You know the idea. You are throwing a dinner party and can invite six fantasy guests. The only stipulation is that they must still be living and with a connection to baseball. Current players are excluded.
Here goes …
Guest No.1: Aubrey Huff
The two-time World Series winner finished his 13-year career with an impressive 113 OPS+ while accumulating $57 million. He achieved a level of success of which most of us can only dream.Embed from Getty Images
But this is a charity pick. I feel sorry for Aubrey Lewis Huff III. He seems a little too insecure. Grown men, especially successful sportsmen, shouldn’t feel threatened by Greta Thunberg or some random dude who wants to be addressed by a different pronoun or sportswomen or female sportswriters or socialists or the anti-gun lobby (especially if they are women).
Huff’s views of “if London’s knife laws were stricter, they’d use grenades” is an interesting opinion that deserves greater analysis over the dinner table.
But mainly, he is invited because of this tweet:
To me, it sounds like the screams for help from a sad and lonely individual who would very much like to be invited to a dinner party.
Guest No.2: Jerry Dipoto
The Seattle Mariners General Manager has an enviable ability to captivate an audience and entertain with a near-unlimited catalogue of tales. A 6.1 WAR player over his eight-year playing career, the former pitcher has become MLB’s most active trader since moving to the front office.
In August 2019, he made his 100th trade since joining the Mariners in September 2015 – that’s more than two per month. Some were great, others head-scratching, but without doubt, the sport is more interesting with people like Dipoto involved.Embed from Getty Images
Around the dinner table, would he divulge the secrets of the trades that so nearly happened or the superstars he let get away? And also, why won’t he trade with the Cincinnati Reds?
Guest No.3: Ellen Adair
Despite starring in Homeland, The Sinner, Billions, Trick and The Slap (none of which I’ve watched, although I would rectify that before the dinner party), I only know Adair as an awesome baseball pundit.
How many other Shakespeare aficionados do you know with a bit of a crush on Aaron Nola? But then again, how many Hollywood stars would have seen Maikel Franco’s career-high ISO in early 2019 and attribute it to his elevated flyball rate?
Adair’s encyclopedic knowledge of players and her use of analytics make her a joy to listen to. Oh, and she’s a pretty good fantasy baseball player.
Whether regaling us with celebrity anecdotes or explaining about Nick Pivetta’s decline, she would likely be the life and soul of the dinner party.
Guest No.4: Michael Lewis
The world-famous author is not just a natural story-teller, he is a brilliant investigative journalist, who introduced the wider-world to Michael Oher and the Tuohys (The Blind Side), and to Kahneman and Tversky (The Undoing Project), but it is his 2003 book that made him a household name.
Moneyball transformed baseball in such a way that it is hard to imagine life without it. For sure, all 30 teams would have discovered the secrets of sabermetrics, but it’s doubtful analytics would be so mainstream that seven British MLB fans would be in a bar in Digbeth chatting about FIP, WAR and SwStr%.
I’m also a fan of Lewis as he has a writing desk which he can use while on a treadmill. I aspire to time management of this level.
Guest No.5: Meg Rowley
Talking of time management, it appears that FanGraphs’ managing editor has more hours in a day than anyone else in the world. I find it difficult to keep on top of the latest baseball news and results, I often fall behind on listening to the most recent podcasts and I have needed to recruit a co-manager to help with my fantasy baseball team. And that’s without finding the time to actually watch a game. Rowley does it all, plus so much more.
She is one-third of the presenting trio on the brilliant Effectively Wild podcast, she hosts the FanGraphs Audio podcast, edits Fangraphs and is a brilliant writer. If no-one has coined her the Godmother of analytical evaluation, I will do it right here.
Oh, and Meg truly seems like the nicest person you could possibly meet.
Guest No.6: Claire Smith
Just as Jackie Robinson was a trail-blazer for non-white players in the game, Claire Smith is his writing equivalent, although Smith had to fight both racial and gender bias.Embed from Getty Images
The daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Smith became the first full-time female MLB beat writer when she started covering the New York Yankees in the early 80s. Denied access to the players and press box during the early years of her employment, Smith was tenacious and resilient, and on one occasion had to endure the humiliation of being physically removed from the clubhouse by San Diego Padres players in 1984.
Smith, now in her 60s, was inducted into the Writer’s Wing of the Hall of Fame in 2017 for “meritorious contributions to baseball writing”, unsurprisingly becoming the first woman and just the fourth African-American writer in Cooperstown.
I think she will position herself at the dinner table next to Aubrey.
Who are you inviting to your baseball-themed fantasy dinner party? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
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