Friday, April 27, 2012

Food-Issue Friday: 1992 McDonald's Derek Bell

  
  My first year of participating in a fantasy baseball league was 1992-the same year that McDonald's issued this Baseball's Best set. Heck, I don't think I even knew that fantasy baseball existed prior to that year. I had a co-worker who was telling me about the league he had been doing with some buddies of his. His excitement was infectious and he made being a GM/Manager sound so easy that I decided I wanted a piece of the action. We discussed it and got some friends to join us in a league of our own.

   How did I spend my time preparing for my first ever draft? Well, I sure didn't visit any websites to analyze statistics (remember, this was 1992); nor did I purchase any magazines that were dedicated to the science of fantasy geekdom. Nope- I relied upon the wisdom and knowledge imparted to me from Baseball America.

  My third pick of the draft, which consisted of about six teams, was the 1991 International League MVP and Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, Mr. Derek Bell. When my turn to pick rolled around and Bell was still on the draft board, I couldn't believe my luck! I had to contain the joyful laughter that was welling up deep inside, and nearly wet myself from the excitement. My joy soon turned to sorrow, as my team stunk it up so bad that I lost interest by July and basically gave up. I didn't join another league for about thirteen years. Bell played a whopping 61 games, in which he hit.242, 2 homers, and 15 RBI over 161 at bats. That pick was indicative of how the rest of my draft went. 

  Derek Bell's promising career wasn't as bad as that '92 season; he was actually pretty good from about 1994-1998. He will be best remembered, however, for his mouth. For instance, remember the time in 1999 when the Astros honored manager Larry Dierker on the night he returned from brain surgery? Bell could only criticize the skipper because he dropped Bell from third to sixth in the lineup. He was hitting .239 at the time. The moment that really took the cake came during Spring Training, 2002 while he was with the Pirates.  Bell, who hit .173 the previous season, didn't think he needed to compete for a job. "If it is [a competition], then I'm going into 'Operation Shutdown.' Tell them exactly what I said. I haven't competed for a job since 1991." Bell never again played in the majors after being released March 31st. He was paid a cool $4.5 million to stay home, or rather, his yacht Bell 14. That led a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist to call Derek, "The ultimate pirate: lives on a boat and steals money."
  

 

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