by Eric Freeman Jr., Special to BaseballEvolution.com
December 20, 2006
|Pitchers are supposed to improve with age, Brad|| |
2001 was my first season of fantasy baseball. I
was swept into a world where it didn’t matter whether or not the Cubs won that
day, as long as Ricky Gutierrez got me some fantasy points. Division standings
and wild-card races took second place to my unquenchable thirst for fantasy
points. Needless to say, I sucked (and the entire Baseball Evolution staff will
tell you that I still suck) at fantasy baseball, constantly trading for
“promising” players, only to be racked by injuries, suspensions, and Tim
Wakefield. But there was some satisfaction to be had from the experience, and
his name was Brad William Radke.
Four years removed from what would be his only
20-win season in 1997, Brad Radke appeared to me at the top of the free agent
standings, and he looked good. Sure, after his only good year, he amassed three
straight 12 win seasons, and his career ERA hovered around the 4 mark. Anyone
else with common sense would have stayed away. They would have seen the tendency
for mediocrity, and would have not clicked on “Add to Team.” But I only saw a
28-year-old pitcher on a solid team that would eventually get it together and
start challenging for the division. Ah, to be 14 years old, pining after a
relatively solid pitcher on a team I couldn’t care any less about.
I hate you, Brad William Radke.
I hate you with a passion. Even more than I
hate the Yankees, even more than I hate the designated hitter (which, F.Y.I.
Radke, only intensifies my hatred for you). I owned Radke as he posted a solid
15-11 record with a 3.94 ERA, and my favorite stat: 6 complete games. I’m a
sucker for league leaders in complete games (see Hernandez, Livan). But Radke’s
individual starts did not reflect his overall performance.
Whenever Radke was scheduled to take the hill,
I only had one thought: “Radke’s gonna dominate. Let’s go B-Rad-Rad!!” The
nickname never worked, and neither did the pitcher. I bore witness to countless
disappointing matchups against the Devil Rays, Tigers, and Royals, resulting in
home runs, blowouts, and Radke walking off the hill thinking to himself, “I just
got traded in about 200 leagues today.”
The pinnacle “I Hate You” moment occurred in
late April of 2003. I just picked up Radke, in a seven player trade that ridded
me of some dude named Halladay. Yes, that Halladay. I traded the eventual Cy
Young winner of the AL for one of my favorite fantasy players. It worked for a
while, as Radke netted a couple wins together. Meanwhile, Halladay was
UNHITTABLE. Throughout May and June, the Blue Jays were 14-0 when Halladay
started, and his record at the break was a not-so-dismal 12-2.
Radke, on the other hand, went two whole months
without winning. And it wasn’t that he was pitching poorly that got to my head.
It was that he decided to stink against teams that already stunk. If the
Diamondbacks smelled like a trash can, Radke’s performance against them on June
15 reeked of a giant field of cow manure covered in used baby diapers. Halladay
stepped into a park and just beat you. Radke resembled a three-year old case of
eggs sitting at the bottom of Oscar the Grouch’s home.
To be honest, I never knew why I focused so
much anger at Radke. He really was a solid player on a good team, and I picked
him up whenever he was in the middle of sucking. I should have been mad at
myself, or even depressed that I didn’t know (and still don’t know) how to win
at fantasy baseball. Maybe it was all bad luck, or maybe there’s a conspiracy
against me. But I refuse to believe that he was actually a good pitcher. He was
just good enough on a division winner, and one must be careful when picking up
players with deceptive records. Look past the stats, look past the points, and
eventually, you will have success in fantasy baseball. But until Pedro Feliz,
Jamie Moyer, and Tim “Freaking” Wakefield all retire, I will still be angry at
you, Brad William Radke, and I hope you stay retired.
At least, until I’m in last place again.
This article was written by a guest contributor to BaseballEvolution.com. You can be one as well. Mail your articles to email@example.com.