week in, and Bryce Harper has already gotten on his nerves.
  • I still wanna go to jetBlue Park one day. It’s the best stadium in the Grapefruit League.

13 days!

Everybody Talks

Apparently I went to a baseball game yesterday. I say apparently, because I found my ticket stub on the kitchen counter this morning, and a cooler with a couple of beers in it in my car. But oddly enough, I don’t recall watching a minute of baseball.

This could only mean one of two things. I’ve either had a stroke, or the gang from thefoulline.com got together for the second year in a row to “watch” a game.

It was another spring training game, where we found our spot by the left field berm and commenced with three hours of baseball talk. The usual subjects were covered: the upcoming draft, our spots, who are the October Boys taking #1,  why are the Yankees and Rays so unlikable, and is it possible for Allan to drink all the beer at Charlotte Sports Park?

It was a great time, with knowledgeable baseball fanatics. Thanks to Dan “The #1 Rays Fan” for setting it up, and to Willis, Mike, Allan, & Dennis for coming out. It’s nice that we can still be friends, before the competition starts in a few weeks.

I still have no idea who won the game.

The First Days of Spring

Another Spring Training is upon us! The sun is shining. The grass is freshly cut. The birds are singing. Baseball is back!

And I still despise the Tampa Bay Rays.

I feel the need to clarify this, because today I spent yet another morning at the Rays Spring Training facility in the beautiful, historic town of Port Charlotte. My motivation to go see the Rays practice is always the same. I get to spend a few hours in the beautiful weather watching baseball, and if I can trip a few Rays players while I’m there, even better!

Here are my short and sweet observations from Rays camp today:

  • I watched every catcher in the Rays system practice throwing to the bases. Newcomer Ryan Hanigan has the worst arm out of all of them.
  • Grant Balfour was already in mid-season form with his potty mouth. He dropped more F-bombs during practice than the first hour of Pulp Fiction. But he curses in Australian, so it wasn’t that bad.
  • Chris Archer looked great today, and it wasn’t hard to notice that everyone in the Rays organization likes this kid. Brains and talent!
  • It was easy to see that David Price and Evan Longoria have taken a leadership-by-example approach this season. Both guys were the first ones in the drill lines, and would run to the next field during their 15-minute rotations.
  • Jose Molina is still really fat.
  • Not to beat a dead horse, but how does Dave Martinez not have a manager job yet? Even worse, you don’t even hear him being in the discussion anymore.
  • The Rays will win the AL East and play in the World Series this year.

I’m going to go watch practice again later this week. I’ll be sure to bring a few Rays voodoo dolls with me.

Question Authority

Tomorrow I’m going to my fifth and final Spring Training game. I hadn’t planned on going to any more, but RedRays (Trent) made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. RedRays is one of those guys that gets along with everyone and has friends from many walks of life. One of those friends is MLB umpire Chad Fairchild.
Chad Fairchild photo by Adrian Wyld
Chad Fairchild has been umpiring in the big leagues since 2004. He’s been involved in two Division Series, and he was also on the field for A-Rod’s infamous “got it” call when running towards third base in Toronto.

One of the perks of being friends with an umpire… four free tickets to every MLB game in which he is umpiring.

RedRays took advantage of this a few years ago and traveled up to Fenway Park to catch a game. Tomorrow, he’s getting taken care of again, but this time it’s Port Charlotte for a split-squad game. Hey, any baseball is good baseball.

The reason I’m writing this post is that I hope to meet Chad Fairchild and maybe ask a few questions for the site. So, I pose this question to the readers. If you could ask an MLB umpire any question, what would it be? I’ll ask him the best ones tomorrow.

Blowin’ In the Wind

My good friend Dylan – original thefoulline.com fantasy league member and Foul Line contributor – and I have a tradition where we go to at least one spring training game a year. This has been going on for several years, and it’s always a great time. The thing about going to a game with Dylan is that something crazy/fun/outlandish happens every time. That, and I’m pretty certain that we’ve never witnessed a Red Sox victory. During the years of going to games with Dylan, some of the highlights have been seeing the two Red Sox World Series trophies and getting great pictures with them, getting interviewed by MLB.tv, the Jed Lowrie foul ball game, meeting Nick from the Penalty Box bar in Rhode Island, the Great Ellsbury Birthplace Debate, and meeting Dewayne Staats. But today’s game may have been the craziest. Today’s game will be known as “the one where we almost watched someone die.”

The best thing about going to a game with Dylan is the constant banter. All the topics are covered: baseball, personal lives, politics, travel, The Foul Line. It’s always witty, and I’m constantly laughing. It makes for a great baseball viewing experience. A few weeks back, Dylan texted me and asked if I wanted to go see the Sox and Cardinals play on February 26th at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers. He was going to get standing-room-only Green Monster tickets. Of course I was in.

I picked him up at his house for the five-minute drive to the park. Upon getting to the stadium an hour and a half early, we noticed a strong 30-mph wind blowing straight out to center field. It was going to be a bad day to be a pitcher. Dylan grabbed a sausage & pepper sandwich with a Sam Adams. I opted for the Fenway Frank and a 312 wheat beer, and we made our way to the top of the Green Monster. The thing about jetBlue Park is that that everyone working there is a prick. I didn’t see one person smile the entire day. They’re working at a beautiful stadium, watching the most beloved team in all of sports, and they treat everyone like they’re wearing an “I love George Steinbrenner” shirt. It’s bizarre.

Anyhow, Dylan and I grabbed a spot on the wall and started watching the Cardinals take batting practice. Balls just started launching out of the park. Texas-Leaguers were carrying in the monsoon-like winds. At this point, more and more people were making their way to the top of the Monster with hopes of catching a BP ball.

It was the typical crowd: the 45-year-old dude who brought his mitt and was chasing down every ball with Jim Edmonds-like enthusiasm; the dad with his kids trying to score two souvenirs for his baseball-loving boys; the middle-aged woman who flinches and ducks at any ball that hints at hitting the wall; and Dylan and me, eating our food, sipping our beer, and watching ball after ball fly over our heads.

As the Cardinals were wrapping up their batting practice, some unknown player started crushing balls over the wall, one after another. The souvenir-baseball feeding frenzy was in full effect. People were chasing down balls like they were the Wonka Bar golden tickets. Dylan and I continued to watch and take it all in.

As Mr. Unknown was winding down his impressive power display, he launched one more ball high over the wall. As the ball carried, it appeared to be hit so well that it was going to leave the entire stadium. At the last minute, an overaggressive ball-hound jumped up for the ball and began to tumble over the rail to a 25-foot fall. When he was half way over the wall and on his way down to certain peril, the 45-year-old, with his mitt still on, dove and grabbed the guy’s legs, saving him from having a really bad day. It was the best and most important catch of the day.

This led to me saying to Dylan, “Damn, that guy almost died!”

To which he replied, “And that’s why I don’t chase after BP balls.”

And here are your Dylan-centric Quick Hits

  • Due to predicted lousy weather, both teams put all their scrubs in the starting lineups. When Daniel Nava is the big name, you might be in for a snoozer.
  • The experience of watching a game from the vantage point of the top of the Green Monster is unparalleled to any seat at any sporting event I have ever had. I highly recommend it.
  • Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster was on the mound today. With the scrubs backing him up in the field, Dylan commented that he hoped Dempster had his Eh game. You know, because he’s Canadian. It’s funny, eh?
  • There are fewer things I enjoy more than a Fenway frank, a cold beer, and watching baseball.
  • Dylan was able to turn two standing-room-only tickets into two prime seats on the monster, just by being in the right place at the right time.
  • (For the confused Rays fans, “Standing Room Only” seats are when your team sells all the seats at your park, and your only option is to stand.)
  • 312 beer is poured using an old telephone receiver tap. I’m not sure why, but it was awesome.
  • We’re still waiting for the final three spots to get filled on thefoulline.com fantasy league. Clock’s ticking.
  • I’m returning to the Yankeehaters team name. It was fun being the Boston badboys for a season, but the Yankeehaters just feels right.

Thanks to all for reading! The baseball draft is ONLY 4 weeks away! Start prepping now.

Follow @thefoulline on Twitter.

Spring Love

The Major League Baseball season is a 162-game grind. Thirty teams come in with a clean slate and a fresh start, and excitement for making the coveted playoffs is high. Well, maybe not in Houston, Minnesota, or San Diego, but you catch my drift. Everyone is going to predict the Tigers, Nationals, Braves, and Giants as potential World Series contenders. And they should – those teams are loaded. Tension will build. Expectations will be high. Questions will be asked. Who’s going to be this year’s surprise team? Who are this year’s Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles?

Right now, who cares? It’s Spring Training!

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian sums up Spring Training up perfectly: “It is a time for optimism, a fresh start and hope.”

So for now, let’s enjoy six weeks of good weather. Let’s watch the bright-eyed prospects fight for a spot on a Major League roster, and the aging veterans trying to delay the inevitable. Let’s watch teams that we typically don’t get a chance to see. Let’s enjoy the cheaper ticket prices and the intimate stadiums.

It’s spring. It’s baseball. Everyone is 0-0. It’s anyone’s ballgame!

Not Ready to Make Nice

After a disastrous 2012 season, the Red Sox owners added some character guys on the tail end of their careers. In an effort to make the team more likable, Sox owners signed Ryan Dempster – great Harry Caray impersonator, got shelled in Texas last year; Shane Victorino and his .255 batting average; Mike Napoli and his two necrotic hips.

But the the most egregious signing of all was Johnny freakin’ Gomes! What the hell was that all about? How can Gomes ever get cheered at Fenway after his sucker punching and hair pulling of Coco Crisp in the bottom of the “fight” pile? I can understand defending your teammates, but what I can’t comprehend is having this orangutan patrol left field in Fenway Park. I’ve disliked a lot of players in my time, but it’d be hard to find anyone I dislike more than Gomes. But what the hell… It’s only $10 million, and he’s all ours for two seasons.

Quick hits:

  • Speaking of that fight… Does anyone wonder if Coco and James Shields have ever thrown a punch in their collective lives? Whiff… whiff!
  • I still hate the Rays, but I’m interested to see Wil Myers play.
  • I’m making a return to the Rays Opening Day game. Last year’s Rays vs. Yanks game was one of the best I have ever seen live.
  • I’ll be not-so-secretly hoping that the Cleveland Indians do well this season. I’m still a huge Francona fan.
  • I’ll be not-so-secretly hoping that Bobby Valentine contracts syphilis. I still can’t stand that guy.
  • Am I the only one that feels sorry for Houston Astro Carlos Pena? They are by far the worst team in MLB. Moving to the American League is not going to help.
  • It’s my tradition to buy a new Red Sox hat before the start of every season. I might skip it this year. I’m really starting to dislike the Sox ownership.
  • The word around Red Sox camp is that John Lackey is in great shape. They’re also reporting that he’s still a mouth breather.
  • I made the decision a few weeks ago that I was going to cut back on Spring Training games this year. Next thing I know, Dylan hooks us up with Sox vs. Cardinals. Followed by my brother scoring Sox vs. Rays. Then the October Boy asks me to go to the Rays vs. Phillies. Followed by my buddy Nate getting Tigers vs. Mets tix. Suddenly, my spring is looking up!
  • I really, really hope Ryan Braun isn’t a juicer. But I think he is.
  • AL East final 2013 standings: 1. Blue Jays, 2. Rays, 3. Yankees, 4. Red Sox, 5. Orioles
  • What are your thoughts on a 12-team league? Does that interest anyone?

Well, that’s two posts in two days… Is it baseball season yet?

I’m So Excited

I have never been more excited for a baseball season to begin.

After suffering through a tumultuous 2010 season, filled with injuries and unfulfilled expectations, the offseason for the Boston Red Sox has been just what the doctor ordered. Boston made the two biggest splashes of the year by trading their top prospects for Adrian Gonzalez and his perfectly-suited-for-Fenway Park swing, and signing Red Sox-killer Carl Crawford to a ridiculous 7-year contract.

I absolutely love the additions. These are two high-character hard workers that make Boston a lot more exciting. The reality about the 2010 Sox was that they were a bit boring to watch. Players grinding out at bats is productive, but I want to see the shock and awe of Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury stealing bases, coupled with Gonzalez, Youkilis and Big Papi knocking bombs.

I couldn’t care less that Boston is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars in player salaries. I just bought a Red Sox hat that cost 35 bucks, and I’m happy to see the Boston owners putting it back into the team. And I don’t buy that they’re starting to resemble the Yankees, who think they can buy a World Series. Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester, Buchholz, and Ellsbury are all homegrown and are still the heart of this team.

There has been a ton of speculation on what the new and improved batting order is going to be. Is Ellsbury leading off? Is the lineup too left handed? Where should Crawford hit? What a great problem to have. They could put all nine names into a hat and pull them out in any order and still win 90 games. David Ortiz is leading off? Whatever.

Of course, Terry Francona is a lot smarter than I am, and he has a ton of lineup options depending on the opposing pitcher. But, if it were up to me, here’s what I’d do.

  1. Ellsbury
  2. Pedroia
  3. Crawford
  4. Gonzalez
  5. Youkilis
  6. Ortiz
  7. Drew
  8. Saltalamacchia
  9. Scutaro

I’ll put this lineup up against anyone. Patience, speed, and power throughout. Is this a 95+ wins team positioned for a playoff run? As long as they stay healthy, I’m pretty confident that it is.

The 2011 baseball season starts in 30 days… I guess we’ll start answering some of these questions then.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I enjoy watching the NFL for about three weeks, then I’m bored out of my mind.

I couldn’t care less if Brett Favre plays another year or which Manning is going to the Super Bowl. I’m tired of running backs running into the butts of their offensive lineman and quarterbacks with their special “do not hit” rules. I’ll watch the Superbowl, but believe me, I’m counting down the days until Spring Training.

There are people that complain that the baseball season is too long. These people are either communists or Pittsburgh Pirate fans. I’m all for extending the season another 30 games. I’ll gladly take 200 games of baseball over 16 weeks of football.

So here it is, the Top 22 reasons that baseball is the best sport around (in no particular order).

  1. The Boston Red Sox – America’s Team. Some may dispute this, but they are wrong. Boston is the model franchise in MLB – good farm system, an ownership not afraid to spend money, players that stay out of the police blotter. Always in contention. Tradition. Fenway Park. Yankee fans can suck it.
  2. Getting to the park early to watch batting practice.
  3. Manicured fields and the smell of freshly cut grass. Well, maybe not at Tropicana Field.
  4. Fantasy baseball is a thousand times better than fantasy anything else.
  5. Watching the game, eating a hotdog, drinking a cold beer.
  6. Very few face painters in the stands.
  7. If you act like a jackass after hitting a home run, you get nailed in the back your next at bat. Meanwhile, football players celebrate every tackle like they just cured cancer.
  8. Red Sox vs. Yankees
  9. Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer, two great examples of professionalism and loyalty to their teams.
  10. Winning the All-Star game actually means something. Why is the Pro-Bowl even televised? It blows.
  11. Breaking up the double play.
  12. Having the balls to try to steal home.
  13. Walk-off home runs
  14. I know they’re jackasses, but I really like Joe Buck and Tim McCarver calling the Fox Saturday afternoon game.
  15. The Rays going from worst to first in one season.
  16. Players not talking to the pitcher throwing a no-hitter.
  17. Every elite closer having their own walk-in music from the bullpen.
  18. You hit one of my stars, I hit one of yours.
  19. MLB trading deadline, the most exciting day of the year.
  20. Buying a new Red Sox hat every year.
  21. The hit-and-run
  22. The double switch

This list could be a thousand lines long. Baseball is awesome.

Pitcher and catchers report in 20 days!