In what felt like a lifetime ago, on a Twitter DM thread long, long ago, the Razzball Elite were talking about the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and their manager, one Joseph John Maddon. He is a man of mischief, less of a Loki, more of an Iago in following his caprices. I like to set a blowtorch to an effigy of Bud Black as much as the next fellow, but Maddon has inspired a new level of paranoia in my personal fantasy baseball life.

“Walsh is sitting today,” was the quote, and immediately my thumbs clumsy-bumbled out a panicked response. “Why is Ward sitting?” Confusion ensued until I took several deep breaths and was reassured that Taylor Ward was starting, but now Jared Walsh was again being benched against the feared left-handed ace (!?!?) Taylor Hearn. This made me think of that heinous troll expression used by post-irony Internetters, “Living rent-free in your head.” This expression is incredible in that it intimates people have self-control over their consciousness. If you write the phrase, “Living rent-free in your head,” isn’t the subject of your tweet or post also living in your head? The kettle and pot have been combined, damn the color of the thing. I mean, if a tree falls in the woods, does it live rent-free in your head, at least momentarily? Regardless, the smugly detached, “I’m more rational than you are,” is such a sad, strange notion. I wonder if I apply it too often to blurbs, and the answer is yes. However, there is a level of self-awareness that I hope reminds readers that I do not deign myself superior to any humble blurber.

I do, however, find myself more rational than Joe Maddon. The man has me looking around corners and jumping at shadows. Joe Maddon is my brother in madness, this at least I am sure. The Angels have Jared Walsh, Taylor Ward, and Tyler Wade whose names are so similar that when one is benched, I assume it might be the other. I could give a tinker’s damn about Tyler Wade, but I own Walsh and Ward, and if they didn’t have Maddon managing, I would only feel slightly paranoid about setting my lineup. The man’s decision-making reeks of narcissistic personality disorder, with his team, media, and fans living in a hazy glaze of Stockholm Syndrome. They’ve won, too. The winning, to my increasingly paranoid self, is the most galling aspect of Maddon’s lineup tinkering.

The only thing separating the Colorado Rockies and any team that Maddon has managed (until the Angels), is that their scouting and development isn’t being run by the team owner’s son. I’m not even kidding. Monfort the Younger is in charge of scouting, the guy whose father continues to cheap out, cry poor, and keeps raking in profits while convincing absolute rubes that the team only breaks even. Maddon had good analytics dictating usually reasonable matchup decisions. I get the distinct feeling that the same is not happening with the Angels. Jared Walsh hits RHP’s better than LHP’s, but he is improving. In fact, his splits aren’t that noticeable this year. However, he continues to sit against most LHP, and sometimes because [insert folksy reasoning]. Like a good conspiracy theorist, Joe Maddon can bench a player for no good reason, and we’re all befuddled. The next game the player hits two home runs. The fanbase says, “See, you shouldn’t have benched him yesterday!” Joe smiles and says, “He only hit the home runs because I benched him yesterday.”

In this way, the irrational narcissist persists, and the supposed rationalist is left in the corner, sipping their cold, creme-less coffee, muttering about how they could be a better baseball manager as they hate-watch another blowout victory for their team. It’s enough to make one feel like a protagonist in a Philip K. Dick short story. The man is baseball gaslighting personified, and he’ll probably continue to win games while I stand in the corner, sipping my cold, creme-less coffee, and muttering about how Joseph John Maddon lives rent-free in my head.

 

A Blurbstomp Reminder

We will analyze player blurbs from a given evening, knowing that 1-2 writers are usually responsible for all the player write-ups posted within an hour of the game results. We will look at:

  • Flowery Diction – how sites juice up descriptions of player performance
  • Q and Q – when a site contradicts a player valuation on back-to-back blurbs
  • Bob Nightengale Memorial Plaque – When a blurb is right in the wrong way

The hope is that by season’s end, we’ll all feel more confident about our player evaluations when it comes to the waiver wire. We will read blurbs and not be swayed by excessive superlatives, faulty injury reporting, and micro-hype. I will know that I have done my job when Grey posts, and there isn’t a single question about catchers that he did not address in his post. Onward to Roto Wokeness!

 

Flowery Diction

Tigers recalled RHP Alex Faedo from Triple-A Toledo.

Faedo, a Florida native who actually grew up going to Rays games, will take the ball for Monday’s series opener against Tampa Bay. The 26-year-old righty allowed two runs and struck out seven batters Tuesday in his second big-league start against the Athletics. There’s definitely some streaming intrigue for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues moving forward.

Source: Rotoworld

This first sentence is like listening to a color commentator stroke out due to boredom. There’s a reason for that. Roll blurb from two days previous!

Alex Faedo will start Monday against the Rays.

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Saturday that Faedo, a Florida native, is scheduled to take the ball for Monday’s series opener. The 26-year-old righty allowed two runs and struck out seven batters Tuesday in his second big-league start against the Athletics. There’s definitely some streaming intrigue for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues and AL-only formats.

Source: Rotoworld

In cases like these, the hard-and-fast rule calls for “less is more,” not “same but different.” These two blurbs read like me trying to write the Introduction and Conclusion to a classic 5-paragraph essay before I know what I’m talking about. The tortured restructuring of the first sentence, followed by copy/paste of the final two sentences…

BUTT

There is a glaring difference between these two blurbs. On May 14th, Faedo had streaming appeal for Mixed Leagues and AL-only formats. May 16th rolled around, and that same streaming appeal had narrowed to Mixed Leagues and Mixed Leagues alone. What did Faedo do between the 14th and the 16th to change his value? Lose a fingernail? Was his car towed? Where? Can I have it? Will he still pay for gas and insurance? How about annual check-ups? Will he drive it to the emissions-testing facility for me? It’s all the way up in Skokie! Don’t look at me that way, I have to go tomorrow and it sounds like a drag because it is a drag. Regardless, this blurb could also qualify as a Double Take post, but the diction sang to me after Grey tipped me off (bowing guy showing an appropriate amount of gratitude without making a whole thing emoji).

In summary, while the  hard-and-fast rule in blurb-scribing usually calls for “less is more,” when it comes to flavor text in a blurb, we sometimes stumble upon “same but different.” These two blurbs read like me trying to write the Introduction and Conclusion to a classic 5-paragraph essay before I know what I’m talking about. The tortured restructuring of the first sentence, followed by copy/paste of the final two sentences…

 

Q&Q

George Springer went 1-for-4 with a triple and three RBI on Wednesday against the Mariners.

All three of Springer’s RBI came on his triple, which was a 71.5 MPH blooper that fell in. But they all count the same, and he is now up to 21 RBI and 21 runs scored. Springer’s numbers look a lot like they did last year, so if he can manage to avoid injury, he should be in for a monster season. 

Source: Fantasypros.com

Springer’s numbers last year: 59/22/50/4/.264
Springer’s numbers this year: 21/7/18/2/.268

Peering at Springer’s numbers from last year, I don’t want those stats from last year, I want better! He missed a chunk of the season, and you don’t draft guys like Springer hoping for an exact repeat. Beyond that, besides the batting average and maybe the steals, everything looks pretty different. Maybe they meant his stats from the start of the season to May 17th? Nope. On May 17th of 2021 he had still only amassed 18 at-bats. Okay, I just fast-forwarded to the end of July, 2021, when Springer had registered 144 at-bats. Maybe this was the comparison?

26/11/21/2/.264 in 144 ABs
21/7/18/2/.268 in 140 ABs

Those are a bit closer. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention the final injury-cursing sentence. Remarking in the same breath that his numbers look like last year’s injury-riddled totals, while then hoping he doesn’t get injured? That is some bad gris-gris.

 

Q&Q

Blake Snell lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed three runs against the Phillies in his season debut Wednesday.

Snell had good stuff tonight, averaging 95.8 mph with his fastball, but he walked three batters and two of those came around to score. He also gave up a solo homer to Rhys Hoskins. Hopefully, he’ll be sharper in his second start back from the IL next week against the Brewers.

Source: Rotoedgesportsworld.com

Ah, the good old “stuff” debate. I would argue that if a pitcher gave up three walks, and three hits (including a homer), and did so in only three innings, that his “stuff” was not, in fact, “good.” Throwing a fastball fast does not, in fact, indicate goodness relative to the amount of stuff. Location factors into “stuff” quite a bit. I liked the idea that Tom Scocca and the Defector staff put together at the Olde Website (which I won’t link to for fear of giving Zombie Deadspin clicks), in that stuff is essentially location, velocity, and timing. It’s just like comedy!!!

Maybe the insinuation was that his fastball was a good pitch last night. I would argue that regardless of the fastball, Snell’s stuff didn’t work last night. He had an ERA/FIP/xFIP of 7.36/6.36/4.70, so you can’t just say he got unlucky. The “stuff” wasn’t good. Speed isn’t everything, just ask Keanu Reeves. He’s been in other movies! The Lake House is the Ghost of the 2000’s! The Matrix is the Star Wars of the late 90’s! Point Break is the Road House of the 90’s! John Wick is the Death Wish of the 2010’s. Is anyone even arguing with me? No? Speed was a good movie though, especially when the character from Dumb & Dumber was murdered by the guy from Blue Velvet.

 

Bob Nightengale Memorial Plaque

Orioles designated hitter Trey Mancini went 1-for-4 with one single and a RBI in Wednesday’s 2-3 loss to the Yankees.

In the 6th inning, Mancini grounded into a fielder’s choice to first base which scored Austin Hays. Mancini is now tied for 27th in the majors in hits this season and continues to be a consistent hitter for the Orioles.

Source: Fantasypros.com

Tied for 27th in total hits? What a gloriously esoteric item to highlight! I can only hope my friend(s) speaks of me in the same manner. “Oh yes, he’s great! C.A.’s the fourth tallest guy I know, and probably 56,000th guy to tell me that baseball, music, film, and video games are things that he enjoys.” Meanwhile, Mancini is currently ranked as the 26th best 1B using Razzball’s year-to-date Player Rater. Not great! Imagine Orson Welles re-working one of his many masterpieces, The Third Man, only it’s now titled The 27th Man, and it’s a film about a mostly boring guy who becomes convinced that Joseph John Maddon is threatening his life by deciphering a pattern in his line-up tinkerings. When the protagonist is successfully murdered by Maddon, and Maddon is being questioned by the cops, he’ll smile and ask, “Why do you think it was me? I suppose I’m living rent-free in your head….”

That’s all for now, fellow consumer of blurbs! I will see you next month, as summer takes hold, and my ultimate contrarian self emerges into the humid 100 degree weather, a beautiful butterfly complaining that Autumn is still preferable to this.

 

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