Next to kid-friendly holidays and fantasy draft weekends, my favorite time of year has arrived.
Yep, it's "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel.
For my money (of which there is very little, so no loan requests, please), there isn't a more mesmerizing and awe-inspiring creature on the planet (this side of David Lee Roth) than the shark.
Whether my fascination began with seeing a stupefied Roy Scheider caution his mates aboard the ORCA that "We're gonna need a bigger boat" after his first up-close encounter with the menacing Great White in "Jaws" or when I spotted a fin in the distance while a little too far from shore on my boogie board as a 9-year-old visiting my great grandmother in Santa Barbara, sharks have always captured my imagination.
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And now, in a Fantasy Baseball sense, I have become one, lurking below the surface, waiting to make my move and announce my presence in spectacular fashion before anybody realizes I'm there.
And Mark Teixeira will be the one who makes it happen.
While my wife has been soiling hankies since Big Tex, her favorite player, was traded from her beloved Texas Rangers to the Atlanta Braves, I've been downright giddy.
That's because Teixeira's relocating to Atlanta makes an already dangerous bat potentially lethal in the final two months of the season, which is time enough for me to make one final run and remove the "Kick Me" sign that's been on my back since the first week of April.
And I'm going to need my first-round pick to kick things into overdrive after two ho-hum weeks have dropped me from fourth place to eighth, with fourth being the final payout position (not that any real money is changing hands because gambling is wrong).
I remember the impact Fred McGriff had on the Braves, as well as the Giants, when he was acquired from Toronto in a trade that shifted the balance of power in the NL West from San Francisco to Atlanta in the summer of 1993.
The Teixeira deal has the potential to be that and more. A lot more.
Teixeira, who has lost 27 games to a strained quad, was putting up nice numbers with Texas (.297 average, 13 homers and 49 RBIs) but was frequently pitched around with runners in scoring position.
That won't be the case in Atlanta, where talent exists up and down the lineup and pitchers won't have anywhere to put the former Georgia Tech star. The switch-hitting slugger will see better pitches to hit, have runners on when he steps up to the plate and have plenty of protection behind him.
What does that mean?
It means my man could hit 20 to 25 more home runs and drive in another 50 to 60 runs between now and October. And a good thing this would be.
Last year, I watched Teixeira sleep-walk through the first half of the season, during which he went to the All-Star break with a measly nine homers. Luckily, Tex found his stroke in the second half and wound up posting respectable numbers (33 HRs, 110 RBIs, .282 average).
There's no reason it can't happen again, especially now that every time Teixeira sneezes the Braves will score two runs.
So far, so good. Teixeira has homered in each of his first two games with his new club and already has one curtain call to his credit.
If it becomes a regular occurrence, my competition will need a bigger boat, too.
Ron Palillo played Arnold Horshack on "Welcome Back, Kotter"; Ronny Paulino is the Pittsburgh Pirates catcher who has homered twice already this week after a certain smarty-pants columnist first released him, then poked fun at him on the way out the door.
So thank you, Ronny, for going from three starts in two weeks to starting and producing every day and rubbing my nose in the latest in a season's worth of who-are-the-ad-wizards? decisions.
My lineup for Week 19:
C: Russell Martin and Yorvit Torrealba; 1B: Mark Teixeira; 2B: Ray Durham; 3B: Nomar Garciaparra; SS: Felipe Lopez; OF: Carlos Lee, Eric Byrnes, Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford and Josh Willingham; CI: Eric "Just Go On The DL Already" Chavez; MI: Mark DeRosa; U: Dave Roberts; P: Fausto Carmona, Mariano Rivera, Eric Gagne, Takashi Saito, Huston Street, Greg Maddux, Kevin Gregg, Chuck James and Pat Neshek.
Stu Rosenberg's fantasy sports column runs Fridays. He can be reached at 578-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.