Throwing In The Towel

Warning: this entire post is about my fantasy team. I’ve been told that, like hearing about someone’s dreams, this is something that no one cares about. However, I personally am actually fascinated by reading about other people’s fantasy teams, so I’m going for it anyway:

My “home” fantasy league is a very deep fourteen team 6×6 (normal categories + OPS + holds) roto league with a snake draft and eight keepers with contracts. The league has been going for for nine years but this is only my fourth year after inheriting a terrible, terrible team — my best keeper when I got the team was Bobby Abreu. I didn’t really realize how long it would take me to get to a point where the team felt like it was completely mine, but it turns out that the answer was “three full seasons.” Going into this year’s draft, I knew that I had a collection of keepers that could win the league, and I just had to draft around them correctly. My keepers were, in no particular order

I did well in the draft. I added Brian McCann and Yunel Escobar to my infield, Yoenis Cespedes and Adam Jones and J.D. Martinez to my outfield, plus a few other fliers in the late rounds. I focused a lot on pitching, which has typically been my weak spot, adding Sean Marshall, Sergio Romo, Huston Street, Neftali Feliz, Lance Lynn, Ricky Nolasco, Doug Fister, and several holds guys in the later rounds. Later, on the waivers, I picked up Chris Capuano, Ernesto Frieri, and others. A couple of the guys in the league posted messages to the board at the beginning of the season predicting my win. I made a bet with my boyfriend about it. And then the season began, and for one day, I was atop the standings. One awesome day.

And then… my ship started sinking. Between Pujols, injuries piling up, Pujols, a couple other guys in the league having the Matt Kemps or Josh Hamiltons of the world on their teams, and Pujols, my spot in the rankings just continued to err downward, settling right around 10th-12th place for the last several weeks, no matter how many tweaks I made. Looking at the individual stategories, it seems like my generalist / little-bit-of-everything strategy kind of worked, actually. I’m not at the bottom of any one category. I just happen to be precisely near the bottom of the middle of every single one.

I refused to give up. I started sending out trade offers to people a few weeks ago, offering first and second round picks in next year’s draft for shortstops that steal bases or closers. Not a single one of them bit. I continued to watch my team descend the ladder. I studied Pujol’s swing as if I was some kind of expert, trying to pick apart whether he could “recover” in time to save my team. I picked up every hot bat and studied every matchup obsessively…

And then, one day last week, I stared at the leader board for an entire afternoon and… I gave up.

I am a loser.


I updated my trading block and gave away McCutchen, whose contract expired this year, for a pick in next year’s draft. Now I’m trying to get rid of some of my other decent non-keepers for picks or minor leaguers. Giving up never feels good, especially when you think that your year has arrived. But it’s an interesting thing about playing in such a long term league, and it’s apropos of being an Astros fan right now. Sometimes, you just have to keep on looking forward, past this year’s shiny crown, and on to the next one. Or the next next next next one, in the Astros case. Ataying invested in my terrible team feels good, like I’m working on something big (uh, that “big” thing being a future fantasy championship).

Next year is the ten year anniversary of the league, so we’re Vegas bound for the draft. I’m going to win a ton of money, and then I’m going to win the league. Bet on that shit.

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Summer Anne Burton is a writer and illustrator living in Austin, Texas. She is drawing pictures of Every Hall of Famer.

14 Responses to “Throwing In The Towel”

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  1. Chike says:

    Most MLB teams have played 50 of 162 regular season games. That’s about 31 percent of the year gone and 69 percent remaining. Heh…69 percent…

    Anyway it’s way too early for a firesale. Pujols is looking like the best player in baseball again, Frieri will (hopefully) close in LA and I wouldn’t look down on that rotation. There’s a reason most leagues have a trade deadline in August. Give it until July then reevaluate – if for no other reason than higher demand and increased competition for a smaller pool of players.

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    • To be fair, part of the reason for me “throwing in the towel” so to speak is much more specific than I went into in this post — the people holding the top four spots are out so far ahead of everyone else that even with 70% of the season left to play, it’s pretty dire. Also, this is the time of year that everyone in this particular league starts offering up trades, if I wait until the deadline for a guy that only has this season left, like McCutchen did, there’s a good chance I would get a much lower pick in next year’s draft or no offers at all. I also haven’t been any higher than eighth place in the last month +.

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  2. jackyz says:

    Just a suggestion- keep Ackley. He tends to start off super slow, then he catches all hot and sexy midseason. Hopefully he’ll have a hot streak coming up.

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    • I like Ackley, but because I have Pedroia and he’s my “franchise” (can keep as long as I want) player, I’ve been shopping Ackley out since I first picked him up…

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  3. oldschoolways says:

    I know the feeling. I’m middle of the pack in my keeper league (5 keepers), largely on the strength of Edwin Encarnacion and Bryan LaHair. I figured that wasn’t a sustainable way to success so I dealt Holliday for high draft picks and Verlander for Lee plus high draft picks (the Holliday trade also opened up a spot for me to roster Wil Meyers). Dealing keepers and accumulating draft picks was oddly freeing. I’m still streaming pitchers this year and can’t wait for Meyers and Bauer to get called up, but yeah rebuiliding is kind of fun. We’ll see if it’s still as fun in late July.

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  4. If you’ve really thrown in the towel, then acquire Bruce Chen.

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  5. thefatlady says:

    Last year in my 12 team 10×10 league a guy who spent the entire season in the bottom 3 teams rocketed out of the basement in late August and won handily. It’s way too early to quit.

    Heck the 2nd through 4th place finishers were settled on Jon Papelbons last pitch of the season and places changed base on whip & era numbers only differing by thousanths of a point. Fantasy baseball is a high variance game.

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  6. BX says:

    Who’s the middle one acting like a drunk on the top row?

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  7. illinibob says:

    I had a similar story, thought i had a top team, lost bailey and ellsbury in week 1 and plummeted. Was thinking about trading everybody on my team for mike trout, and then my team caught fire. Currently 5th, 5 points out of second. Hang on!

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  8. My echo and bunnymen says:

    If only I was in a keeper league I could “throw in the towel” for next season. However, I’m stuck in a league where I’ve fallen pretty far behind because of the injuries I’ve received and the weak start by some (Bautista). I also traded J. Zimmermann and LoMo for Lincecum and still have received little to nothing. I tried to buy low or sell high, in Prado’s case. My whole entire concept of what makes a good pick and good fantasy has been devastated. I also feel like an Astros fan, but I also feel like trading away players just to keep the previous year’s league winner from winning.

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