February 27, 2005

The Old South Hill Association enters 19th Century

I'm drinking grape juice - a soothing alternative chosen in place of what would have been the 8th cup of coffee of the morning - and feeling unusually sedate as Vladimir Guerrero gazes out from the covers of two fantasy baseball tip sheets on my desk. Both magazines rate him either third or fourth in fantasy value among available outfielders, so I'm not exactly sure why he was chosen as cover boy for the East Coast printing. Odd enough, but a pleasure for those of us tired of seeing A-Rod gritting his teeth and crossing his arms under halogen lamps at the Street & Smith's offices. Guerrero, in contrast, has the easy smile, sunken eyes and patchy Latin beard of a young Fidel Castro. And from what I understand, the Cuban was a mighty ballplayer. Guerrero, as well.
The tip sheets are better reading for baseball fans, and fantasy players, than any of the season preview magazines, which were, in the time of my youth, a colorful sign of the Spring to come. There are distinct memories of Strawberry and Gooden loping around the covers of The Sporting News and Street & Smith's. They were heavily regionalized then, unlike the pennies-on-the-dollar printing of The Roto Times I've got here. Sometimes you'd find separate Yankees and Mets covers. And I remember just over the Pennsylvania border, no more than 10 minutes south of Binghamton, finding Pirates and Phillies editions at a gas station. I'll trim the nostalgia here, but I remember reading those magazines ragged, waiting for Opening Day.
Now we have the Internet, and all of those preview magazines are outdated when they hit the stands. Beltran should be a force wherever he lands, I read this week.
In Fantasy Land, though, it doesn't matter what they wear. The only concerns in most leagues are with Jamesian acronyms such as WHIP and OPS. Pedro's shoulder may be held together with rubber bands and Bubble Yum, but when it pops it doesn't matter if it bleeds through the joint on to his Mets uniform, or the trendy threads of the Red Sox. Either way, somebody looks like an ass and loses money.
But here in The Association, where we play for no money and with no pride, team loyalties still matter. I submit the recent post from James Sigman - country music writer and manager of The Hula Hula Boys - as evidence. You can read it yourself, and draft accordingly. The Association prospers, expanding in its second year of existence, albeit not enough of an expansion to raise the eyebrow of hockey's visionary savior, Gary Bettman. Here, knuckles and chairs are sacrificed in the name of an unwanted Gary Sheffield draft pick; although that draftee didn't seem too eager to drop him later in the season when Sheffield's Flaxseed-rubbing ass started posting MVP numbers.
Wait, that was me. Bad example.
In The Association you can predict Draft Day tears from the 4 or 5 Mets fans who miss out on Beltran. You can expect Bonds to sit on the waiver wire for months (right Dave?). And you can damn well be sure Tony Impenna will think he's outsmarted us all when he drafts David Wright in the second round. That's why we play: To make fun of our friends.
And this year we've expanded to the Blogosphere, although I expect this will essentially become a Web diary for me by June. I don't care. Read at your leisure.
I'm lucky, and dumb enough to be a member of the exclusive Society for American Baseball Research, which pesters me with daily trivia emails and hypothetic All-Time teams. I'll post the better selections and others things I find on the Internet and the wires. There's a way to add comments to my posts - this you probably know because the world of Blogging does not seem so Fantastic and Mysterious to you as it does me - so go ahead. Also, if you find anything or feel like posting an attack on someone in the league, email me at wabash97@yahoo.com, and I'll post the thing. I guess you can use Yahoo!'s message center too, but this is more fun, and you'll will make me feel wanted and appreciated if you use the Blog.

Ok. Welcome to The Association.
Check back from time-to-time, and I'll try to keep you entertained.