Given that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann (left, during the 1997 World Series) is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), we like his chances of holding off David Cross and Jason Bateman in his fantasy baseball league. SI.com asked the Countdown broadcaster to forward the roster of his (first-place) team. Below, he breaks down how he constructed the Deuxs:
Team Name: Montreal Deux Deux Deux
STARTING PITCHERS: Jake Peavy, C.C. Sabathia, Dan Haren, Jair Jurrjens, Tim Hudson, Ricky Nolasco
SET-UP: Zach McClellan, Manny Corpas, J.C. Romero, Tyler Yates
CLOSERS: Brad Lidge, Brian Wilson
CATCHER: Chris Iannetta
INFIELD: Prince Fielder, Yunel Escobar, Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker, Mark Reynolds
OUTFIELD: Rick Ankiel, Ryan Braun, John Bowker, Jeremy Hermida, Justin Upton, Shane Victorino
DISABLED LIST: Jerry Hairston Jr.
Current Status: First place at the All-Star break by four points over [comic and writer] Cross, 6.5 over Brian Baumgartner (The Office), 13 over Jeff Garlin, 15.5 over Tim Goodman of the San Franscisco Chronicle. Commissioner Jason Bateman is too good a friend for me to mention his status.
The Roster: NL only, 5x5 plus holds and total bases, 21 active, 3 reserve, 1 DL spot, daily changes, no freezes, draft not auction.
On talking smack: I never talk smack. It's bad karma. I am in first place at the break, and I am convinced it won't hold. I do not talk smack.
Last deal: I drafted last, so I got the first waiver pick and held it all season. Spent it on C.C. Sabathia and since we have a start limit (180), I traded Edinson Volquez, Ollie Perez and Chris Perez for Brad Lidge. Basically, I got Lidge for free.
What's the name of the league?
Jason changes it every year. Last year it was The Justice League -- Jason's a very creative guy, but not with this -- and this year, I don't know where he came up with this, but we are the Fake Fregosis. I don't know what that means. Jason's team is Rollie's Smelly Fingernails.
So Bateman is a commissioner and an owner as well?
Of course. He's run this league three years and invited me last year. This is Year Two for me in this league.
How did you finish last year?
Having been way out of practice -- I last played in 1994 -- I was very rusty and only finished third. I really didn't get what he was doing with holds until May or June. But I finished in front of him, which is what counted.
What do you play for?
I think there's money. I remember getting a check back of some sort -- I think its $100 a guy. This is so when I see Jeff Garlin at the 92nd Street Y for Richard Lewis Night, we can sit there for five minutes and yell at each other.
What is your fantasy baseball history?
When I was a kid I used to re-draft leagues. I'd take the Sporting News rosters from 1969 and make whole new teams. I'd make a team in Buffalo or re-arrange the entire National League just for fun. That inclination was in me as a kid. I got to KTLA-TV in 1985 and within a week or two I bought one of the teams in the league. In two years I was in the commissioner and I won four years in a row -- it was National League only. And the reason that stopped -- there was this long interval where I didn't do anything -- was the strike year. Looking back to 1995, we were faced with having to draft UPS drivers. Mike Tirico was in that league briefly. The guy who produced the NBC Evening News was in that league, and it was a pretty good league. We had gotten to the stage where there were 40-man rosters and in '94 we introduced an amateur draft before the actual one. We'd take two weeks beforehand and take two high school or college players and get to keep one, assuming you had very bad luck you'd get a guy who got drafted by an NL team. The last guy I drafted in that league was Paul Konerko when he was a catcher at Las Vegas in a high school there. That's how into it we were. But with replacement players, we went out of business and I never touched it again until last year.
Do you like the guys in your league?
Jason invited me. I had been a fan of his work and he'd been a fan of my work and we really didn't know that. He made an overture through Tim Goodman, from the San Francisco Chronicle. Tim's in the league too, and that always mean you have to be very careful with trading with him, because if he doesn't like something you've done he could write a nasty article about you. There are 10 and it's a good group. They are actors and creative guys who are always trying to get around the rules. It's what you want in a league.
Why do you play NL only?
When you have actors in your league, they'll spend more time on this than Brian Cashman spends on the keeping the Yankees afloat. Or you won't hear from them for three months because they are shooting a movie in Dubai. Last year I think the reason this is NL-only is because in '05 and '06, Jason didn't get a lot of long-term work and just had day shoots and things. Or maybe in 2006 he wanted to be in three kinds of leagues, a National League and an American League and a mixed. He invited me to both, and I never enjoyed American League fantasy ball. I was in one of those for a long time too and never did well or enjoyed it. I'm not exactly sure why. In the National League there is something more challenging, since automatically there is a smaller pool of great hitters. You really do have to know when to get rid of Chris Iannetta and sign Jesus Flores, and when to get rid of Jesus Flores and re-sign Chris Iannetta to succeed in a league like this.
Would you be in a charity baseball fantasy league with Bill O'Reilly?
A league in O'Reilly for charity? Umm. Well, he has enough fantasy in his life that I really would want to stay away, having heard what some of his fantasies are in that testimony with the loofah. You figure out what the charity is and I'll give you the money so I don't have to be in his fantasy. We'll do it now! We'll do the draft live!
Your team name is Montreal Deux Deux Deux. Does Chris Berman know about this?
My old high school classmate probably does not know. Last year in a very clever tribute to Mr. Bateman, we were the New York Annyongkees. There was a bit in Arrested Development, where the mother, the Jessica Walter character, adopted a Korean boy out of spite and he would say hello all the time, which is annyong in Korean. So he would say annyong and they thought his name was Annyong, so everybody just said annyong all the time. This year, obviously, it's a salute to that memorable piece of tape.
Where did you pick in your draft this year?
I picked 10 and 11. I did know about Ryan Braun before anyone knew about Ryan Braun. I was waiting for him to come up last spring. I talked to Ned Yost, who's a friend of mine, and the owner of the Brewers, and Doug Melvin very briefly. We were all on the field one day at Shea Stadium and we were chatting and they said 'Nah, we're going to leave him down there as long as we possibly can.' Then there was an article and it said he was tearing up the league and Melvin was following him around in the minors, and Melvin insists he's not coming up. So I thought that means he's not coming up. The day after that article, he came up. In the interim, having read that article, Bateman had picked him up. For the rest of the year, I said that was the pennant right there. So I watched with delight as the first nine picks went by and nobody took Braun, so I took him with the 10th pick and I figured at 11, the most underrated starting pitcher was Peavy. The big name sluggers were pretty much all gone at that point.
Out of all the owners, who do you worry about the most?
Baumgartner won last year. He has a few injuries, I don't know if that will continue. Cross is a really good baseball fan. And he had the best draft. So Cross worries me. They both worry me. Second and third place as they are. Cross took Chase Utley in the first round he took Brandon Webb in the second round, Garrett Atkins in the third. I drafted Atkins last year and he was dead wood for half the season. In the fourth round Cross got Adrian Gonzalez, so four winners so far. In the fifth round he drafted Miguel Tejada. We all thought he was finished. He then took Francisco Cordero and Pat Burrell in the seventh. He knows his stuff. But if Hermida has a great second half, I win.