Fantasy Fever: So Long Sweet Lou From image

Fantasy Fever: So Long Sweet Lou

Honoring One of Baseball's Best

By Joel Beall,
August 25th, 2010

Louis Victor Piniella, more lovingly referred to as "Sweet Lou" by the baseball community, retired Sunday after logging 41 years in the big leagues, 23 in the managerial role. Piniella walks away ranked 14th on the all-time wins list and was an integral part of three World Series teams. However, Sweet Lou will be remembered for his explosive tirades at umpires, which included kicking dirt, hat tossing, the occasional discus throw of a base, and enough profanity to make George Carlin blush.

Unfortunately, we can't properly pay our respects to Piniella in the forum of fantasy sports. But Piniella's departure begs the question: what IF managers could be included in fantasy baseball? Is this proposal asinine? Arguably, but most fantasy football leagues include kickers in their roster settings, and those schmucks are glorified soccer players. If someone like Ryan Succop can affect your performance in football, who's to say Cito Gaston shouldn't be allowed to have the same impact? Keeping this in mind, here are some statistical categories for evaluating managers in fantasy baseball:

Wins By Payroll: C'mon, "wins" is too elementary and dull for our taste. In an age where stats like W.A.R., UZR, and BAPIP are all the rage, our first category takes total wins by a manager and accounts for a club's payroll in order to act as an equalizer. In this sense, a manager is rewarded for doing "more with less." Bud Black would be the Albert Pujols of this category.

Red Hots

Sweet Lou Lou and umpires saw eye to eye

Pinch-Hit Conversion Rate: Granted, this category heavily favors National League managers, but I'll be damned if I'm going to cater to the DH rule, which is bastardized baseball. (Honestly, how the hell, in 2010, do we have different lineup regulations for the AL and NL? Can you imagine the NFL allowing kickers in the AFC but not NFC, or the NBA banning the 3-point line for Eastern Conference home games? My head hurts.) Anyway, whenever a pinch-hitter successfully gets on-base, the manager is awarded a point.

Littles: Negative points are assessed when managers are guilty of keeping starters in too long. Named after former skipper Grady Little, who infamously let Pedro Martinez attempt to finish the 8th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS despite going over 100 pitches and giving up three straight hits to Yankee hitters.

One-Run Wins: A good gauge of a team's aptitude is their performance in closely contested ballgames. An impressive mark in one-run games is an indicator of a team cool under pressure, a sentiment that is usually an extension from their manager.

Sparkys: The antitheses of Littles, managers are rewarded for taking their starters out early and handing the game to their bullpen. Admittedly, you need a combination of starters who are inefficient with their pitch counts and a strong stable of relievers to dominate this stat. Named for Sparky Anderson, who earned the nickname "Captain Hook" for taking out his starters at the first sign of decline.

Coxes: Points honored for managers getting tossed out of games, bonus if the ejection spurs his team to victory. Named for Bobby Cox, the all-leader in managerial ejections.

Piniellas: Like Coxes, only if the manager proceeds to execute an act worthy of Youtube fame. Although Sweet Lou's merits for Cooperstown will surely be debated, there's no disputing Piniella was one of baseball's finest characters. And what better way to enshrine his memory than with a statistic honoring his shtick?

Start 'em: Omar Infante, Braves. In July, Charlie Manuel's All-Star selection of Infante received universal condemnation. Although he was hitting .309 at the time of his nomination, Omar's150 at-bats were more akin to a scrub rather than a star. However, it appears the Philadelphia manager channeled his inner Nostradamus, as Infante has been Atlanta's MVP through five months of 2010. Despite losing staring stalwarts like Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus, and Martin Prado to extended trips on the DL, the Braves have managed to stay atop the AL East thanks to the uber-utility man Infante. Since August 13, Infante has gone 22-for-47 with 12 runs scored.

Sit 'em: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees. The New York 3rd baseman went on the 15-DL with a calf injury.

Fantasy Flashback: 1969 Bob Gibson. While his '68 campaign is often cited as the greatest season ever by a pitcher (1.12 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 13 Shutouts), it is Gibson's 1969 performance that warrants mentioning. The 1968 season was so dominated by pitching excellence that the mound was lowered five inches to give batters a fighting chance. Gibson, undoubtedly taking offense to this change at his expense, proceeded to win 20 games while supporting a 2.18 ERA. Better yet, he compiled a league-leading 28 complete games in 1969, while fanning 269 batters. The moral of the story: don't f*$% with Bob Gibson.

Ivan Nova

Waiver Wire Watch: Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers. Kuo has been named the new Dodgers closer as Jonathan Broxton continues to implode. Kuo is owned in just 33% of leagues, so for those looking for a saves boost, Kuo is your man. Just beware of the potential karma ramifications for crossing Broxton.

Rookie Review: Ivan Nova, Yankees. The New York rookie pitched admirably in his first career start against Toronto, surrendering just two runs in 5.1 innings. Even more impressive was Nova throwing a heater over Blue Jay Jose Bautista's head after Bautista hit a homer in his first at-bat. Bob Gibson would have been proud.

This Week in Jonathan Broxton: After four straight scoreless appearances, all appeared to be right in the world. Unfortunately for Broxton, he ran into Joey Votto over the weekend, correlating to a 0.2 IP, 2 run Sunday performance. Look for Broxton to head back to the set-up role for the rest of the season.

Big League Chew Player of the Week: Gio Gonzalez, A's. In his last two starts, Gio has gone 14 innings, allowing just one run while rocking a 0.86 WHIP. On the season, Gonzalez has a 3.24 ERA and an 11-8 mark.

Spit Your Tobacco At: Francisco Rodriguez, Mets. The volatile closer will miss the rest of the season due to an injury sustained during an altercation with his girlfriend's father in the Mets' clubhouse. In his defense, you'd want to hurt yourself too if you had to play for the Mets.

Dumb and Dumber Quote of the Week: Lloyd: Harry! You're alive! And you're a horrible shot!

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