Matthew Berry, aka the Talented Mr. Roto, is perhaps the best known expert in the fantasy baseball universe. From his humble beginnings as a production assistant on The George Carlin Show, Berry is now the Director of Fantasy Sports for ESPN – which might just be the most amazing job title, ever. In addition to being a major source of inspiration for my own (currently in second place) ESPN fantasy baseball team, he and Nate Ravitz provide an entertaining wealth of information every weekday on their fantasy baseball podcast. From Pod Vader to Anne Hathaway, Matthew Berry inspires a host of gift ideas – and here we give you the best ones.Photo by Pasukaru78
Pod Vader produces Matthew’s fantasy baseball podcast for ESPN, and serves as Berry’s chief tormentor on the show. From playing a mean “comedy goalie” to missing cues for drops and generally giving Matthew a hard time, Pod Vader definitely lives up to his ominous sounding name. With this “pod” Vader plush toy, you can have your very own Pod Vader on your desk to throw around as much as you’d like.
Bill James is widely considered the father of sabermetrics. In fact, he coined the term, defining it as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.” Just in time for this fall’s release of the Moneyball movie, starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s manager (and Bill James disciple) Billy Beane, this book is the perfect gift for any fantasy baseball fan. Especially for a fan languishing in 12th place in their mixed-team league with nothing to do but begin prepping for next season (I know, Berry says to never give up…but the last place team in our league has only 78 HR and 368 RBI – what is he supposed to do?).
Matthew Berry’s willingness to own up to his bad calls is wrong is unique among prognosticators. This year his three biggest flops have probably been Bedard, Encarnacion, and Uggla. Berry predicted Bedard would get 15 wins and 175 strikeouts; at the all-star break, he has 4 wins and 85 K’s. Given that he’s been on the DL since the end of June and won’t be ready to come off until at least one start after the break, he’s not going to come close. Worse is Encarnacion, whom Berry predicted would hit 30 dingers at the start of the season – he has 6 at the break. But even that doesn’t compare to the absolute terror that Dan Uggla has been for fantasy owners – Berry predicted a .300 average with forty home runs, and Uggla has 15 home runs with a .185 average at the break. Show your support for Berry’s picks with some authentic game jerseys!
Berry’s love of the Pirates has stayed consistent from the start of the season – and unlike Bedard, Encarnacion, or Uggla, they’ve actually lived up to his predictions with a 47-43 record at the break (just 1 game out of the first place tie in the NL central). If you or your friend live near an NL-park (or in Pittsburg itself), give the gift of seeing this underdog team in person!This extra-lovely photo by Blair Waldorf
Berry’s infatuation with Anne Hathaway knows no bounds – in his preseason article, he even ranked her ahead of Megan Fox (that would have been like ranking Kemp ahead of Pujols! Oh wait – that would have worked out just fine…). Start your custom boxed set at the beginning, with Princess Diaries. From there, move on to Brokeback Mountain, The Devil Wears Prada, Get Smart, Bride Wars, and finally Alice in Wonderland – quite the spectrum.
6. ESPN insider and rotowire.com subscriptions
If you want to give someone the ability to take their fantasy game to the next level, give them subscriptions to ESPN insider and rotowire.com. Insider will give you full access to Berry, Ravitz, KaraBell (ding!) and the rest of the ESPN team. Rotowire.com will provide you with the fastest and most in-depth player news out there so you can stay one step ahead of the competition (this is why I picked up Bonifacio before Berry talked about him as a replacement for the injured A-Rod on the podcast).