Archive for the MLB Baseball Category

How Do I Know That You’re Lying? Easy — Your Lips Are Moving

Posted in MLB Baseball, News/Current Events, Rants, Ro-Sham-Bo Award, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by thelasthonestman

That’s it?  The month is over already?  It will be, at least by the time we reach Monday.  February has always been my least favorite month, its brevity only being one of those reasons.  It’s cold, it’s dreary, and its devoid of most sporting activities: football season is over, baseball season hasn’t started yet, I don’t care much about hockey, and basketball doesn’t really start catching my interest until we get to March Madness and the NBA Playoffs.

However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot of news about those out-of-season sports making the headlines anyway.  While I plan to address the NFL labor situation at some point next week, for now I’ll aim my daggers at a big story from the baseball world, where Mark McGwire is apparently unhappy with his estranged brother’s decision to publish a book that details his use of performing-enhancing drugs.

Pardon me if I don’t bring out the crying towel in a show of sympathy for the embattled former slugger.  Jay McGwire’s  book, “Mark and Me: Mark McGwire and the Truth Behind Baseball’s Worst-Kept Secret”, is scheduled for publication this Monday, and in it the younger brother of the one-time season HR king debunks McGwire’s claims that his steroid use was only to recover from injuries, and not to enhance his performance.  McGwire is apparently saddened by this, and he’s been quick to remind us that Jay McGwire’s claims aren’t the truth, and again, that he only used steroids to recover from injuries and not to enhance his performance in any way.

Mark McGwire explaining how his steroid use had no effect on his performance, and how it only was used to recover from injury

Well, we’ve heard this tripe before — in the form of  similar wishful fabrications from the other steroid cheats of the era who’ve been brought under the microscope, like Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro, and others — and as usual, my only wish would be for someone to stick a towel in someone’s mouth, because I’m just tired of people like McGwire who find it incapable of simply telling the truth, for better or worse.

We all know that your performance was aided by the use of steroids. You do — I do — Tony LaRussa did — your brother did — Jose Canseco did — anyone who’s paid even the slightest bit of attention to the medical revelations over the years as to what steroids give to an athlete and how they help them to gain an advantage over fellow competitors knows.

McGwire wants us to feel sorry for him, he wants us to feel like he was some sort of a victim here, but he’s not at allthe game of baseball was the victim from self-serving, selfish people like McGwire who put their own goals and wishes above what was right and what was for the good of the game.  We’re supposed to believe that he had no choice, that the culture of the game demanded that he join in with the crowd on the steroid path because “everyone else was doing it”?  What a crock — we wouldn’t listen to that sort of lame of excuse if it were coming from our children while sitting in the principal’s office, but we’re supposed to go along with the idea that adults like McGwire and his contemporaries had no other option but to follow the crowd?

What makes that defense the most ludicrous is that there were those did show some backbone — and they were the ones — or as it’s looking more and more like, the few — who chose to stay away from the temptation of steroids.  Frank Thomas did.  Ken Griffey, Jr. was another one — despite the fact that, for the entire second half of his career, he battled numerous career-hindering injuries along the way.  You want me to feel sorry for someone — then how about those guys who did it the right way, who didn’t let the temptation of millions of dollars and the glory of the public lead them into adapting a “whatever it takes” mantra — but who are going to be forever soiled by the guilt of association they have to bear for the failings of others.

Is Jay McGwire a good guy here?  Of course, not — but in a sense he’s doing exactly what his brother did: he’s doing something not prohibited by the current law to make himself some extra green, get his face into the news, and better himself and his own situation — even if it’s not the right thing to do, morally or ethically, and even if it means he takes advantage of someone else along the way.  For Mark McGwire to find this behavior troubling shows that, even while he may not understand what the word “truth” means, he does show a nice grasp of hypocrisy.

In the meantime, until he’s ready to actually come completely clean and to admit that he knew exactly what he was doing when he was on the juice, and that he knew exactly how much his passing of Roger Maris in 1998 was due to that steroid use (just as one example), then my sincere hope is that McGwire just learns to say “no comment” again and shut the hell up.  He’s not doing himself any favors with his continuing efforts to try and play us all for buffoons with short-memories and a propensity to forgive.

Must ... remember ... B.S. ... excuses ...

It’s been pretty obvious that McGwire’s sudden conversion to telling the “truth” at all was a result of his horrible Hall Of Fame voting totals he’s received since he’s been eligible on the ballot, as well as the cold shoulder that the game itself has given him since his embarrassing performance on Capitol Hill.  Not surprisingly, given everything else he’s done to this point, his recent admissions have been — like his steroid use during his playing days — self-serving, first and foremost.  His goal, I’m sure, is to try and work himself back into the good graces of those who vote for Cooperstown — but for now, he’ll have to settle for a well-deserved Ro-Sham-Bo Award instead (for which, thankfully, no drug testing is required).  Enjoy it, Mark — if there’s any justice, that’s all you’ll ever end up ever getting.

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Just Another Random Sunday

Posted in MLB Baseball, News/Current Events, Olympics, Personal, Rants, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2010 by thelasthonestman

This guy knew exactly how I felt

After the troubles I had with my computer late on Friday night, I’m actually feeling pretty lucky to even be here to talk about anything today.  Just before going to bed, I was net-surfing some of my usually online haunts when pop-up windows begin to litter my screen.  They were supposedly there to warn me of impending doom at the hands of “viruses” that were apparently attacking my computer, though all there were doing in actuality was freezing up my screen.

I knew something was fishy from the start, as I have both anti-virus and spyware programs — and none of the warnings were coming from them.  Coupled with the language in the warnings, which was the grammatically incorrect phrases that I’ve seen in phishing e-mails before (like one pop-up telling me “you computer” is infected0 and I was pretty sure that the warnings were the problem my computer was suddenly having.    Running my spybot check and my antivirus program revealed a malware program called Fraud.SysGuard on my system somehow, but neither could initially fix the problem.  So I spent the next four and a half hours fighting through a combination of solutions — including a system restore — before I felt comfortable that I’d rid myself of the pesky problem.  Here’s me hoping none of you end up with the same issue (which I’ve since learned has been a widespread problem lately).

— The big news story of the weekend was the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, but it was the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili that has overshadowed all of the competition so far. Kumaritashvili was killed when he wiped out on the last curve of a practice run Friday, the accident sending him careening uncontrollably through the air before he struck a metal poll off the side of the final straightaway.

Apparently, there were concerns voiced by several of the athletes about the track being dangerous, but it took this tragic accident for any changes to be made: now, among them, the luge competitors will start their runs from lower down on the track (which will lead to slower speeds), and the wall on the final turn where the accident took place has been raised, blocking the deadly poles that killed Kumaritashvili.  Better late than never, I guess.

For my own part, I had two immediate thoughts about the incident.  The first was my being surprised to see the actual footage of the accident displayed — videos that ran all the way through the impact that killed Kumaritashvili.  I’m watching a debate unfold on a baseball message board I frequent about the merits of showing the accident in its entirety.  I’ve heard it described as one step short of a snuff film —  I watched it once, and I have no intent of seeing it again; seeing it that one time was more than enough to make me feel incredibly uneasy, uncomfortable, and a little sick to my stomach.

My second thought was that I don’t need to see the actual footage to realize that something in the track design was incredibly flawed;  the reason being that, just a still photo of the area surrounding the last turn — with the metal support girders in plain view just a few feet off to the side of the edge of the run — was more than enough for me to shake my head in disbelief.  Metal posts — something akin to what you’d see in building construction — that close to the track … really?  Forget padding them — hitting padded posts at 90 miles per hour is still going to result in similar, serious injuries.  Whose brilliant idea was it to design the track with that feature in mind in the first place?   What’s next — spikes and flaming lava surrounding the run too?

— And finally, former Chicago White Sox (and Oakland A’s and Toronto Blue Jays) slugger Frank Thomas, known as the “Big Hurt” throughout his career, announced his retirement this weekend.  Thomas ends his career as one of the greatest sluggers in the history of the game:  in addition to his .301 average and 521 HR (18th all-time), Thomas also posted a ridiculous .974 career OPS, good for 15th all-time.  Across numerous lifetime statistical offense categories, Thomas is surrounded by names that are the all-time greats of the sport:  Williams, Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx and others.  While his defense was sub-par and he was a pretty bad baserunner, Thomas was the greatest pure hitter of his generation and one of the most feared men at the plate of all time.

What’s more, Thomas was an outspoken advocate for steroid testing in the sport, and unlike many of his peers (Bonds, Ramirez, A-Rod, and McGwire for starters), Thomas achieved his remarkable numbers cleanly.  He was the only active baseball player to be interviewed during the preparation of the Mitchell Report, something he did so of his own accord while many players around him ducked and dodged the inquiry into the sport’s seedier side with as much energy as they’d exerted during their careers themselves.  Thomas wasn’t the most charismatic of players, but no one can make an intelligent argument that he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible.  As a lifelong White Sox fan, I can’t wait to see the greatest hitter in Chicago baseball history take his place in Cooperstown.

— Tomorrow:  My memory of The Greatest Boxing Upset of all Time (computer cooperation needed, of course).   See you then!

Weekend Wrapup Returns

Posted in Comic Books, Entertainment, MLB Baseball, Movies, News/Current Events, Sports, Television, The Wrapups with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2010 by thelasthonestman

And it’s on to the weekend — and some quickie thoughts on subjects in the news:

Now that I'm done helping destroy NBC's prime-time schedule, I'll get back to putting you to sleep when I'm supposed to be doing it -- and not sooner

— Jay Leno is … the bad guy?  It’s certainly feeling like that these days.  In the sequel to the Late Night War that once saw Leno selected in a then-controversial decision over David Letterman to succeed the legendary Johnny Carson as the host of the Tonight Show, it looks like Leno’s disastrous foray into prime-time will be coming shortly to a merciful end.  This occurred after ratings for Leno’s five-night-a-week-suckfest cratered so badly (NBC was expected a ratings hit, but nothing of the magnitude that Leno “delivered”), that affiliates across the country — possibly as many as a quarter of them — were preparing to issue NBC an ultamatum of their own: lose Leno’s show, or be prepared to watch them abandon it themselves for reruns of Seinfeld and whatever else the local stations could program on their own.

Faced with an affiliate revolt, NBC had no choice but to pull the plug on the ill-conceived Leno vehicle — but the decision to shift Leno back into the 11:30 EST time slot — and to bump Conan back 30 minutes — has created more problems.  O’Brien has rejected the change in time for his own show, and now things are apparently headed for an ugly divorce between Leno’s heir and the network — which will possibly land Conan with upwards of $30 million, and should leave him free from his contract and available to pursue a show at a rival network, possibly FOX.

If nothing else, this drama has proven to be more entertaining already than anything Leno was throwing out there, and if early public sentiment is an indication, people are viewing Leno as the heavy (and NBC as the accomplice).  What does it mean for Leno’s ratings, if he returns as the host of the Tonight Show?  Probably not a whole lot, but if Conan ends up with a competing show, it’s almost certainly going to be pulling audience primarily from Leno; if you were watching Letterman or Jimmy Kimmel already, you’re likely not going to be watching Conan now — O’Brien’s audience will be what he takes with him from NBC.

The clear winner here so far is O’Brien, whose show has seen its ratings increase as this has played out.  Long-term, it may be Letterman who sees The Late Show cement itself as the top show in the late-night wars.  What can’t be disputed though, is that The Tonight Show isn’t what it once was, and the name doesn’t bring forth the feelings it used to (and hasn’t, even before O’Brien took over for Leno less than a year ago).  The Tonight Show that a lot of people grew up with ended when Johnny Carson stepped down — and now, after all of this current turmoil has passed, it’ll be a successor to Carson’s juggernaut in name only.

— For me, this week couldn’t have provided a bigger juxtaposition then that of the crisis that’s taking place in Haiti currently and the joke that was a number of Wall Street CEO’s in front of Congress defending, not only their massive irresponsibility in helping create the huge financial crisis we’re still in the middle of, but their own avarice in continuing to pay themselves massive salaries and bonuses, even when having their slimy hands picking the back pocket of the Amercian public that bailed them out.

As the horrors in Haiti unfoled, we saw poverty, despair, and destruction at a level that most of us have never seen before.  Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere — and that was before the massive earthquake of this past week.  After this tragedy which has left tens of thousands dead and a country’s infrastructure in complete ruin, Haiti is in desperate need of any assistance it can get from the international community, in a race where every dollar or supply is literally to save lives that are hanging precariously in the balance.

Maybe some of that aid could come from some of those Wall Street Rip-Off Artists who showed an amazing lack of remorse over their actions which have crippled a large portion of the U.S. economy.  One of those men was Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, who in an incredible understatement said, “We did make mistakes and there were things we could have done better.”  You think?  That’s on par with Lindsey Lohan saying she’s made some bad personal decisions over the last few years and “could have done better”.

Those in positions of power with these mammoth financial institutions — businesses that currently hold far too much influence and control over the lives of the average American citizen — continue to live in a world that has no relation to the one that real people, like you and I, live in — and it’s because of that insulation for the real world and its consequences that we should have no faith that any of them are going to do anything but what’s good for their own wallets — and to hell with the damages they might cause to the general public or the economy itself.  President Obama is looking into new taxes on these banking companies as an answer to the latest reports of obscene profits and bonuses paid, but that won’t be enough to change the climate of greed that permeates these companies to their rotten cores.

The direction for the new Spider-Man movie wasn't really what we were expecting

— The announcement came this week that Spider-Man 4 is DOA, and that in its place, we’ll be looking at a complete “reboot” of the franchise, sending director Sam Raimi and stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst to the curb.  Apparently, disagreements about the future of the film series between Sony and Raimi were too much to smooth over, and the studio has decided to go into a different direction (though still somehow intending to release the next film in the summer of 2012, as originally planned).

I’ve got mixed feelings about this news.  I’d already detailed some of the earlier squabbling between Sony and Raimi and my concerns that the franchise was headed for cinematical disaster.  While I blamed Sony initially, now that there’s more details leaking out about the take Raimi wanted to do with the film, it’s starting to look like taking the series away from Raimi wasn’t such a bad call after all.  The plot (if you want to call it that) sounded like a bad rehash of the 2nd Spider-Man movie, and it would have in all likelihood been worse than Spider-Man 3 was.

But even if you get a new director — and a new star (as Maguire had said he was only interested in returning to the role of Raimi was in the director’s chair) — is that any reason to start completely over again?  If that’s Sony’s approach, then it’s going to be a huge mistake; a reboot of a franchise is only necessary if it’s strayed completely away from its core (Batman and Robin) or if it’s been a suitably long time since the franchise began (rebooting Bond with Casino Royale).  Neither applies to the Spider-man franchise, which is barely a decade old and, the mediocrity of the third film aside, has stayed as true to the vision of Spider-Man as this huge Spidey fan could have hoped for from a big-screen adaptation.  Certainly, there were missed opportunities along the way — and continuity changes for the movies that I wouldn’t have gone with — but, all told, the first two movies were about as good as it gets for superhero fare, and there’s no reason that Sony can’t continue along where the 3rd movie left off.  Cast a new Spidey, go with a new villian (Dylan Baker and the Lizard, for example), bring Dunst back for a well-paid cameo and bump her off (paralleling the loss of Peter parker’s first love, Gwen Stacy, in the comics) — and you’re off and rolling.

Instead, if the early reports are to be believed, Sony looks to be headed on an ill-advised attempt to cash in on the Twlight-phase and turn Spider-Man into some sort of teen drama.  If that’s their approach — and it won’t be surprising, since most movie execs have no respect for the source material or its target audience (which is why Marvel Studios, which does, had such a critical and commercial hit with Iron Man), then they’re going to find themselves with a once-golden franchise that’s been run into the ground.

He's a frog, you say? I can't believe it!

— And finally, there’s Mark McGwire’s “stunning” revelation earlier in the week that he’d taken steroids during his career — an announcement that, as a friend of mine stated, was about as shocking as Kermit coming out and announcing that he’s a frog.

There’s already been a lot of talk about the subject and what it means to McGwire, baseball, and the steroid scandals that have rocked the sport — so there’s not a whole lot I have to add.  Suffice it to say, I’m not surprised he admitted it, as in his eyes, doing so represents the only way he can lessen the distraction he would cause the Cardinals this year as a member of their coaching staff — as well as the only way (he thinks) he might still find election to Baseball’s Hall of Fame someday.

But if I had a vote, it still wouldn’t be coming to him.  It’s my opinion that he still isn’t telling the whole truth about what he used and why he used it, and it’s still clear to me that the whole reason he’s a Hall candidate anyway — the home runs — were in some way fueled by his steroid usage, which makes his entire career output suspect since we’ll never be able to quantify what he would have done without them.  I don’t feel a bit sorry for McGwire — who seemed to be fishing for sympathy in his interviews this past week — since he knew the price of taking illegal steroids (or should have known it) when he did so.  You lived the life of an sports hero for several years because you cheated, Mark (whatever your excuses might be) — now, you’ve paid the price.  As it should be.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone — and we’ll see you on Monday for a look back at the NFL playoff games from this week.

Fantasy Baseball Report Card For 2009

Posted in Fantasy Baseball, MLB Baseball, Sports with tags , , on October 18, 2009 by thelasthonestman

Well, the baseball season is finally over, and all things considered, it didn’t turn out badly for me from a fantasy baseball perspective.  In the three money leagues I played in, I finished in the money in all of them.  Unfortunately, none of those teams was ever a serious contender to win; my biggest disappointment came in my main league, where I needed some good luck in the season’s final week to hold on to the last money spot after coming into the year as the defending champion.  There were too many things that went wrong — and too many bad decisions in each of these leagues to document here (though don’t get me wrong — there were plenty of good decisions as well, or I wouldn’t have ended up as good as I did).

Instead, I thought I would look back at some of my predictions and advice going into the season to see how I fared.  As it turns out, there were some I was right on the money on — and others that I’m left wondering, “Did I really say that?”

Break Out The Champagne

Predicting Billy Butler and Rick Porcello as fantasy sleepers; Predicting Rich Harden, Ervin Santana, and Gary Sheffield as fantasy duds;  Predicting Carlos Delgado as a player taking a step back

Butler was a monster, particularly in the 2nd half, when he hit .314 with 13 HR and 55 RBI and cemented himself as an offensive star of the future in Kansas City.  The 20 year-old Porcello showed a maturity beyond his years all season, posting a solid 3.96 ERA in 170 innings along with 14 wins.  Meanwhile, as predicted, Rich Harden couldn’t stay healthy (though admittedly,  this was  about as hard as predicting that you get wet if you walk outside in the rain).  He threw only 141 IP for the Cubs, and his 4.09 ERA was over two runs a game higher than it was in 2008.  Even worse was Santana, who combined injury with ineffectiveness, as he was lit up to the tune of a 5.03 ERA in his 23 starts, while often looking like he was serving batting practice on the mound.   After signing with the Mets, Sheffield would be reduced to a part-time player who only had value in the deepest of leagues, while his teammate Delgado vanished in May from a hip injury that required surgery, never to return.

Not So Fast My Friend

Predicting Joey Votto, Rickie Weeks, and Jay Bruce to take steps up;  Predicting Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Dempster to take steps backward

These projections, as a whole, actually weren’t too bad, but they weren’t spot-on enough to warrant patting myself too much on the back.  Votto and Weeks looked like they were headed to breakout campaigns before injuries and personal issues (at least in Votto’s case) intervened.  Still, Votto ended the season with outstanding numbers and Weeks would have done the same if not for his season-ending injury (though it ca’t be that surprising, since injuries are a large part of what had held Weeks back prior to this past year).  Bruce was also limited by injuries, but he was struggling mightily at the plate even when he wasn’t hurt (.223 average and 75 strikeouts in 387 plate appearances).  Meanwhile, Ludwick and Dempster weren’t as bad as I thought they might be — but in neither case, did they match their outstanding campaigns of the year before — so in predicting that for both of them, at least, I was right — so we’ll call that a wash.

What The Hell Was I Thinking?

Predicting a breakout year for Alex Gordon;  Predicting Jayson Werth to take a step back;  Predicting Eric Byrnes and Jeremy Hermida to be fantasy sleepers;  Predicting John Lackey and Michael Bourn to be fantasy duds

Nothing more needs to be said about Alex Gordon — my thoughts on the debacle that is his career so far can be found already here.  Meanwhile, Jeremy Hermida is only slightly less of a disappointment — one of the Marlins highly-touted youngsters from several years ago has developed into the next Mark Kotsay, but with a worse batting average and glove.  Not good.  Even on a terrible Arizona team, Byrnes couldn’t make an impact — not only wasn’t the outfielder healthy, but when he was on the field, he didn’t produce.  On the other end of the spectrum was my complete misjudgement on Lackey’s ability to come back after his spring injury woes (he did) and Bourn’s ability to get on base enough to keep his job and rack up the stolen bases ( a more-than-respectable .285 average and .354 on-base percentage led to a NL-leading 61 steals).  Oops.   And I won’t even get into my horrific misfire on Werth, who was fantasy gold (.268-36-99-20-98) for anyone who ignored my advice.

All-in-all, my predictions were hit-and-miss — though let’s be honest here:  I never professed to be perfect.  That’s why for all of us — there’s always next year, right?

What I Learned This Week, Fantasy Edition (6/7)

Posted in Fantasy Baseball, MLB Baseball with tags , on June 7, 2009 by thelasthonestman

The big news in baseball circles this week was the trade of Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth to the Braves for three prospects warm bodies.  Okay — what the Pirates received back from Atlanta may have been better than that, but it’s nothing for Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington to be proud of — and it’s certainly nothing that resembles an “offer that he couldn’t refuse”, as he implied the day of the trade.  I’m not alone in being skeptical of the move; Pirates fans (or what’s left of them at this point) have greeted news of the trade with disdain, and Huntington has been forced by the negative public reaction to issue a statement to the season-ticket holders and fans in an attempt to explain away the trade.

As extinct as fans of the Pirates

As extinct as fans of the Pirates

I’m not buying it.  To paraphrase a comment Mel Kiper once had about the Jets, it’s clear to me at this point that the Pirates front office has no idea as to how to build a competitive team — or maybe, it’s that they don’t really care to.  Either way, it doesn’t really matter.  The long-suffering fans in Pittsburgh have watched as their franchise got their publicly-funded new stadium and their annual revenue from the luxury tax — and yet, none of that money seems to be getting put back either in player contracts or their minor league system.  The commitment they made to McLouth in the form of a contract extension they signed in February — when they claimed to be investing money into their young talent base in order to build a winner — lasted all of two and a half months of the season.  Is their any wonder that die-hard Pirate fans are on their way to becoming as extinct as the Dodo bird?

Huntington must have thought he was trading for this Locke instead

Huntington must have thought he was trading for this Locke instead

So far as the trade goes, it’s a steal for the Braves, who receive a productive outfielder in McLouth who’s signed for a bargain price of only $11 million total for 2010 and 2011 (he’s making a paltry-by-today’s standards $2 million for 2009), with a club option for 2012 (at $10.65 million) and give up no one resembling a top prospect.  The “centerpiece” of the deal, Charlie Morton, had a decidedly unimpressive minor-league pedigree up until last season’s breakthrough in AAA; while he’s shown some flashes at that level over the last year and a half, he was lit up in his 15 starts in Atlanta last year, and my feeling is that he’s not much more than a back-of-the-rotation starter at best — something the Pirates seem to have developed in droves over the last few years.  The other two acquisitions, Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke (isn’t that one of the bigwigs on Lost?), look a whole lot like the Andy LaRoches and Brandon Mosses of past deals, mediocre players who won’t bring a winner to Pittsburgh anytime soon.

The Pirates traded McLouth for WHAT?  Fuck the Pirates, then. Fuck them up their stupid asses.

The Pirates traded McLouth for WHAT? Fuck the Pirates, then. Fuck them up their stupid asses.

What’s even more frustrating (if that’s possible) if you’re a Pittsburgh fan is to see the NL Central apparently wide open (Milwaukee and Cincinnati are both withing striking distance of the lead, and the Pirates were only 6 games out when the trade was made) and to wonder what chances the team might have had to contend if they hadn’t given away Jason Bay last year as well.  To paraphrase a great philosopher from the movie Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, what’s left of the Pirate faithful have to be asking themselves — “When, Lord when? When’s gonna be my time?”  With a front office like this one, probably never.

— If you’re in a league that allows daily lineup changes, an injury that leaves a player with the dreaded “day-to-day” distinction isn’t such a big deal — you can simply bench the player each morning and wait until you see him back in the lineup before reactivating him.

If you’re in a league with weekly transactions, however, there may be nothing quite as frustrating as watching a player who’s “day-to-day” proceed to sit out for the entire week — all while you have better options on your bench that you can’t do anything with.

With that in mind, I give you your fragile — and frustrating — player of the week — Josh Willingham.

Ironically, I was about ready to give Willingham somewhat of a vote of approval before this past week.  After starting the season in a reserve role, Willingham had begun to see some additional playing time due to the demotion of Lastings Milledge and the suckitude of Austin Kearns, and he seemed to be on his way to taking control of an everyday job in Washington.  In the month of May, he’d hit .303 with 8 HR in 76 at-bats with a 1.093 OPS — a solid performance that, considering his presence on waiver wires around much of fantasy baseball, made him an interesting flyer for teams to gamble on if they needed power.  With a hole to fill in my main team’s outfield, I had plucked Willingham off of waivers a couple of weeks ago and had been pleasantly surprised with his production.  I’d even been optimistic that I’d found a long-tern solution in him for the rest of the season.

What I hadn’t counted on, however, was how easily he was going to find himself forced out of the lineup.

Willingham hasn’t played since last Sunday.  Why, those of you who don’t own him might ask?  Was it a strained hamstring, or a torn ligament in his elbow?  Maybe a blown knee, or a sore wrist from being drilled by an errant pitch, robbing him of his power?

Get a bottle ready -- for both Willingham AND his fantasy owners

Get a bottle ready -- for both Willingham AND his fantasy owners

Nope.  Try a frickin’ upset stomach instead.

Apparently, Willingham caught a stomach virus — an ailment that all of us have suffered from at one time or another — though, I’m pretty sure most of us haven’t been as disabled as this “major league athlete” apparently has been.  Willingham returned to the batting cage on Friday, but that didn’t lead to a return to the Nationals lineup.  The missed game count is at six — and worse yet, that could only be the beginning — as some reports have Willingham as a possible candidate for the disabled list now.

Are you kidding me?  There’s plenty of reasons for me to greet this news with what I think is an appropriate amount of disgust.  Maybe I could focus on the fact that, in the weekly moves fantasy league I own him in, I got a whopping zero at-bats from him in the last scoring period while I helplessly had him active, guessing that there would be no way anything short of food poisoning and a hospital trip could keep him out of the lineup this long.  Or maybe I could focus on the fact that I once had a case of food poisoning that was so bad, it required just that — and it nearly killed me (I spent almost a week in the hospital and lost almost 30 pounds from my already svelte frame in the ordeal) — and even I managed to get myself back to my job following that awful experience in a time-frame that looks like it’ll be quicker that Willingham will.   Or maybe I could focus on the fact that millions of us have dealt with what Willingham apparently has and made it to work, even not feeling 100% — while being paid a fraction of what he does for the lucky chance to make a living as a professional athlete.

Maybe the problem isn’t in his stomach at all.  Maybe Willingham might have been able to make his way back into the lineup a little quicker if his team wasn’t a putrid 15-40, and headed for one of the worst seasons in recent memory in the National League.  I’m guessing that, more than some antibiotics or a big bottle of Pepto-Bismol, the thing that would be most likely to make Willingham feel like trudging his way back out onto the field a little faster might be if he were on a team that actually won once in a while.

Then again, playing when you’re not 100% and the team you’re on sucks is supposed to be what being a professional is all about.  If Willingham can’t live up to that, he won’t be the first nor the last player to let the paying customer called the fan down.

This guy and Willingham have a lot in common

This guy and Willingham may have more in common than you first realized

Meanwhile, Willingham’s nickname is reportedly “The Hammer”.  I’m thinking he should go by “The Tin Man” instead.  It’s much more appropriate for a player who I’ll never be confusing with either Lou Gerhig or Cal Ripken in the future.