Rob Neyer has a fantasy baseball game

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neyer.jpgESPN’s Rob Neyer sits up in his little cottage up in the Pacific Northwest making people think that he’s this calm, peaceful guy who just researches and writes about baseball all day, but he’s really a ruthless multi-media kingpin:

Imagine Sports Inc., a leading online fantasy sports gaming company,
today announced a deal with baseball analyst and author Rob Neyer,
whose “SweetSpot” blog is a popular long-running feature on ESPN.com.
Under the partnership, Imagine Sports will work with Neyer to produce
fantasy baseball games based on statistics from the past using the
“Diamond Mind Baseball” simulation software.

Call me paranoid, but I think Rob rushed this announcement to steal my thunder. I mean, I can’t go into detail right now, but because of this press release, my marketing team and I are going to have to totally rethink our rollout of “Craig Calcaterra’s MicroLeague Baseball ’10”.

But I’m willing to let bygones be bygones here. In fact, I’ve even accepted Rob’s invitation to join a league test-driving Rob’s new game. The problem: my opponents, who consist of a who’s-sorta-who of baseball quasi-royalty, are all likely better fantasy players than I am. Really, I truly suck at this stuff. So in order to win, I need to use the only advantage I have — the heartless deviousness I perfected during my legal career — in order to have a chance at victory.  My gameplan:

  • Doug Glanville: Former Cubs, Phillies and Rangers centerfielder and current New York Times columnist. I fear Glanville more than any other player in this league. He’s an Ivy League educated engineer, he knows more about baseball than I ever will and based on his writing he’s thoughtful, balanced, reasonable, well-rounded and admirable.  My only hope against him is to engage in psychological warfare: Since the game allows you to use any player from history, I am going to draft a late-career version of Glanville in the first round and constantly offer him back to real-life Glanville in a trade for a Cy Young quality pitcher. Even if he doesn’t eventually bite, the struggle between ego an reason may throw him off his game long enough for me to gain an advantage.   
  • Joe Posnanski: I’ll do the same think with Poz, but instead of Glanville, I’ll offer him back Duane Kuiper. Substitute the ego-reason distraction with the 7,000 word blog post my proposal will inspire and the same effect will be had.
  • Gordon Edes: In less than two years Edes has gone from the Boston Globe to Yahoo! to ESPN Boston.  Like all the others he’s way smarter than me, but given his track record, there’s a good chance that he’ll move on to some other fantasy game before the season is over.
  • Rany Jazayerli: Harassment campaign. I’m going to start a second blog called “Craig on Rany’s Fantasy Team,” and second guess his every move. If history is any guide, he will become flustered and trade for Yuniesky Betancourt, ensuring victory for me.
  • Jonah Keri: There are a lot of possibilities here. Jonah’s a new father of twins and he’s writing a book, so he’s obviously going to be fatigued, so I may not have to pull too many dirty tricks.  But if I do, I know that he’s one of the last 11 Expos fans left on the planet so I may be able to rip him off in trades involving Warren Cromartie and Sean Berry. If that fails, I’ll just bribe Rob to take his team away from him and give it to one of my friends in D.C.
  • Norm Warner: I don’t know Norm, but I believe he’s in sports radio here in Ohio. I’ll have to consult my WKRP in Cincinnati library in order to come up with the proper hijinks and shenanigans to derail his team.
  • Josh Wilker: He of the fantastic Cardboard Gods blog and, soon, book. I love Josh’s work, but this should be pretty easy considering he’s going to limit his roster to enigmatic looking baseball players from 1975-1980.
  • Rob Neyer and Charles Wolfson: Charles Wolfson actually works for the company putting out the game and Rob, of course, is the name on the box so I’m just going to assume they’ve rigged the whole damn enterprise. If they don’t want word being spread that the game is crooked, crooked crooked, they’ll have to intentionally tank the season, right? Sure, they may choose not to, but do they really want their integrity questioned like that?  Up to you dudes, but if I were you I sure wouldn’t want to finish in, say, the top five.

So there you have it. I’ll keep you updated throughout the season, but like I said, I’m a terrible fantasy player. And I’m even worse at Diamond Mind games than I am at roto and other stuff. But I think I got the mental edge.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.