I was inspired to come up with this team by Dave in Brighton, who hasn't checked his fantasy team in so long that he may not remember this, but he built it this year around players he liked. I thought about the players I liked, and if I could make a team out of those players. I can. Some of this is dated, though, because I jotted it down so long ago (for example, before Mike Piazza was officially retired). I figured today was a good day for one last fluff piece before the nitty-gritty of September hit.
Terry Francona, Manager: I've written before about how much I like Terry Francona. I think he's done a great job, facing his fair share of adversity and maintaining a high level of success. He can manage my team any day. I share the concern of many who follow the Red Sox, though, for his overall health. Hopefully he's at least kicked the chewing tobacco.
Mike Piazza, Catcher: I don't know who I'd pick if I had to go for a player who isn't retired - perhaps Matt Wieters, this Orioles prospect who's supposed to be great. But I pick Piazza because he's a class act, and played the game hard. Clean? I'm not sure - I find it suspicious that he couldn't find a place to play this year...but I certainly hope so. I wouldn't pick him if I didn't believe it in my heart.
Sean Casey, 1st Baseman: This team isn't all about talent. Sure, Casey's a good hitter, but by all accounts, he's one of the nicest people in sports. That means he can play for me.
Chase Utley, 2nd Baseman: Yes, he plays for the Phillies, but he's one of the fantasy league all-stars I have on my team. Actually, not all of them are all-stars, as you will see.
Bobby Crosby, Shortstop: I bought into the hype when he first came up and was supposed to be the next Miguel Tejada for the A's. I still check out how he did in the box score.
David Wright, 3rd Baseman: Need I say more?
Ryan Braun, Left Field: A fun young player to watch.
Johnny Damon, Center Field: When countless Red Sox players snubbed me on the field when I was working for a local TV station, he spoke to me. It went like this - he comes out of the dugout, I asked him for a word. "I have to take a couple of swings, then I'll be right back." He walked over to the cage, signed some autographs for fans in the stands, took his cuts, then came straight back to me. "You wanted to talk, right?" I'll never forget how he helped me. I'll also never forget how Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon were among those who wouldn't even look at me.
Vladimir Guerrero, Right Field: I guess time heals all wounds. When he was with the Expos, I despised him. Now, he's one of the players I most enjoy watching.
Roy Halladay, SP: He's awesome now, but I owned him back when he had to be sent back down to Single-A for some seasoning. I feel like a proud papa seeing him have this success.
Erik Bedard, SP: I feel bad for him for the whole Seattle thing. It just never seemed like a good fit to me. I wish he was back in Baltimore.
Mike Maroth, SP: He will always have a special place in my heart - we suffered through his 21-loss season together.
Boof Bonser, SP: Just because.
Troy Percival, CP: I almost didn't go with a closer - there aren't many I like - but I've always liked rooting for the Angels, and Percival reminds me of them. Plus, it's been nice to see his resurgence with Tampa this year.
BENCH - Freddy Sanchez (I was there the night he had an insane game for the Red Sox against Houston, which must have been the reason Pittsburgh traded for him), Grady Sizemore (maybe just because of his birthday - 8/2/82), Jason Bay (so excited to see his Red Sox debut), and Ken Griffey, Jr. (a schoolyard favorite growing up).