I may not be one of the brains at FanGraphs or Baseball Prospectus, but I fancy myself a pretty knowledgeable fan of the game of baseball. The vast numbers appeal to the old Dungeons & Dragons dork in me and the OCD map in my mind’s attempt to retain structure and sanity. The history tickles the fancy of my academic side. Somehow, fantasy baseball encapsulates those particular facets of my favorite game.
And yet, I am a perennial loser in the three fantasy leagues I’ve stayed with. I haven’t failed 100% of the time, but my successes are few and far between. I can count the number of championship trophies I’ve won in fantasy baseball on my thumbs. Yes, I have two thumbs.
The last of my two seasons of glory came way back in 2008. The league? Oh man, this one’s insane. The league name is a yearly iteration pun on the amateur film title within The Big Lebowski. I’ll give you a minute to look that one up, if you need to. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in this wacky league. There are 20 teams; eight more than a traditional 12-team league. What about stat categories? In a traditional league, you’ll see either five-by-five or seven-by-seven. Child’s play. In the Logjammin’ league, we throw down 14X14. As you’ll see from the photo below, featuring my position players, why wouldn’t the other guys in the league give me crap about my love affair with Jed Lowrie?
When you look at my pitching staff, you see that I was smart enough to score on Edinson Volquez‘s career year, but that I didn’t overvalue saves.
Even though he helped me win a championship in a totally insane league, I still never have liked Ervin Santana.
So, flash forward to this year. In fact, I’ll be more specific. How about this Saturday, the 19th of September, 2015. Wait, let me give you some history first; we’ll get back to Saturday in the future.
I have three leagues, like I said before. Two of those leagues play rotisserie style. The third one is head-to-head, weekly match-ups. When I first got into this league, I didn’t like head-to-head play. It may have had something to do with the fact that I inherited a miserably bad team. In the spirit of taking on someone else’s mess with this team, I named my team “Heathcliff‘s Scrotum”. That first season, in 2013, The Scrote Squad went 5-16, missing the playoffs by a margin comparable to the distance between planets in our solar system. Then last year, I adjusted to the scoring system that clearly favored a lot of pitcher-streaming. A bulk of two-start starters in a week gave you an advantage over an opponent that was more sentimentally attached to their players. Of course you hang on to stud, ace pitchers, but the rest can be on a merry-go-round of two-start opportunism. In 2014, my team improved to 9-12, still missing the playoffs, but with heads held high as we again played whipping boy in the ‘consolation ladder round’. That ladder round is really just a nice way of saying, “Here, have a conciliatory feeling of necessity to your continued playing, you chumps.”
This year, The Scrote Squad went 14-7; narrowly getting into the playoffs with a victory in the final week, combined with a loss by a potential tie-breaker candidate. In the first week of the playoffs, I absolutely crushed my opponent. After a tight match-up through Wednesday, September 9th, I put the smackdown on the best team in the league to win by 71.5 points. I was in the Championship Round!
The Championship Round. What a glorious place…until your team stumbles out of the gate, fails to ever gain any traction, and then dies due to a lack of quality pitching starts strung together. All of Sunday the 20th’s games mattered, factoring in the final score, but were pointless, as my team was dead in the water by Saturday afternoon.
The defeat is disheartening. Yes, I wanna win, but I can also take pride in a three-year turnaround with me at the helm, validating my delusion that I could be some Fantasy Theo Epstein. That delusion does exist, despite the fact that I drafted Kris Bryant in a non-keeper round.
However, the real comfort came when I turned on this evening’s Toronto Blue Jays-New York Yankees game. David Price, who was also the ace of The Scrote Squad, is pitching against the Yanks. As a Boston Red Sox fan, I’m pulling for Toronto to take the division and beat the Yanks. And while the race is still close – the Jays have a 2.5 game lead coming into this game – I’m able to enjoy it in a much calmer manner. I got to enjoy Price striking out Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the third in a very different way. Sure, that strikeout and Price’s subsequent wiggling out the jam with no damage would’ve earned my team some needed points if the season were still going. But it’s over.
I’m no longer chewing my nails during moments of chaos and confusion. I no longer have to plead with both Jon Lester and Carlos Martinez to pitch eight shutout innings against each other yesterday to possibly preserve some sense of hope for a team I knew was dead.
Now, I can just sit back, maybe relax, and enjoy pennant-race and then playoff baseball with barely any strings attached.
That is, unless the Yankees get to the World Series and I have to listen to all that “Yankee Mystique” garbage.