TRUM: Vegas, baby, Vegas

August, 1, 2007
Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless information and Musings for Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007.

Dude, I am trade talked out.

After writing a lot of the fantasy spins for the site plus doing a bunch of the fantasy analysis of the trades -- talking about them on the podcast, the radio, "Baseball Tonight," First Take, ESPNEWS, our Fantasy Focus videocast -- I am talked out about it. Buster Olney is a machine.

I'm not complaining, I'm just explaining why today's TRUM is not going to be about the trades. At least about the players involved. At this point, you know who you want to bid on and who you can continue to ignore (Morgan Ensberg, I'm looking at you).

It's Aug. 1, so we'll get to some fantasy football in a bit. But not a lot of baseball today and I'll tell you why in four words:

Viva Las Vegas, baby.

On my way to Sin City for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference, where I'll talk about fantasy, ESPN, ESPN Fantasy and take part in an expert draft. This is my job. I'm pretty sure I'm making this up.

So unless something goes horribly wrong, this is the last TRUM you'll get from me this week. I will be way too busy; I intend to network and promote ESPN Fantasy hard the next two days to my peers in the fantasy industry. And if that means I have to work long hours schmoozing with them at cool nightclubs, expensive restaurants and other great places that Vegas has to offer, I'll do it. After all, I am nothing if not a team player.

I have to fly to Los Angeles for a meeting (Phrase I never thought I'd hear: "We need you in L.A. on Friday. They want to meet the TMR.") and then I'll stay there to once again say hello to folks at my old stomping grounds. I may or may not go to Mitch Kupchak's office to yell at him for not getting Kevin Garnett.

The point of all that, other than just dropping that I'll be in Vegas and Los Angeles the next four days, is that I'm on a plane as I write this. Had to leave at 4:30 this morning to catch a 7 a.m. flight after a long day yesterday. So I can't write anything intelligent about baseball today.

Go ahead, take the layup. So how's this different than any other day, Matthew?

Two stories from yesterday's trade deadline. The first story involves Tout Wars, which I am neck and neck in. For those unfamiliar, Tout Wars is a pretty famous fantasy baseball "expert" league that was featured in the book "Fantasyland," by Sam Walker. I'm in the 12 team, AL-only, 5x5 league, which has 29-man rosters plus a DL. Needless to say, it goes deeeeep.

Anyways, I am currently in second place -- four points out of first. Jeff Erickson of Rotowire holds the top slot and those four points could easily swing so I was in first by two or he was up by 12. Tons of categories are bunched up and yesterday was our trade deadline as well.

So I made another deal, a smaller one this time, sending Brendan Harris to Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus for Dustin McGowan. I have Miguel Tejada and Tony Pena Jr. for my shortstop and middle infield slots. So, although Harris could have played a utility slot for me, I didn't feel he was a big enough upgrade over the other guys I have there. (Currently Shelley Duncan).

I decided to take a small hit in offense to improve in pitching -- wins and strikeouts are all bunched up and points are there for the taking. We'll see if it works out, but I'm true to my word. You know I love me the D-Mac.

The second story is about hanging out on the "Baseball Tonight" set during the trade deadline special. Now THAT was cool. The idea was that I'd come on at the beginning and discuss the fantasy implications of the trades that had already happened (This just in: NL guys want to get Mark Teixeira), and then I'd hang out and give instant fantasy analysis about any deals that came along during the show.

So I was in the "research" area with Buster Olney, just off the set where Karl Ravech, Peter Gammons and Steve Phillips were (they were later joined by John Kruk). I know this sounds dumb to say, but it was amazing to see just how connected these guys were -- especially Gammons, Phillips and Olney. They were literally working the phones while checking e-mails and BlackBerrys. Every commercial break they'd trade information back and forth very quickly. It went something like this.

Buster: Just got off the phone with (GM you've heard of). They just lost out on Dotel and now they're going after (a player that ended up not getting traded) as part of a three-team deal, but he won't tell me who the third team is.

Gammons: I'm on the phone with (another GM you've heard of). They heard that too and think it's (team you've heard of).

Phillips: (looks at his e-mail) Guess who (team that just made a trade) got offered for (player that just went in a deal to another team). (Names of player better than the guy(s) the team got).

Olney: They passed on that?

Phillips: I don't get it either.

Gammons: Dodgers are still looking.

Olney: The Blanton thing? Just got a note about that. Listen to who they're talking about&

And on and on it went. I have no idea if what I just wrote above is anywhere close to actual quotes, but it was all stuff like that for three hours. So cool. It was like going to a foreign country, listening to a foreign language and then realizing that you actually understand what everyone's saying. And they're not looking at you like you're some stupid tourist.

That's the other thing that's been really cool, I have to say. When I usually do my fantasy segments on shows, they're rarely live. They are usually taped in advance, alone, etc&

So it was very cool when I walked in and two things happened. One, Buster, Steve, Karl, Peter all were like "Hey Matthew" "How's it going?" etc. The other cool part is that it was just very casual. Like, they expected me to be there. It wasn't a big deal or anything. They greeted me the way they greet each other. So that was very cool.

Because I know fantasy is important. And you know it's important. But it's cool when they know it's important. And part of the game? You know?

OK, now to football. A version of the below appears in the current issue of ESPN The Magazine. Enjoy and if you see me in Vegas, say hi.


They say knowledge is power. Of course, they also say money is power. And there are those who believe power is power. But I'm sticking with knowledge being power, mostly because it's the best fit for the premise of this column.

As we start doing our fantasy football prep work, here's five facts you probably didn't know, but should:

1. Despite being a starting running back for only eight games last year, there were only 12 running backs with more rushing yards last year than Ladell Betts.
2. Only eight teams had more rushing touchdowns last year than the New York Jets. And that was with Leon Washington and Kevan Barlow. This year, they have Thomas Jones.
3. Larry Johnson had 2,199 total yards last year, and he touched the ball 477 times. By comparison, Frank Gore had 2,180 total yards, and he touched the ball 373 times.
4. Only 10 running backs had more fantasy points last year than Joseph Addai. And that production came in spite of him splitting time with Dominic Rhodes.
5. Only six quarterbacks scored more fantasy points than Donovan McNabb last year, and he played in only 10 games.

Cyberstalk the TMR

Matthew Berry | email

ESPN Senior Writer
• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"



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