TRUM: Phone-in Friday Mailbag

April, 13, 2007
It's Friday the 13th -- spooky. Luckily, the rules of the TRUM are that I get to phone it in -- hence the name, Phone-in Fridays.

Cleaning out my inbox. By the way, starting now, you can now cyberstalk me, e-mail me or invite me to your MySpace page at

Time for an edition of "So, you want to be TMR, do you?"

Bryn Gabriel: "I read your 'Dancing With the Stars' column. Nice cheap shot at the amputee. F------ fantasy loser, I hope you choke. Seriously."

TMR: Heather Mills has been very open and had a lot of fun with her participating in DWTS and I was merely playing off that. I appreciate the addition of "seriously." Wasn't sure how to take it otherwise.

Madgame09: "Igawa over Dice-K? You gotta be kidding. You obviously have not watched these guys pitch. I'm sure not gonna listen to you for advice. "

TMR: I was speaking from a value position. I said I'd rather have Igawa in the 17th round than reaching for Matsusaka in the third, which is where both guys were going when I wrote that. Fantasy is all about value. And by the way, I stand by that statement.

Markobretch: "My wife and I viewed your 12-paragraph bio about your fantasy achievements. We laughed out loud. My wife is a neurosurgeon specializing in brain tumors and Parkinson's [disease] and she would never have the audacity to write a bio like yours. You are a tool. Eric Karabell is 100 times the columnist you are; he is humorous, and his writing is intimate and relates to the common man. I read Rotoworld (yes that RW) and ESPN (Eric and Tristan). Stop trying to share the stage with those guys. They are humble, passionate and real. You, sir, just have a chip on your shoulder and it comes across in all your writing. I hope your time here is short."

TMR: So, you're saying I made you laugh?

Bert from Little Rock: "Matthew, I just have to say that I loved you on the 'Fantasy Draft Special.' As much grief as Ravech and the others gave you, you were right most of the time. Those of us who actually know what Tout Wars is love your insight. It is something that has been desperately missing from ESPN. I hope they let you do regular stints on 'Baseball Tonight' throughout the season and don't just banish you to '.com' after opening day."

TMR: I consider being on a thrill, not banished, but I appreciate the kind words. Baseball Tonight's been a good friend to fantasy -- have you seen all those fantasy impact stats they do on their screens? That's cool. And be sure to read Nando DiFino's "Play like the Pros" every Sunday right here on (for free, baby) as he breaks down all the moves in the Tout Wars and ESPN expert leagues, so YOU know what to bid and who to pick up on Sunday night or Monday morning.

Nick: "Hey Matthew, first off let me just say that your fantasy insight is really good, and I find myself agreeing with most of your views in the world of fantasy so big ups to you and keep doing an awesome job, dude. … OK, down to business, the first time I saw that pic the first thing I noticed was that smile. Quite honestly it makes me feel a little uncomfortable, and my girlfriend and I think you could definitely upgrade that pic. And just for the record, I never e-mail any ESPN people so you know. … Take it easy."

TMR: So when you spend time with your girlfriend, you're reading my column? Much love, Nick, but I'm not gonna lie. You guys are doomed. Oh, and I'm driving my buddy Matt Walker crazy here at the Worldwide Leader trying to come up with a noncreepy photo. The chase continues …

Fmk0203: "… TalentedMrRoto. Self proclaimed 'talented.' You should be embarrassed. Your TRUMs are insulting. You don't know much about sports. It's evident that you don't know what you are doing. Do us all a favor and resign. …"

TMR: Nick likes me.

Nelsonba25: "I liked Oliver Beene. I just thought I'd let you know that. And I assume 'Kirk' is something to do with Kirk Cameron, but I'm too lazy to click on the link to check. Damn, kids these days are so lazy. Anyway, I enjoy your fantasy advice. And I'm big on Anthony Reyes this year, for what that's worth. …"

TMR: Well, someone read my IMDB bio. Oliver Beene, interestingly enough, was the worst professional experience of my life and it was after that I decided to get out of show business and concentrate on trying to make a career of fantasy sports. So, you know, if you're looking for something to blame.

Kent Stermon: "Idea for a screenplay. This really talented young guy who has an extremely bright future gets the most high-profile job in his entire industry. The minute he gets there things go to hell in a hurry -- he gets fired and is the laughingstock of his industry. His peers and his customers kind of feel sorry for him the rest of his life -- one bad career move, too much too soon maybe? You should write it because I predict if you do not get a few things straightened out in a hurry, it will be a story very close to your heart."

TMR: I only write sequels that don't need to be made and are 16 years too late.

Jason: Dear Talented One, congratulations on coming to ESPN. I've been a fan of yours for some time now. I have a suggestion on a new name for TRUM - how about TRUISMs (Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless Information, and Some Musings)? I just think it's better if acronyms spell out real words and in this case it would suggest a proverbial nature to your commentary. Hopefully, this contributes further to your great work. If not, whatever."

TMR: If I limit myself to only "some" musings, we're gonna have a lot of white space.

Student Journalist: "Dear Mr. Berry, my name is David Julian, I'm a student journalist at Davis High School in Davis, California. I am writing an article for our school newspaper about fantasy sports and I was wondering if I could ask you a couple questions: How did you become a fantasy expert for ESPN? What do you like about fantasy sports? What do you think the appeal of fantasy sports are to people? Thanks for your time."

TMR: Here are your answers …

1. I've been playing since I was very, very young (started in 1983) and in 1999 I got a job writing for a popular Web site. In 2004, I started my own Web site, I started doing some radio hits for an ESPN Radio station in Los Angeles about fantasy. That led to me making appearances on "Cold Pizza" and ESPNEWS and writing for ESPN The Magazine. All of those things went well and then this year, ESPN bought my Web site and hired me full-time.

2. I love the camaraderie and competition with my friends, I love having a rooting interest in every game, I love the strategy and, now that I have this job, I love giving advice, helping folks with their teams and just talking and writing about fantasy.

3. The same things I love - the competition, the community feel, the rooting interest in every game … Good luck with your article!

Marc Hodges: "I went into my draft last week with 'NEVER PAY FOR SAVES! NEVER!' block printed sadistically all over my cheat sheets. I even saw a mock draft with Pete Becker where he drafted in a 15-man league and did not take one closer. So I figure I should do the same.

"I racked up what I think to be a pretty potent team in a 12-man league and the only closer I drafted was Brad Lidge (which was a gamble that might not pay out). So what in the heck do I do now that I don't have any closers? Every single team's estimated closer was gobbled up during the draft. I'm thinking that I might be panicking right now and probably should be able to round up a few closers soon enough but I'm scared. I also figure to be competitive in a 12-man league I probably just need two or three, so just tell me to remain calm.

"And I don't think Brad Lidge is done. I think Dan Wheeler is worse than Lidge. You can't really judge a closer on one run scored in one inning. The Astros need to score more runs. Anyway, any advice or comfort would be nice."

TMR: The comfort and advice is the same: It's a long season. You just have to dig a little deeper. Surely no one owned Joakim Soria before a few days ago? Henry Owens was gone? I should clarify that when I say "Never Pay for Saves" it doesn't mean you blow them off entirely, but rather that instead of using an early-round draft pick or big money on Joe Nathan or K-Rod, you can get a cheap-o guy like Joe Borowski or Todd Jones very easily. In addition to guys like the two names I just mentioned, Matt Capps is gonna get a shot soon, and I wouldn't be surprised if Mike Stanton in Cincy gets a shot very soon if David Weathers blows one or two more … there's always guys. You just gotta be diligent.

The other comforting fact about saves is it's one of the easiest categories to make up ground quickly in. So, if all else fails, you can make a deal at the All-Star break for a top-line closer.

Douglas Hamilton III: "I just wanted to pass along a quick compliment. You're new to ESPN and yet you've been right out on the front lines and personally taking all the heat for the technical problems you guys have been having. I can't say I feel the anger, since my league plays on [another site], but I am an Insider subscriber and have really enjoyed all the fantasy baseball coverage for two years now.

"I think your TRUM is a great addition to the lineup; as you indicated in today's TRUM, largely on your advice, I picked up Joakim Soria and profited instantly. I like that the TRUM addresses many specific issues quickly, offering a counterbalance to Karabell's column, which goes into a bit more detail (which is also appreciated). You guys have a great advice lineup, addressing a great variety of topics from a great variety of angles, and the twice-daily chats are spectacular. Keep up the good work.

"In any event, as someone who has to put my own butt on the line in my business, I can sympathize with your position in this mess, and I respect the class, dignity and graciousness with which you've handled it."

TMR: Thanks, Douglas. Glad you like the additional chats and added fantasy content. Those kind of things, plus much more that's coming down the pike in terms of content, advice, features and analysis is part of the reason ESPN bought my TalentedMrRoto site.

Cwolf24: "Hello. Big fan -- consistent reader. I'm in a 5x5, 12-team, NL-only league and have Brad Lidge. As many, I am very concerned with him. My other relievers are Valverde, Madsen, Medders, Lincecum and Qualls. My corner infielders are pretty weak (Pujols, Nunez, LaRoche, Graffanino, Blum) and I was offered either Chipper or Delgado for Lidge. Should I take the trade? Which one of the two should I grab? Thanks. "

TMR: This was dated April 4 and with so many e-mails, I just got to this now. I say take it! You're welcome!

Cyberstalk the TMR:



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