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May 24 - Bizarro Jerry

My Fantasy Baseball team, which goes by the very un-PC moniker of Jerry's Kids, went a combined 5-for-
26 (.179) the other night with two RBI, seven strikeouts and two double plays. All three starting pitchers I
had going that day were tagged with losses, surrendering a combined 13 runs, 22 hits, four home runs
and eight walks in 21 1/3 innings.  

With guys like Richard Hidalgo (.206) and Mark Bellhorn (.228) fixtures in the lineup and Jose Contreras
and Jason Jennings anchoring the rotation, you'd expect numbers like these.

And I couldn't have been happier as it was the best performance of any team in the league that day.

How can that be, you wonder?

Welcome to the Bizarro League.

Now, I'm not the obsessive fantasy-leaguer who has to have four leagues going at once in every sport.
I've probably played about 10 fantasy seasons in my life, baseball and football combined. I like it
because it keeps me more aware of players and teams that I might otherwise not learn about,
especially in the NL.

So, this spring, searching on Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball for a low-intensity league, I discovered a gem -
the Bizarro League, named for the famed Seinfeld episode in which right is wrong and wrong is right.
Instead of rewarding teams for the traditional baseball superlatives of home runs, RBI, wins, ERA, etc.,
in the Bizarro League, you accrue points when your players compile negative batting statistics like
strikeouts, DP's and caught stealings and such pitching categories as runs, walks, hits and hit batters.  

You even get points for errors and times your own batters get hit. Brilliant!

It's a completely different type of draft - what other league had Brian Anderson, Julio Lugo or Bellhorn
anywhere near its first round? Since you accrue points for the bad stats and earn points just for starting
a game, you can't just pick guys who won't play. You need them to play a lot - just not well. Jason LaRue,
come on down!

Jerry's Kids (which narrowly escaped being dubbed the Cecilio Guante All-Stars) currently stand in
second place. Bellhorn, even having missed around 10 games with an injury, is still right in the hunt for
the “MVP” (or should it be “LVP,” we haven't decided). Brad Wilkerson, who I nabbed in the 3rd round,
has been my stud, “earning” 950 points to lead all position players in the league. Christian Guzman is
next with 910 for the appropriately named Strict Nine. My second-rounder Jennings leads all pitchers
with 672 points, narrowly ahead of Paul Wilson, who toils for the Sultans of Suck.

I know that a lot of baseball purists are against fantasy leagues of all kinds, and there are instances
where the conflict between your favorite team and your fantasy team can cause some stress. I
remember a college buddy and HUGE Yankee fan cheering wildly when a nondescript Mariner - maybe
Greg Briley? - homered to beat the Yanks, to the bewildered looks of the rest of us. But I think Fantasy
Baseball is a good thing because it increases interest in the game among fans and improves their
knowledge of the league as a whole.

If you play fantasy and want something a little different (and much less stressful), try a Bizarro-type
league.

Wilfredo Ledezma will thank you later.