Monday, April 13, 2009

Remembering My Fantasy Baseball Antichrist

I've been playing fantasy baseball now for about 6 years. And in that time, I've had good teams and bad. Good players and crappy ones. But I've never owned anyone that challenged my will to live more than ex-Orioles closer Jorge Julio.

You see, it seemed every year for 3 straight years I ended up with Julio on my roster. Looking back now, you may be asking: why did you let Jorge Julio anywhere near your fantasy roster? Well, remember, Julio was the Orioles closer back in the day and actually posted decent saves numbers for a couple of years.

But man, he came with a huge Buyer Beware tag. To be honest, part of the reason I ended up with Julio so often was because he was so predictable. He was going to end up with 25-35 saves and at least 500 heart palpatations and 5 broken remote controls. You could always tell a bad Julio outing right from the get-go. His first pitch would be a slider that would bounce 5 feet in front of home plate. Then he'd throw another slider that would bounce 8 feet in front of home plate. Keep in mind that Jorge threw a 97 mph fast ball. Behind 2-0 in the count, Julio would try to crank up the fastball and overthrow it, usually 6 feet over the hitters head or half a mile outside. And that would be all she wrote. Pretty much an automatic blown save and Orioles loss.

Not only that, but much like his forefathers Doug Jones, Mike Timlin and Armando Benitez, you could always count on Julio imploding in a big spot. The guy was like the A-Rod of closers: he would go 1-2-3 with a 3-run lead in a meaningless May game against Texas but in a 1-run game in August against the Yankees or Red Sox, Julio set more fires than a 90s Norwegian black metal band.

My ultimate memory of Julio was duing an interleague game against San Francisco. Me and my buddies were in attendance and Julio came into a close game to try to get the O's out of a jam. Not a chance. Julio got shelled and I got drunk as hell. I let Julio have it with a stream of obscenities and had the urge to see how many beers I could drink before alcohol poisoning set in. When he was dealt to the New York Mets in the trade that brought Kris Benson to Baltimore, I didn't care whether Benson was a bust or not (he was), I was just glad to be rid of Julio. He was the sort of pitcher that cost fantasy GMs championships and real life GMs their jobs.

I had purged Julio from my brain for a number of years. The last I saw him, he was pitching for Colorado and nearly cost the Rockies a playoff berth by imploding (as always) in a tight spot. I thought the league had run out of teams for him to play the role of bullpen arsonist. So imagine my surprise when I turned on Sunday night baseball yesterday and saw Julio pitching for Milwaukee. I watched him briefly. He started the first hitter off with ball one high and inside and I quickly switched the channel. I knew how this one was going to end.

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