Matthew Berry is currently running neck and neck with Rick Reilly for the coveted “Worst Person Employed by ESPN” award. (Chris Berman, in all his generosity, removed himself from contention a few years ago to give other people a chance at the honor.)
The case for Berry to pull off the upset is after the jump.
“Matthew Berry — The Talented Mr. Roto — is a five-time award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award.”
Berry is a vile, cynical self-promoter. He brings a revolting Hollywood smarm to the world of fantasy sports. He appeals to the lowest common denominator among fantasy players — backwards-hat wearing douches three years out of their frats, who enjoy reading Berry because he makes fantasy sports seem cool and socially acceptable, as opposed to an activity for nerds and shut-ins.
As a writer, he’s hackneyed and cringe-inducing:
As we start the 2010 edition of the Draft Day Manifesto, I will quote Stan and Kyle from “South Park,” to opine, quite assuredly.
“Oh my God, you killed Kenny!
And by “Kenny,” of course, I mean the stud fantasy running back.
And by “You,” I mean the 2009 NFL season.
He loads his fantasy columns with sexist diatribes about the crazy, hot women he dates. In fact, his “crazy chick” stories are a point of pride (see here for a fairly standard example), despite the fact that he consistently portrays himself in the worst light imaginable.
He’s the Morton Downey Jr. of fantasy personalities, covering up his lack of knowledge and originality with overconfidence. In fact, this quote from Berry probably tells you most of what you need to know about him:
I respond to strong personalities. It’s why I’m a huge Howard Stern fan. Love the music of Eminem. Think Tucker Max’s writing is hilarious. The only thing I watch religiously besides sports is “The Daily Show.” And over the course of my career, I have tried to emulate those I admire in my own way.
Reading Berry’s writing feels like getting raped. Watching him on TV is like watching enormously fat people have sex under hot, bright lights.
He’s an atrocious guest on Bill Simmons’ podcast, bringing out the arrogant, woman-hating worst in The Sports Guy. He even managed to mar the 90210 podcast with his creepy obsession with Tiffani Amber-Thiessen.
Berry, ever the Renaissance man, wrote the screenplay for “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles,” a film that found a way to further harm Crocodile Dundee’s already-troubled reputation.
He also penned four episodes of late-period “Married, With Children,” including an episode with the following plot summary: “Peggy, jealous that Al is spending all his time at The Giggly Room, decides to try out on amateur night while Al and the No Ma’am boys judge it. She wins the competition dressed as a harem girl named Jasmin, wearing a veil over her face. Al is turned on like never before, and he and Peggy have their best sex ever.” I think that went on Katey Sagal’s Emmy submission reel.
Sadly, that description screams “Matthew Berry.”
He is also a fantasy sports “expert” only in the sense that someone put him on television and allowed him to write on a Web site with a large audience. In sports media, as in news media, the public demands absolutely no qualifications from our experts. Morons like Rob Dibble and John Kruk are allowed to “analyze” sports, while a whole cadre of people like Berry are given a platform to give fantasy advice despite being no more qualified than you or me.
And here’s where we can fight back.
We must demand accountability from the sports media, and that includes fantasy sports experts. If Matthew Berry, or Eric Karabell, or Ron Shandler give advice and make predictions, it’s our duty to hold their feet to the fire and see how well they do. Nobody’s perfect, but someone doling out fantasy advice for ESPN or Yahoo or the like should be able to fare significantly better than the average fantasy player. Just like a writer giving gambling advice should be able to pick horses better than some guy taking his family to the racetrack for the afternoon.
Luckily, most Web sites have archives, and permanent records of their writers’ predictions. So, like the Ralph Nader of fantasy sports, as a service to consumers, I will go back and examine their results. And I’m starting today, with Matthew Berry, the self-proclaimed Talented Mr. Roto.
The 2010 baseball season is just about done, so I can take out my comically large magnifying glass and give Berry’s pre-season predictions a little perusal. Specifically, I’m using Berry’s gimmicky “Guys I love/Guys I hate” column (which also sounds like the title of a Candace Bushnell column). I’ve made partially subjective decisions on whether players on the two lists underperformed or overperformed vs. pre-season expectations.
Guys Berry Loved: Berry “loved” 45 players for mixed leagues. Of those 45, nine more or less met expectations exactly. 14 overperformed, and 22 underperformed. You would have had a better chance picking player’s names out of a hat than listening to Matthew Berry. Mr. Roto was only correct 31% of the time. Even David Simon Cowell could do better, and he doesn’t follow baseball.
Fun examples of players Berry loved: Curtis Granderson, Lance Berkman, Alcides Escobar, Kyle Blanks, Nolan Reimold, Ben Sheets.
Guys Berry Hated: Berry did better in this section, correctly predicting terrible seasons for 64% of the players listed. However, that success rate is tainted by the fact that the players Berry “hated” were also hated by everyone else in the world. Bartolo Colon? Johnny Damon? Gary Matthews Jr.? Exactly who was placing a lot of fantasy stock in these players? Were Colon and Matthews Jr. even drafted? Are they still in baseball?
Fun sidenote: Berry’s official “sleeper” picks for 2010: Kurt Suzuki, Berkman, Scott Sizemore, Reimold, Erik Bedard, Matt Thonton. What a squad! Does “sleeper” mean “likely to spend most of the season in the minor leagues or on the DL”?
A fantasy player could have bought a cheap fantasy magazine at a newsstand, shown up for the draft with no prior knowledge, and done better than a player who relied on Berry’s expertise.
Fun bonus quote about super-stud Buster Posey: “Learn something from Matt Wieters. Buster will be very good one day, but there’s a reason they signed Bengie Molina. Not sure when gets to the majors and don’t think he’ll be that effective at the start when he does. Not worth stashing except in keeper leagues.”
Extra fun fact: Six of Berry’s overall Top 10 players going into the season have been disappointments.
So if we’re searching for results, the answer is clear: Berry doesn’t deliver. Look elsewhere for your fantasy advice. We’ll check in again after football season.