Vogelsong and the Rudy Effect

McGILLIGAN – There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like about Ryan Vogelsong last season. From his fantasy numbers after I plucked him off the waiver wire to his story that was chronicled in Showtime’s The Franchise TV show. Ryan Vogelsong helped save my fantasy season last year. I had under-performing hurlers and a rash of injuries.

Picking up Vogelsong covered up some of those deficiencies and I rightly or wrongly began to see him as a saviour and believing he did things he may or may not have done.

He was 13-7 with 139 strikeouts, 2.71 ERA and 1.252 WHIP for the San Francisco Giants. Good numbers, but not the kind you would have thought he had if you heard my pronouncements last season. I was openly wondering why he wasn’t getting Cy Young consideration, was sure he would win every time he went to the mound and I was positive he wold be a main stay in my fantasy rotation for years to come.

So when this year’s draft came around what did I do?

Nothing, he was selected by another team and although it pained me to see him go, I believe it was the rational thing to do.

I fell in love with Vogelsong’s story and his above average season cemented him in my mind as a main stay for years to come. I believe this is a problem that can plague people in fantasy leagues. You fall in love with a player for irrational reasons. Perhaps you saw them play in person and they performed unbelievably well, they wore the same number as you, or any other number of foolish reasons to select someone based on anything but sound reason.

Here’s an example: When I was a kid on a trip to Florida my dad took me to a spring training game between the Yankees and Astros. Jeff Bagwell had just come off his rookie of the year campaign and took a few at bats in the contest.

As a youngster, I crowded with other kids for an autograph from the man we were calling out to as Mr. Bagwell. He said he would return to sign things after he changed. We hung by the fence waiting for his return, but when he came out, he got into a car and left. No autographs, nothing.

In the same game, Yankees young slugger Kevin Maas smashed a homerun that landed in a duck pond beyond the wall of the left centre wall that had to be the longest homerun I’ve ever seen hit.

I ended up loving Maas and hating Bagwell and had I been part of a fantasy league I would have irrationally chosen Maas while not even entertaining the possibility of Bagwell playing for me.

Now, how stupid would that have been. Maas couldn’t hit a curveball and washed out while Bagwell was a perennial all-star.

Sure, you say I was just a kid, I wouldn’t do that now. Really, I hate Johnny Damon for going from the Red Sox to the Yankees – to this day it still annoys and I’m a grown man.

When it comes to sports, like many men, I can get emotionally invested and make dumb decisions. Which brings me back to Vogelsong.

His solid play and story of being out of the majors since2006 before making a last ditch comeback that resulted in an All-Star appearance was a great one, truly the kind of Rudy story we all root for.

(NOTE: I use Rudy as the term for any emotionally moving sports story, Joe Montana and his myth crushing be damned.)   

So I had to make a tough decision at the draft. I needed to make sure I thought with my head on Vogelsong not my heart. Here’s the thing, He’ll turn 34 this year and had one good season. Strike one. He’s dealing with some lower back issues this spring. Strike two. He won’t have the Showtime cameras to give him the Rudy treatment, thus taking emotions out of the equation. Strike three, I’m out.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Vogelsong having a good season and proving me wrong. It’s just that I would rather that happen than pick him for my team and have my head proved right and my heart wrong.

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