Who could be baseball's Lin?
By now everyone's been exposed to Lin-sanity, a condition that overcomes its victims when they witness the mad skills that sports' latest and greatest sensation, Jeremy Lin, put on display last week. Not since FernandoMania swept through baseball in 1981 on the left arm of pudgy young left-hander, Fernando Valenzuela, has someone gone from being so obscure to the center of attention as quickly. (Before you write in, yes, there was Tim Tebow, but he was already a star when he exploded on the NFL scene).
On the floor and especially in the NBA record book, the Harvard product has been keeping some very heady company -- LeBron, Kobe, CP3, Magic, Sir Charles, Bird, and yes, even his royal Airness -- with his (still active) streak of five-straight 20-point, seven assist games.
Lin's underdog story is straight out of a bad Disney script, with myriad underlying arcs, both good and bad, ranging from sleeping on his brother's couch to Taiwanese nationalism and Ivy League pride to possible racism and anti-elitism, to mismanagement by the Warriors, Rockets and the other 28 teams who left him un-selected in the 2010 NBA draft. And while nobody in their right mind would expect someone who just three weeks ago was a member of the D-League's Erie Bay Hawks, to continue this pace for an entire season (or even another full week for that matter), Lin has shown that he is talented enough to be a much better than average starting NBA point guard, especially while doing his best Steve Nash impersonation while running Mike D'Antoni's penetrate-and-dish offense to five straight Ws. And he did all of that with New York's top two stars, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, missing from a lineup that produced just nine wins in 24 games. It's for that reason that he's become that elusive fantasy needle-in-a-haystack: a waiver-wire addition that comes from nowhere and immediately contributes All-Star-level numbers.
It's hard to say where Lin will fall in the all-time best rags-to-riches fantasy pickup pantheon, yet he joins an impressive recent list. In the NFL, was there a better wire claim this past season than Victor Cruz, who salsa-ed his way to 82 catches, 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns in what amounted to 14 games of real action? Then there was Jose Bautista, who went from being a utility player who never hit more than 16 home runs in his previous six big league seasons playing for five different teams, to someone who led the majors in home runs in each of the last two seasons with 97 since the start of 2010.
Who are your best fantasy waiver wire pickups of the last two years? Send them to me on Twitter (
In the meantime here are my candidates to become baseball's next big thing. While they all have more name recognition than Jeremy Lin did, they also have to ability to become part of the national discussion. While there are some others who will certainly be good, these are the players who could become an instant phenomenon in doing so. Think of someone who transcends the sports world, someone who doesn't only show up on SportsCenter, but also gets a segment on the national nightly news. That's famous.
This Week's Twitter question comes from Steve Marsden, who asks:
Yes, I expect Price to bounce back from a season that saw his ERA rise from 2.72 to 3.49 and record fall from 19-6 to 12-13. However, the young southpaw raised his strikeout rate from 8.1 to 8.7 per nine innings while slashing his walks per nine almost a full free pass from 3.4 to 2.5. That, in turn, helped his WHIP, which dropped a meaningful 0.06 from his breakout 2010 season. My current overall top 10 is NL-heavy (and presented alphabetically for now) -- Zack Greinke Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Dan Haren, Ian Kennedy, Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver -- but Price surely makes my AL-only Top 10.