The All Ugly Team: AL Uggos Edition

Fret not AL fans. Despite the sterling record in All-Star games, your league has just as many fugly players as the senior circuit. So feast your eyes, or don’t, on the ugliest players in the American League:

 

 

 

braden

SP-Dallas Braden (Oakland Athletics): Apparently the Athletics wanted to pay tribute to their circus mascot, and decided this clown/Ronald McDonald/serial killer hybrid would be a perfect fit. Nearly as ugly as this mug was his 2007 season (1-8, 6.72 ERA). This is one clown you don’t want at kids’ birthday parties or starting for your baseball team…too many nightmares.

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RP-Scott Downs (Toronto Blue Jays): Scott Downs tries to take the focus off his baby face with a grotesque tribute to the 80’s-mullet. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on Downs’ quality stuff (1.78 ERA in 2008), all any fan can see is a younger version of Journey’s Steve Perry. Looks like Downs and Lyle Overbay go to the same tanning salon.

teagardevC-Taylor Teagarden (Texas Rangers): This face just screams “awww shucks”. Despite a rather feminine last name, Taylor Teagarden does look like a man…just an extremely goofy, unattractive one. Who knew Gomer Pyle had such athletic ability?

overbay11B-Lyle Overbay (Toronto Blue Jays): Yikes, Overbay is like Casper the Ghost, only with fewer eyebrows. Sure Toronto isn’t the sunniest town in America Jr. Canada, but good gosh, stop playing W.O.W. and get out of the basement every once in a while Lyle.

alexeirameriz12B-Alexei Ramirez (Chicago White Sox): Despite the fact that Ramirez’s biography lists his place of birth as Cuba, it’s much more likely that he was spawned one of the moons of Glornak 9. Surprisingly, Mulder and Scully haven’t shown up at a Sox game in pursuit of this ET look alike.

lillibridgeSS-Brent Lillibridge (Chicago White Sox): Apparently the North Siders have quite the keystone combination, as both second base and short are manned by uggos. Lillibridge here picks up 84 channels with those satellite dishes he calls ears and has even been known to use them to fly in strong winds.

wiggy

3B-Ty Wigginton (Baltimore Orioles): Not even a change of uniform could help hide the fact that Ty “Piggly Wiggly” Wigginton was part of an unfortunate experiment that combined man and pig a la “The Fly”. Don’t leave loose change out when Wigginton is around, because he can’t help but gobble it up.

3537OF-Bobby Abreu (LA Angels): Bobby Abreu looks like a cross between a monkey from Planet of the Apes and one of those singing California Raisins. This guy aged worse than Joan Rivers…perhaps he should consider playing for a team like the Twins or Rays who play half their games in a dome–or at least use some sunscreen.

28545OF-Rajai Davis (Oakland Athletics): Poor Rajai Davis. Not only is he a career .252 hitter but he also looks like the baby of the Fresh Prince’s Carlton and Mr. Gopher from Winnie the Pooh. Not sure the pencil mustache and elfish ears exactly help him pull the look together either. The good news is that he’s a speed demon on the base-paths so fans rarely ever get a  clear look at his mug.

29239OF-Fernando Perez (Tampa Bay Rays): Not really sure where to start with this one. Sure he’s got a nice smile, but you just can’t take your eyes off that hair and/or opossum that is living under his hat. Let’s hope the Rays cut that hair just like they cut the Devil out of their name. The disproportionately small head and beady eyes do little to help.

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Utility/DH-Jamey Carroll (Cleveland Indians): IT”S BATBOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sure Carroll has never been much of a threat at the plate but his alter-ego saves the planet on a daily basis. Make sure to look for him on an upcoming cover of Weekly World News meeting with Obama to solve global warming or, simply find him wrapped in a cocoon of his own wings in a nearby cave,  just mind the guano.

Thanks to ESPN.com for the photos

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Not Just For the Sad and Lonely: A Defense of Fantasy Baseball

Hong-Chih Kuo doesn't exist unless you play fantasy baseball.

Hong-Chih Kuo doesn't exist unless you play fantasy baseball.

Playing fantasy baseball is a lot like watching the English Patient. It’s long, tedious and in the end you really aren’t sure if it was worth all the trouble. It’s the overlooked little brother of fantasy football; kind of nerdy and viewed with all the same skepticism of Dungeons and Dragons(by the way Randy Johnson has a nice slider +5, but you have to equip him with the enchanted Hands of Tyman first). Sure there aren’t 20-sided dice, but fantasy baseball isn’t exactly something you want to bring up on a first date. The season drags on from March through September, or roughly the gestation period of an American Black Bear. Unlike football, where you have to check your roster about once a week, fantasy baseball requires that you look at your roster every day for seven months to avoid the embarrassment of leaving Ty Wigginton in your lineup even though every else in the league knew that he was out with a pulled hamstring (not something that is easily lived down). I mean you could go on a three-day vacation and by the time you come back, your whole season could be shot! Kaput! Gone in the blink of an eye.

The ultimate prize. Was it worth seven months of your life?

The ultimate prize. Was it worth seven months of your life?

Additionally, there are numerous other traps that first time fantasy baseball players can fall into. Wanting to get as many starts as possible, an owner may pick up pitchers every day and plug them into their rotation. This seems like a good idea until you realize that there is a maximum number of innings allotted to a team’s pitchers and once you cross this threshold you no longer accumulate stats. You then wrap your mind around the horrific truth that you have banked your playoff hopes on pitchers like Jeff Weaver and Livan Hernandez, the only ones available on the waiver wire, and burst into bitter tears. By gosh you could burn out your pitching staff on mediocre starts by July if you really worked at it, and where would that leave you? In a quite a pickle, that’s where. Also, a number of players that seem valuable in real life, like Derek Jeter or Bobby Abreu, aren’t nearly as much of an asset on your fantasy squad, and are overvalued year after year by new fantasy players (you get exactly 0 points for leadership or clutch hits). Stats like steals mean just as much as homeruns in most leagues, leaving baseball fans turned fantasy players wondering if Willy Taveras is really as valuable as Ryan Howard (not quite).

With all that said, why would anyone in their right mind want to commit to a season of fantasy baseball? Well, the reasons are as endless as the hairs on David Hasselhoff’s chest.

The Crown Prince of Fantasy Baseball

The Crown Prince of Fantasy Baseball

First and foremost, baseball has always been the most stat driven of all sports. Even most casual fans can identify the significance of such numbers as 61 (Roger Maris’ single season HR record), .406 (Ted Williams average–the last man to hit .400) or .304-56 HR-147 RBI (Ken Griffey Jr’s 1997 MVP season). Fantasy baseball gives fans a chance to see these numbers or records as they are actually happening; certainly any fantasy baseball owner won’t forget Lance “the Big Puma” Berkman setting a career high with 18 stolen bases last year because it may have helped them knock off a hated rival to win their league, but just about everyone else outside of Houston will. Fantasy baseball also allows fans to understand the importance of such complex statistics as WHIP (walks + hits/# of innings pitched, a great way to gauge the efficiency of a pitcher) or BABIP (batting average on balls in play, the league average is around .300). For example, a player with a low BABIP, say .280, is probably suffering from bad luck and is due for a breakout, which is something a casual fan will probably overlook. Following this principle, expect Evan Longoria’s average to improve this coming season.

Moreover, fantasy baseball allows you to discover players that normally go unheralded. For instance, Hanley Ramirez and Ian Kinsler are two of the top 10 players in fantasy baseball (thanks to their combination of speed, power and high average) but they normally get lost in the shuffle of higher paid players in large media markets. Think of Ramirez and Kinsler as the indie music of baseball, they’re so great because no one else knows about them (but thankfully, they don’t wear flannel, slackline or drink out of mason jars). Playing fantasy also allows you to discover the next crop of young players. Many owners will draft prospects who are in Triple-A at the beginning of the year and then salivate (like dogs after bacon) over their minor league stats until they are finally called up. Names like Max Scherzer, Travis Snider and Andrew McCutchen might not mean much to you unless you play fantasy baseball; it’s a great way to learn about the future all-stars of the game before anyone else does.

Did Pete Rose have it right all along?

Did Pete Rose have it right all along?

The MLB season is a long one; no one will contend that point. So why not add a little spice to a 162-game season by having a little something riding on each game? Of course Pete Rose thought the same thing and look where that got him, but I digress. No longer will a July series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres be as pointless as another installment of The Land Before Time series. Owners of Nate McClouth and Adrian Gonzalez will have no choice but to pay attention to the games and chart their players’ performances. It’s not quite turning water into wine, but the ability to turn something meaningless into something meaningful, now that’s fantasy baseball’s true gift to mankind.

So the next time your friend mentions an upcoming fantasy baseball draft,  don’t call him a pale worthless excuse for a human being (sticks and stones may break but bones, but words will hurt forever). Instead, ask him if you can join and tell him you know all about WHIP and BABIP. After all, you do get a shiny little trophy if you win; isn’t that worth seven months of your life?

Best site for fantasy baseball: http://sports.yahoo.com/fantasy