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Stock Watch with Hayes: Tough Love

by Chris Hayes

This story is simple, like the sandlot where it’s origins lie. One where I would learn a valuable lesson that we all can carry throughout our daily lives. 

My fifth-grade team, the Fox Chapel Dodgers, was practically unstoppable. On one spring afternoon, after rolling to an 8-0 start to the season, we traveled to nearby Sharpsburg to take on its team, the Reds. It was a doubleheader, which meant we’d play two games, back to back. In the first game of the day, my Dodgers jumped out to a huge lead. By the time the sixth inning rolled around each game was seven innings we were leading, 13-2.

I’m a lefty, so I almost always played first base or right field for my squads. Coaches love having a southpaw to cover those two positions. And I grew to enjoy it, too.

But on this day, after playing outfield for all six innings, my assistant coach pulled me to the side in the clubhouse between innings. 

“Chris, you’re going to pitch next inning. We want you to close this game out for us.”

Uhh, what? I had never pitched a single inning in my young life. Not one. Not even in practice. My heart sank. I could barely breathe.

“Coach, I…I’m not sure I can do that,” I said. “I’ve never pitched.”

“Well, we want to give you a shot. We could use your help since we’ve got another game right after this one. Now go warm up a little.”

Friends, they say there’s no crying in baseball. But 10-year-old me may have shed a tear or two. Or three. Certainly not my best moment.

I walked over to the bullpen and tried to settle down, but I was still upset and nervous. That’s when someone grabbed my shoulder and turned me around. It was my dad, who happened to be sitting in the bleachers.

You have to understand that my dad is the most supportive person I know. He’s always got my back. I know he’d do anything for me and the rest of my family. So when he walked over to me, I assumed he would put his arm around me and encourage me to just try my best.

I was wrong. He was furious.

“Son, you’re embarrassing yourself,” he said. “You need to get it together. Your team is counting on you, and you’re letting them down. Is that what you want?”

I was dumbfounded. My dad never acted like that. What was he doing? Why was he yelling at me? All I could do was shake my head. 

“No, I don’t want that,” I said. 

“I didn’t think so. Now be a man and go out there.”

As he walked away, I was livid. My dad had lit a fire under me. Moments later, I headed out to the mound, and all I wanted to do was shut him up. It wasn’t perfect, but I managed to retire the first two batters. I walked the third batter, and the fourth guy flew out to deep right field. Game over. No runs allowed. Dodgers win, 13-2.

My dad and I didn’t talk much on the ride home. I could think of only one question to ask him.

“Dad,” I said, “why did you yell at me like that? It really caught me off guard.”

He turned and looked at me. “Because I knew it would motivate you. You needed that. Life isn’t always easy, Chris. I knew you could go out there and do it. But you needed to believe that, too.”

I never pitched again after that day. Even now, I still struggle with confidence issues. But when I get really down, I remember that day with my dad on the baseball field. 

Life is hard, and there are times, especially now, when we are tempted to just throw in the towel. But every once in awhile, all we need is a little tough love from someone who knows us almost as well as we know ourselves.

Now, let’s get to this week’s “Buy or Sell.” I’ll be touching on running backs and receivers this week:

BUY: Josh Jacobs (RB, Las Vegas Raiders)

After bursting onto the scene with three touchdowns in Week 1, the second-year back has struggled a bit in the early going, averaging about nine fantasy points in his last two outings. Is it panic time for Josh Jacobs? No, but some of his owners might think so. 

Look closer, and you’ll see the Vegas RB faced two of the best defenses in the league the last two weeks New England and Buffalo. Though the schedule doesn’t soften too much for the Raiders coming up, it’s worth putting some feelers out to see if you can snag the workhorse back.

SELL: Derrick Henry (RB, Tennessee Titans)

Anyone who watches football and plays fantasy knows Derrick Henry is one of the best rushers in the game. Who could forget late last season and into the postseason, when he activated his own personal beast mode? I’m not here to question Henry’s validity as an RB1 in your lineup. No, instead I’m here to ask: When will Henry play again? The Titans have endured a significant outbreak of COVID-19 within their organization, and even though they’re slated to play next Tuesday as I write this, would any of us be shocked if that game against Buffalo got postponed or forfeited? If your league mates aren’t paying attention, now is the time to deal Henry and see if you can get a king’s ransom in return.

BUY: Marquise Brown (WR, Baltimore Ravens)

Owners of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown are not happy. He’s had only one quality showing this year Week 1 against Cleveland. He has zero touchdowns this season. And going into Week 5, Brown is the WR48 in Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues and WR55 in standard leagues.

Not exactly the hot start that managers expected. But look on the bright side: Hollywood gets two juicy matchups the next couple weeks in Cincinnati and Philadelphia, and I think he’ll capitalize on the opportunity. Scoop up Brown now, and take a victory lap when he finally reaches the end zone on one of his signature splash plays.

SELL: Tre’Quan Smith (WR, New Orleans Saints)

People have been trying to make Tre’Quan Smith happen for a while, and last week in Detroit, it finally did. Smith caught all four of his targets for 54 yards and two scores, registering 21 fantasy points. If you took the gamble and started him, you were a happy camper. 

However, now is the time to sell high. Drew Brees’ favorite target, Michael Thomas, is scheduled to return either this week or after the Saints’ bye. And even if Thomas is out Sunday against the Chargers, Los Angeles has a pretty stout pass defense. Brees will likely do what he does best dump it off to Alvin Kamara. See if you can deal Smith to a needy team and acquire some RB depth in return.

Thanks for reading. For more takes, find me on Twitter @Chris_Hayes8.

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