Kicking Rocks: When Your Hands are Tied

While we sit here on the site and talk about September call-ups, streaming pitchers, and potential waiver claims to help for the final few weeks of the season, there are some that are forced to just sit and wait it out; helpless to their cause after months of intense work.  There are waiver claim limits, innings caps, games-played restrictions, and sometimes just a constrictive set of rules that prevents any more tweaking of what you hope will be a championship team.  There’s nothing you can do but stare at your live scoring each night while hoping and praying your place in the standings is either secure or on the upswing.  It’s truly an agonizing situation.

My primary league, which offers a reward that is more than just bragging rights over my friends, is just such a league.  It is a 15-team mixed, keeper, roto league, starting two players at each position with six outfielders, nine pitchers and a 10-player bench.  Due to the depth of the rosters, there is no acquiring of players via free agency after a blind bid, supplemental draft that takes place in the second week of May.  After that, the player pool is closed.  It’s about foresight and knowledge.  You want a September call-up?  You better know who’s coming early in the season.

The trade deadline is the All Star break.  It’s usually filled with a flurry of deals, both minor tweaks and dump trades for keepers.  Working the phone lines is busier than a Jerry Lewis telethon, as you know that these are the players you will be rolling with for the entire second half.  You have to be sure that the players you’re acquiring are going to be strong enough to not only warrant regular playing time for the rest of the season, but produce at a high level as well.

Now while the benches are plenty deep and you can move players up and down each week, there comes a point where you just can’t do any more.  Injuries, minor league playoffs and incorrect decisions on potential call-ups have cut me off from doing anything else.  It is the most aggravating time of the season.  The guy in first place has run away with the title, but second through sixth are tighter than a….well, you can come up with your own colorful metaphor here…and I’ve never felt so helpless while staring at my live scoring each night.

Every tweaked hamstring, every oblique strain, every time a manager decides to rest one of my guys, a little piece inside me dies.  I lose a point here, I gain a point there.  I’m in second today and sitting in fourth tomorrow.  The wife knows exactly what place I’m in based on my level of grumpiness and my uncanny ability to overreact to every little annoyance in the world.  Even the dogs steer clear of me as my aura obviously screams, “Leave me alone!”

I try not to look.  Really I do.  When I’m at the computer working I constantly remind myself that there’s nothing more I can do and I may as well just wait until the season ends to check.  But I just can’t help myself.  It’s like a train wreck you just can help but watch.  I click on the site, check my live scoring and mutter some sort of irrational promise to that universal spirit that ties and binds all things.  As soon as I do, Josh Johnson goes from throwing a no-hitter in the sixth to giving up three runs in the seventh.  I hang my head and curse myself for looking.

More than five months of cultivating this roster comes down to hope and prayer.  I try to distract myself with my other leagues but it doesn’t help.  I am constantly drawn back to the one in which I can no longer help myself.  It’s painful.  It’s agonizing.  Nothing left to do but cross my fingers, hope for the best and prepare to kick some damned rocks in October.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

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This article speaks to me: I play in a 16 team 5×5 h2h league where we get ONE transaction per week in the playoffs (2-week matchups). A whole storm of awful hit my roster all at once w/ the wheels coming off Anibal/JMac/Lynn after our trading deadline, Ortiz getting gimpy, and Kenley Jansen not having the heart to close out games during rounds 1 and 2 of the h2h playoffs. I also now will inevitably watch Lance Lynn light it up today securely on my milb roster where he’s stuck for this week…sigh

I am stuck w/ Anibal and Jmac on my roster for the playoffs and it’s an excruciating start/sit call each time when I see my ERA and WHIP leading but need help in K’s/W’s

That being said this has led to some pretty successful “creative” pickups the last 4 weeks: Mayberry, Phelps, Villanueva, and Werner……if only I could make some more moves!!!