It’s impossible not to love a fantasy baseball draft. I can even get my non-sports-watching wife to understand why the draft is exciting. Each year, I prepare too much. That’s not a good thing. It’s a waste of time. The plan goes out the window after ten minutes anyway — the guy you’re convinced you love more than anyone else could possibly love him gets taken early, and you’re left to rejigger your entire plan. And you spend the rest of the draft three picks behind, just trying to catch up, and get back on top of things. But that’s the fun of it. The adrenaline. The back and forth — whose ups and downs do you want to live with for the next six months, who do you want to be rooting for, who do you truly believe in, beyond what the numbers say you should?
You finish and you’re drained. A few hours feels like a week. And a minute. At the same time. And you’re confident. You’re the team to beat. A few things just have to go your way, the usual luck with injuries… and you’re set. Or at least you’ll be competitive. You’ll be in it until the end.
Someone has a bad April. Someone gets hurt. Your pitchers give up runs they shouldn’t be giving up. But it’s early. Leagues are won and lost by the moves that get made, the players that are given up on too early. The panicked trades. They’ll turn it around. April bleeds into May and you’re still okay. You’re within fighting distance. A good couple of weeks. The right guy off the waiver wire.
May turns into June and a couple of teams are already folding. They never had a chance. They were just kidding themselves. But you can scavenge and fill some holes for the inevitable turnaround. You make a couple of trades, sacrifice a little bit of the future. Not too much, because you want to hedge your bets. It hasn’t been a great start, maybe it’s not your year. But you’re going to give yourself a chance.
And you’re still looking at those box scores every night, still waiting for the turnaround. The hot streaks. A bad line on July 1 can still look decent with a strong second half. He won’t be under .200 all year. A couple more teams pack it in, and you’re the first one with those trade offers sent. You’re going to surprise your league-mates. They think you’re out of it, but you’re just getting warmed up.
The All-Star Break comes and goes, and, sure, you’re still in the middle of the pack, but a couple good weeks and you’re right back in it. Another shrewd trade, and there’s some life in those slumping bats…. You’re checking the box scores, maybe not all of them, not every night, but you’ll know if something’s happening, you’ll feel it.
It’s August, and you’re just going to give it a couple more weeks. After all, you’ve missed the boat on getting any value for your guys — everyone’s already divided into buyers and sellers. Except for you, in the middle, buying just enough to keep pace, but that’s really all you’ve done. Keep pace. And still you’re far behind. A bad week, and it hits you all at once. You’ve been kidding yourself. It’s not your year. If only you’d admitted it sooner, you could have set yourself up for next season, but no, you had to fool yourself into thinking you had a chance.
You find one buyer left, you dump some players for a fraction of their worth, just to do something. And now what’s the point? You’re still in the middle, but if you’re heading in any direction, it’s down. Why do you bother? Is it even worth doing this again next season? All the time spent, the mental energy — why? It’s a fake team, it doesn’t matter, you don’t even win anything. Box scores? Whatever. They’re lucky you even check who’s still on the DL, and set your lineups. You missed a deadline? Who cares?
You can’t imagine ever being interested in this nonsense again.
Until November. When you look back at your team and realize there are some solid enough keepers there… and maybe… with a good draft… who knows? You start prepping, and there’s real hope. Optimism. You’re confident. You’re the team to beat. And it all starts again….
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