Sam

Posts Tagged ‘fantasy baseball’

Harmon Killebrew: Gentleman farmer

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm


One of the icons of my childhood, Harmon Killebrew, died yesterday. Along with Frank Robinson, Frank Howard, Mickey Mantle et. al Killebrew was one of the preeminent sluggers of the game in the 1960s and early 1970s. Year in year out his name was near the top of the list of American league HR leaders and only Babe Ruth had more consecutive 40 hr seasons than Killebrew (eight).

Growing up in the Bay Area I had limited opportunity to see Killebrew play. I probably went to a few A’s – Twins game as a kid but I don’t really remember. I was after all a Giants fan. However, several years after he retired, Killebrew became the color man on the A’s telecasts. Killebrew was a pleasure to listen to on the A’s broadcasts. He had a mellifluous voice without ever so much as a hint of anger or indignation –at a blown call or a mental mistake by a player on the field. As a player Killebrew shunned wrist bands and batting gloves when they became popular in the late 1960s and stepped into the batters box with the austerity of a monk. So as a broadcaster with the A’s did he refuse to clutter pauses with meaningless statistics or incessant chatter but simply offered his analysis of play when necessary.

After several years of broadcasting A’s games Killebrew retired to his farm in Oregon. Somehow the image of Killebrew as gentleman farmer seemed to fit. Harmon Killebrew was a minimalist, and this came across in everything he did, his tape measure home runs and 9 kids the exceptions.

When I read this morning of Killebrew’s death, the first thing that came to mind is how different the game is now. Nowadays a player of Killebrew’s stature is inevitably involved in contract disputes, free agency, the occasional paternity suit, or, as is more likely, steroid use.

Soft spoken sluggers like Harmon Killebrew belonged to another, better era.

Thanks for the wonderful memories Harmon. You will be missed.

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What is Fantasy Baseball anyway ?

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2011 at 6:41 am

I have never understood fantasy baseball. In fact I really don’t even know what fantasy baseball is. I have so little interest in fantasy baseball that I have never even bothered to google it to find out what it is. People occasionally ask me if I play fantasy baseball but I quickly demur at the suggestion, lest they invite me to join a fantasy baseball league. My concept of fantasy baseball is that is a refuge for grown men who were never good at sports when they were kids and who, as a result, are somewhat insecure about their maleness.

When I was a kid the equivalent of fantasy baseball was Strat-O-Matic. But I never knew anyone who played Strat-O-Matic. None of the kids I hung out with showed any interest and I have only a vague recollection of what a Strat-O-Matic card looked like ( something like a Milbourne card if I recall) . If one somehow found its way into your collection, you just threw it out. Unless it was Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. And even then it didn’t warrant a rubber-band but just sat in the bottom of your shoe-box under your Topps cards. Needless to say, Strat-O-Matic was just for kids. Fantasy baseball, for some reason, has an especial lure for adults. I have no idea why.

People who play fantasy baseball seem to fall into two categories:

1.) The guy you sit next to at the ballpark who keeps score, listens to the game on a headset and wears a replica jersey. He doesn’t talk much during the game, shells a lot of peanuts while keeping score and usually brings a PBJ in wax paper from home. A beer ? Out of the question. He works at a printing company or a Copy Mat and derives great pleasure from discussing fantasy baseball with his co-workers or other initiates to this banal game. He never marries.

2.)The hyper-social male whose frenzied social networking masks a deeply seated insecurity among large groups. He is always schmoozing, patting people on the back, desperately trying to give people the impression that he “belongs.” He plays in a fantasy baseball league and wears this fact as a badge of honor. He is also known as a jerk.

Fantasy baseball: just another reason why baseball was better when I was a kid.