Archive for Hopeless Joe

Hopeless Joe Predicts the Pennant Races (National League)

I was basking in the glory of my almost fully-funded campaign to keep on writing after NotGraphs is gone when I was reminded that I never wrote the second part of my Pennant Race preview. It’s so easy to forget about the National League. They’re like the Hopeless Joe of leagues. Really, any league without Mike Trout is pretty hopeless these days. I mean, sure, there’s Kershaw, and there’s, um, Jonathan Lucroy, and Jacob DeGrom, but everyone else? Meh, they couldn’t even crack the Royals’ starting lineup.

Quite a race going on! Oh, wait, I was reading the standings backwards, kind of like my doctor when he was reading my x-rays (oops– who needs their good kidney anyway??). Quite a race for last place, with the Mets, Marlins, and the truly wretched Philadelphia Phillies all battling it out. Meanwhile, the Nationals seem well in control, with the best record in the league. Of course, you never know what can happen even when you think you’re in control of something. Like your bowels, for instance. One minute, you’re totally in control, and the next… well, I’d rather not talk about my brother’s wedding, if that’s okay. I’ll just say that if you invite me to your wedding, you shouldn’t surprised if you end up having to throw away the cake. That’s all I’m going to say about that. And probably all I need to say about the NL East.

The race everyone thought it would be. Pirates. Brewers. Cardinals. One of these things is not like the other. And, indeed, with an 8-game losing streak (or “a typical eight day stretch for me”) by the Brewers, the Cardinals are now back on top, with deadline acquisition Justin Masterson leading the charge. Oh, no, that’s his ERA, not his K/9? Ooh, pulling a Joe there, aren’t you? Justin, Justin, Justin, that’s the worst start in a new organization since I joined the Peace Corps in February and was sent to Ukraine. I’m not saying the entire conflict over there is my fault… but I’m also not saying it isn’t. Luckily, I’ve been transferred to Iran. Also, the Reds, wow. Positive run differential, terrible record, don’t you think it’s about time to fire Dusty Baker?

The Dodgers and Giants look to have playoff spots pretty much wrapped up, while my preseason pick, the Rockies, languish with the worst record in the league. Has anyone else ever asked themselves why the Rockies seemed like a smart name for a team when a mountain doesn’t even have a face? I wrote an essay about it, but my dog ate it. I probably shouldn’t write essays on raw meat anymore. I would use paper but I hate getting paper cuts. Much better to get salmonella. Good weight loss plan, that salmonella. A few days of diarrhea and I’m back to my fighting weight. Too bad it always coincides with another one of my brother’s weddings. Hey, my internal editor is telling me I’m writing too much about poop this week. Sorry about that. Next week, my column will be completely poop-free — and, by then, my computer should be too.

The National League — it’s one of the leagues! And I’m almost a person! Until next time…

Hopeless Joe Predicts The Pennant Races (American League)

It’s just about that time of year, when teams start calling it quits, Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder starts to rear its droopy head, and glum Internet baseball columnists are forced to turn to Kickstarter in a Hail Mary effort to keep on going, because the section of website they write for is soon to disappear.

In the meantime, I thought I’d predict this year’s pennant races, not that anyone really wins anything as long as 9-year-olds are still shooting people to death while their parents film it on their cell phones.


Well, the Orioles can’t actually still be in first place, so something has clearly gone wrong. Which it has, for every other team in the division. If someone had told me before the season that Chris Davis would be hitting .190 on August 27th and the Orioles would still be in first place, I would have wondered who’s talking to me, and did it mean I have a friend, a real, honest-to-goodness friend? I would have listened to all of his predictions about the Orioles– and wouldn’t have even interrupted him to tell him that Mike Boddicker is not in fact still on the team, and definitely isn’t the ace of the pitching staff. Oh, the Yankees are still clinging to hope too, despite the team’s average age of 62 and Martin Prado leading the team in OPS, despite a .308 on base percentage (not a misprint). I think I could probably play for the Yankees, and I’m blind in one leg.


Another topsy-turvy division, where the Kansas City Devil-Dealers are trying to hold off the Detroit Oopsie-Daisies. Would anyone on the Royals even crack the Tigers’ starting lineup? You’d think Alex Gordon might, but Victor Martinez’s son J.D. is having an incredible season at the plate, so do you really take him out of left field? I remember when I was removed from left field during a Little League game, when I was 14 years old playing on the 9-11 team (I was small as a child — even smaller than I am now, as an adult). I had gotten confused when a ball was hit my way. I thought I was supposed to cover my face and run away from it, screaming. That’s how I learned to play baseball. Be afraid of the ball. Keep your eyes on your feet. Swing like you’re hitting a pinata. And never let the other players urinate in your pants– do it yourself, like a big boy. The Indians are still hanging in there too, kind of like the Native Americans. Sure, they can have a few wins. Not too many though.


A classic pennant race, between the Angels and A’s. As first place swings back and forth, the teams battling it out, who will get that playoff spot and who will go home to their million-dollar mansions where all the toilets probably flush and you almost certainly can’t hear the neighbors practicing the bassoon in the middle of the night (oh, but they’re lovely people aside from the bassoons — they only steal some of my mail, not all of it!). Oh, wait, they’re both going to make the playoffs. Because that’s how it works in the socialist world of Major League Baseball in 2014. In the real world, it’s winner-takes-all, fight-to-the-death, we-only-need-one-person-to-clean-the-toilets-so-you’re-fired-Joe. But in baseball, pretty much everyone makes the playoffs, and pretty much everyone is rich beyond their wildest dreams. So who the heck cares whether the A’s win more games than the Angels or the Angels win more games than the A’s? It doesn’t matter, any more than it matters what the gunk coming out of my ears actually is. It’s gunk. As long as I don’t touch it, or eat it, or show it to a doctor I’ll be fine. And that’s the American League and where it stands.

Hopeless Joe’s 2014 Trade Deadline Reaction Roundup

The Jon Lester Trade: “First Yoenis Cespedes gets to leave Cuba, then he gets to leave Oakland. At this rate of quality-of-living advancement, he’ll be in Denmark by the end of the month, or at least Sweden. Some guys have all the luck. Although I mistyped his name as Ypenis before noticing and fixing it, so I guess he doesn’t have all the luck. But he has a lot of it.”

The Sam Fuld Trade: “Sam Fuld is awesome because he makes people like me think that if only we had a thousand times more talent than we do, we could be baseball players. I mean, most players seem like they’re a different species, but Sam Fuld just seems like an extra-awesome member of the same species. Though probably with fewer defects in his DNA.”

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Hopeless Joe Reacts to the End of NotGraphs

Well, everything ends, eventually. Especially when I’m involved.

Remember Friendster? Yep, I killed it. That was me. Tried to make a few friends, people complained to the site — who would want to be friends with a guy like me? — and all the users left and there goes that.

The end of a short period of stability in the Middle East? My fault. Can’t remember what I did, but I’m sure it was terrible.

I read a book not that long ago called The End of Men. My fault too. Weak sperm. Low testosterone. Too many soy products, maybe. What can I say, I love tempeh.

Anyway, NotGraphs. Been a good run. As soon as Carson told me the news, I offered to take the reins– HopelessGraphs, anyone?– but a site focused primarily on Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton, and former Yankees prospect Brien Taylor probably wouldn’t be much of a hit with readers.

Okay, okay, there was a half-truth in that last paragraph. Offering to take over wasn’t the FIRST thing I did when I heard the news. First I tried to find whatever pills I had in my medicine cabinet to see if any of them could help dull the pain. Fourteen TUMS and a couple of Imodium later and, I tell you, my stomach felt a little funny but I was still pretty disappointed. A Sudafed helped get rid of my stuffy nose. But still sad.

Then I watched a couple of innings of the Mets game and realized this whole sport is kind of silly anyway.


Hopeless Joe’s All-Star Ballot (NL)

FIRST BASE: Joey Votto
Also Considered: Yonder Alonso, Ryan Howard

First base on the NL All-Star Ballot is weird this year, almost as weird as the growth on my foot. No one on the ballot has been as awful as many of the American Leaguers, with .095 averages or the entire year spent in the minors so far. No one’s even had fewer than Brandon Belt’s 129 at bats. (129 is also my income for June. In pennies.) So I could give this one to Ryan Howard for hitting .234 (but didn’t most people see this coming?) or Yonder Alonso for underperforming dreams and hopes, or Joey Votto for looking about as much like Joey Votto as I look like Grady Sizemore. We’ll go with Votto.

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Hopeless Joe’s All-Star Ballot (AL)

FIRST BASE: Nick Swisher
Also Considered: Daric Barton, Prince Fielder

Tough battle here between the injured and the remarkably ineffective, but the All-Star slot should go to the player who has been the most bafflingly terrible for the most at-bats, just like when I won the Employee of the Month award at my office after everyone else was indicted due to some papers I accidentally spilled coffee on and had to retype from memory. Who knew that the SEC was so particular about corporate filings? Good grief. That job was great until the checks started bouncing and my boss sent me a dead fish wrapped in newspaper. I didn’t even realize they had fish in prison — our tax money, and they get fish? He was super-tasty after I grilled him, too. Was a good thing he arrived because otherwise it would have been another night of dry ramen for dinner (the water’s no good here, and I don’t know how to boil it).

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Hopeless Joe Apologizes for Picking the Padres to Win the Wild Card

You may recall FanGraphs’s pre-season staff predictions. Though I, Hopeless Joe, am not officially a member of the staff, Mr. Blachman only follows what players do on Twitter and on his fantasy roster, not the win-loss records of the actual teams, so he allowed me to make his picks for him.

I, of course, chose the Padres as one of my two NL wild cards.

I did this because of players like Andrew Cashner, and his mullet, and Chase Headley, who once had a really awesome season, and whose name is pretty similar to Chase Utley’s, if you cover up a few letters.

Also, pitching excites me more than hitting, pitcher’s parks excite me more than hitter’s parks, and it just seemed to make sense that a team with seemingly smart folks at the helm would eventually figure it out.

It appears that my pick is likely to prove incorrect, just like most of the things I pick, including the entree at every buffet I’ve ever eaten at, oh why must food-borne pathogens enjoy replicating inside my insides so very, very much?

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Hopeless Joe Discusses the Jon Singleton Deal

So, Jon Singleton just guaranteed himself $10 million over the next five seasons— and a call-up to the majors– in exchange for giving the Astros an extra year before he hits free agency, and locking him into a team-friendly contract in the event he becomes a decent major league player.

And there are people trying to make the case he shouldn’t have taken the deal?

At the Hopeless Joe quality-of-life level, $10 million buys you 400 years of rent and expenses. Okay, maybe 200 years after taxes. Maybe 100 years after inflation is taken into account (although if you buy bulk at Costco to the extent I do, inflation really isn’t an issue… I have enough mayonnaise for the rest of my life… and don’t tell me you buy into the whole expiration date scam, because you know they’re only there to make you buy more mayonnaise every four years when there’s really nothing wrong with mayonnaise until it turns green… and even then, if you just scrape that top layer off… or just mix that top layer into onion dip at your next party and no one will notice… it’s not like I even like the people who come to my parties… anyone who comes to a party I invite them to clearly has no friends and something wrong with them… so they deserve whatever mayonnaise they get).

So assuming you’re not going to live well into the triple-digits — and who would even want to, given global warming and what’s happening in Syria and the impending final season of Parks & Recreation — it seems like the risk of injury, accident, loss of talent, bird flu, or career-ending mayonnaise poisoning would make this kind of deal a no-brainer for any player with enough sense to evaluate the probabilities.

And if baseball players are known for anything, it’s their ability to evaluate probabilities. That’s why no one ever dives into first base, only the fastest players in the league bother trying to steal bases, and if a manager ever even thinks to suggest that someone sacrifice bunt in the vast majority of circumstances, the entire team bashes his head in with a baseball bat. Of which there are many in the dugout, because they are playing a game of baseball.

How often do we see reasonably-touted prospects never earn anywhere close to $10 million? I’m looking at you, Nick Franklin. But you are not looking back at me, because apparently your eyes don’t work anymore and that’s why you can’t hit the ball. Well, at least not in Seattle. Because your eyes seemed to work great in Tacoma. What is wrong with you, Nick Franklin? I traded for you. The day before you got called back up! I was a genius. No, no, Hopeless Joe can never be a genius. Anyone Hopeless Joe trades for becomes hopeless too. It’s a curse.

Okay, so back to Mr. Singleton and his $10 million. It’s not even like he won’t get a chance at free agency soon enough, if he’s a major league-quality player. He will. And he’ll rake in the big bucks so instead of living in the living room of a one-bedroom apartment owned by an elderly married couple who makes him clean their dentures every night (this is how I save on rent!), he can buy an actual house — with granite counter tops and crown molding and central air and double sinks and all of the things that everyone on House Hunters loves and wants and needs and has to have — and even upgrade his cable subscription to include some of the premium channels, like C-SPAN and QVC.

If this is the kind of contract admitted drug addicts can get, why isn’t anyone lining up to give me the same deal? I can’t go a day without Klonopin. I have three Ativan tablets in the pocket of every pair of pants I own. (Which is one. I own one pair of pants. But it’s a nice pair of pants! And since I never spend time with other people, no one even knows it’s my only pair of pants! That’s the secret, folks– you don’t need a lot of clothing if you never leave your apartment! That and so much more advice in my upcoming e-book, Hopeless Joe’s Guide To Living Hopelessly. Free Xanax with every purchase. I don’t take the Xanax anymore — side effects! — so I figure I’ll just give it away.)

Drug addicts getting $10 million makes me so… emotionally neutral, but I think that may be the Klonopin. I played first base once. And then I balked and so my little league coach sent me back to left field. I didn’t even know a first baseman could balk, but somehow I figured out a way. That was me as a kid, always finding new ways to fail. So, clearly, I should be on the Astros too. And I would sign a contract for a lot less than $10 million. Jeff Luhnow, you know where to find me. (In the living room of that one-bedroom apartment with the elderly couple — but you’ll have to knock loudly because it’s hard to hear over their television set.)

Jon Singleton, if you need Prozac– $1 million a pill, and it’s yours.

Hopeless Joe Eats at Shake Shack

…so I was hungry, you know. It’s hard to maintain this calorie-restricted diet my doctor has me on, telling me it’ll help me live forever, as if however long my life would otherwise be isn’t long enough. And it’s hard enough to avoid temptation when you aren’t starving yourself on three hundred calories a day, let alone when you are.

I was at the Mets game, so of course I was looking for a distraction, and I remembered reading something about Ryne Sandberg and Shake Shack, but I couldn’t quite remember what it was, since my short-term memory is shot from, uh, something that happened to me, I think, that I’m having a bit of trouble recalling….

Anyway, Shake Shack sounded good, since I am known to enjoy the occasional fast food indulgence. Well, I wouldn’t say “enjoy,” since what can any of us really enjoy given what’s been going on in the Ukraine, but I can at least usually tolerate and effectively digest a hamburger. And anything that brings me closer in spirit to a Hall of Famer like Ryne Sandberg can’t be a bad thing, so after waiting six and a half innings on line, I ordered a Shack Stack — that’s a cheeseburger and a mushroom burger, on top of each other, just like my brother and sister used to sleep right on top of me when we were kids and our parents could only afford half a bunk bed.

The burger comes, and it looked a little funky — I mean, there were mouse footprints inside, and it was kind of a greenish-purple, if that makes any sense on the color spectrum, and I took a few bites and




(Fortunately I keep a mop in the bathroom.)


I don’t know what was pouring out, I really don’t.


I was about -300 Wipes Above Replacement before everything finally started to subside and I could get on with my depressing life of data entry and cat wrangling. Of course, I had to sneak out a locked Citi Field by climbing the outfield wall since no one had bothered to check the family restroom before locking everything up. And so at four in the morning, there I was, dangling over by the big Home Run Apple, trying to hail a taxi cab in the middle of Flushing (and having killed my eardrums with the sound of Flushing for hours and hours in a row), underwear balled up in my pocket, and the second half of my burger in a to-go bag.

And I was hungry.

So I figured I’d chance it and eat the rest.

Hopeless Joe’s Spring Training Adventure

Hey, Hopeless Joe here. I am writing this from sunny Orlando, Florida, where I have come for a little spring training getaway. It’s spring, it’s warm, everything’s going great (except for my pesky ragweed allergy)… except there doesn’t seem to be any baseball here right now, so I’m not really sure what I’ve done wrong.

I mean, I intended to check the schedule, but my Internet’s been down ever since 9/11, so I don’t really have any access to information. I just figured I was pretty safely in that “spring” window, and since I hadn’t heard anything about the regular season starting (I haven’t gotten a newspaper since the New York Sun folded its print edition, and my cable package only gives me access to Spanish-language children’s cartoons and Dog TV — which I love, by the way), I figured I’d be fine.

And then some kid on line for Space Mountain (too scary for me, I tell ya — I don’t do anything that involves space OR mountains) tells me that the season’s been going on for six weeks, and the BREWERS are in first place. Clearly he was kidding about the Brewers, so I didn’t know whether to believe him about the season… but why would they call it spring training if pretty much all the games happen in winter? That’s like when I thought I was invited to a “winter holiday party” but no one ever told me where or when it was, and so every day from December until March I waited for a call from my “friend” who was hosting the party, and he never called, and then he said we were never really friends, and my therapist says I should get over it, and– you see how it’s sort of the same thing, right?

So I don’t know what to do in Orlando without spring training games. I just wanted to do the tomahawk chop with Mickey Mouse, but I guess that isn’t going to happen. I tried to find something to eat but all they sell here are mouse droppings, and that same kid on line for Space Mountain just finished the ride and came back over here and vomited on my shoes.

This isn’t even the first time someone has vomited on these shoes.