24 April 2008

Fantasy Baseball/Garth Brooks Charity

My wife was recruited into a fantasy baseball league run by some of her coworkers, and I have participated as an advisor to her.  I used to have my own team in a friendly league, but the truth is that I am terrible about keeping up with a fantasy baseball team over the course of a season.  Not that my thought process is entirely relevant here, but I have often wondered about Garth Brooks's foundation, in which professional athletes pledge $X for X statistic throughout a season.  Well, it turns out that the base pledge forms are posted online, giving the following base value per baseball stat (I didn't look at other sports):
$1000 Home Run
$100 Base Hit
$200 Stolen Base
$250 Double
$200 RBI
$500 Pinch Hit
$250 Run Scored
$1000 Pitcher Win
$300 Pitcher Save
$100 Pitcher Strikeout
$200 Pitcher Appearance
Now, of course, it should be noted that this is just a base value; players are permitted to substitute any value of their choice.  Still, since those finalized forms are likely to never be made public (and they certainly have no need to be), our assumption must be that each player elects to pay the default value of his stats.  Next up is a comparison of my wife's fantasy roster with the foundation's all-time roster.  Since the foundation site does not delineate past from current participants, again we must make an assumption that any players currently active are currently participating in the foundation.
FANTASY ROSTER PLAYERS WHO PARTICIPATE(D)
BATTERS                                    PITCHERS
A.J. Pierzynski                              Matt Capps
Mark Teixeira                               Cliff Lee

Ian Kinsler                                    John Lackey Ryan Braun                                   Scott Kazmir Adam Dunn                         
Ken Griffey, Jr.                           
   Alex Rodriguez
Note that the two italicized players are on the real-life DL, and have not played this year as of today.  For a complete list of all-time baseball participants, click here.

Now then, eleven of our 26 players opt not to participate with the Garth foundation.  I won't criticize those players because of several reasons: first, there is absolutely no obligation for ridiculously overpaid athletes to participate in any charity.  Secondly, many likely run their own foundations and support other programs; several players on the Garth foundation list are known to be involved with other charities, as well.

So, armed with a list of who is participating, and the default value assigned to each man's stats, we can tell that our category leaders would be:
Home Runs: Lance Berkman (5 x $1000 = $5000)
Base Hits: Ian Kinsler (25 x $100 = $2500)
Stolen Bases: Ian Kinsler (6 x $200 = $1200)
Doubles: Lance Berkman (8 x $250 = $2000)
RBI: Lance Berkman (17 x $200 = $3400)
Pinch Hit: ? (x $500)
Run Scored: Lance Berkman (19 x $250 = $4750)
Pitcher Win: Micah Owings (4 x $1000 = $4000)
Pitcher Save: Matt Capps (6 x $300 = $1800)
Pitcher Strikeout: Micah Owings (23 x $100 = $2300)
Pitcher Appearance: ? (x $200)
Of course, these are just the leaders in those categories, and it assumes that each player signed up for all eligible stats.  Through today, then, our biggest contributor, based only on team-leading statistics, would be Lance Berkman at $15,150.  Now, since he's the team-leader, let's consider the rest of his stats and see what Berkman could theoretically be on the hook to donate:

LANCE BERKMAN
HR: 5 x $1000 = $5000
Hits: 23 x $100 = $2300
SB: 3 x $200 = $600
Doubles: 8 x $250 = $2000
RBI: 17 x $200 = $3400
Pinch Hits: ?
Runs: 19 x $250 = $4750

Yahoo! fantasy baseball stats don't track pinch hits, but I have a hard time picturing Lance Berkman pinch-hitting; we'll assume that value is zero.  The grand total, then, of Lance Berkman's possible donation to the Garth Brooks Foundation for the 2008 season (through April 24) is $18,050.
In all likelihood, Berkman only signed up for one or two categories, and we'll never know how much he pledged per stat, so nobody needs to go knocking on his door expecting him to fork over thousands of dollars for (insert your cause here).  Besides being partly bored and partly curious, the only real value to come out of this little exercise has been to get a more informed idea of the charitable aspects of our athletic heroes.  Sure, they're too important to some fans, and they're overpaid for no more than they really contribute to our society.  Still, it should be remembered that at least some of them do take into consideration the fact that they are in a position to help others, and they do that.  That's a fine objective for any of us, whether we're multi-millionaire ballplayers or just people who think to save and donate labels from whatever product will donate money to a school.

16 April 2008

Released from the Hospital

You know how it goes. Two weeks or so ago, I get hit with strep. As I recover from that, I develop a bowel obstruction. Grand prize for my troubles? Over 48 hours in a hospital. Here are my abbreviated thoughts on my recent stay at Norton Suburban Hospital in Louisville, KY:

The Emergency Room

Pros: Dr. Pringle was efficient and pleasant.

Cons: Spending an hour (literally) in an exam room before anyone ever even checked on me to see that I was in the room, much less why I was there. It wasn't until after I was admitted to the hospital that anyone even got around to measuring my height and weight, to give you an idea how little attention the E.R. staff paid me. Also, they left the previous occupant's chart in the room after she left, a major medical no-no. Fortunately, I'm not the snooping type and didn't violate another patient's confidentiality.

The Hospital

Pros: Most of the nursing staff that attended to me was friendly, and that first day when I had to request pain meds to receive them, they responded quickly.

Cons: Having blood drawn from the wrists (yes, plural) instead of my ACL (that's the elbow area for those of you who don't speak anatomy or medical) for no apparent reason. Sharing a room with one old guy after another who could not make it through the day without the TV going. I swear the next person who wakes me up with a small claims court show should have already made his or her peace with the Lord. It didn't help that, even after being told the nurse(s) would try to get the TV turned off at four in the morning, that no one ever even asked either guy to do so.

The Surgeon

Pros: For a guy who pays his summer home mortgage slicing and dicing people, Dr. Pokorney was actually very reasonable about trying to keep from having to operate on me. It was his determination--not the G.I. doctor, mind you--that I should be given time for the antibiotics and steroids to work. He is to the point without being rude, and was quick to respond yesterday to my insistance that I was well enough to leave.

Cons: My only real nitpick is that I felt as well Tuesday as I did yesterday and if he--or anyone else with the authority to do so had listened to me--I might have been spared an unnecessary 24 hours in the hospital. Also, being restricted from any food or drink from Sunday night through Tuesday afternoon was frustrating. It was understandable when surgery was still being considered, but after that was ruled out as a treatment option, my restrictions should have been revised.

The Gastroenterologist

Pros: I only had to see him twice.

Cons: Dr. Martin D. Mark is surely the world's foremost Remicade salesman. He insisted that I should have been on the drug all along, and that had I been on it, I would not have been in my present condition. That may or may not be (despite its high success rate, Remicade is no more an absolute guarantee than any other drug), but that's also not the point. Surely, as a gastroenterologist, Dr. Mark realizes that the standard treatment for Crohn's patients is to start with the small stuff (5 ASA drugs, immunomodulators, tapering dosages of steroids) and to give them time to work. There are currently only a handful of treatment options even available, and rushing through them is not practical. Besides which, Remicade is quite expensive (thousands of dollars per dose). It's like taking your Ford Taurus to a mechanic and being told you should have been driving a Bentley instead. Well, yeah, but there's probably a reason I'm driving a Taurus and not a Bentley, so let's live in my world for a minute. Dr. Mark runs a clinic that gives Crohn's patients Remicade treatments, and I found his manner so abrasive and condescending that even if it were the only avenue open to me to receive the drug, I would likely opt instead to suffer.

Final tally

Pros: The nursing staff's overall friendliness and Dr. Pokorney's measured reactions to my condition were the most important things I got from the people at Norton. My wife only left my side for necessary errands, and even then only after I insisted to her it was okay to do so. I could not have made it through this ordeal without her support. And, whether you share my spiritual convictions or not, I know this was a test of me by a greater power and I can only conclude that God found something about my response to this test to His liking, because He spared me the surgical fate medical science had pronounced.

Cons: I don't care if a guy has lost a leg to flesh-eating bacteria or is suffering extraordinary pain from cancer: there should be reasonable hours of the day in which a patient's TV is turned off for the comfort of whomever is in the bed beside him. Rest is one of the most important components to any patient's recovery, and it's hard to do that when your eyes are bombarded by flashing TV lights through the night or, unlike the guy who insists on having the TV turned to Judge Judy, you can't doze off because she's too obnoxious. And, of course, I wish someone had taken me more seriously Tuesday when I tried to tell them that the antibiotics and steroids were working and that I was making tremendous progress.