Well, not me. A couple of my (fantasy) baseball players did. As irrelevant as it is, it ruined my day.
I’m in the championship matchup for one of my baseball leagues. I have never played in a championship game before; this is only the second year I’ve been in a head-to-head league, so opportunities haven’t been plentiful. I built my squad, Baseball So Hard, through good drafting, shrewd free agent pickups, timely trades, and understanding the keeper rules of my league.
(I joined the league last year, the first season they used keepers. Each team can keep up to five players, and they are drafted in the same spot each year you keep them. For example, keeping a guy you took in the fifth round in 2012 cost you your fifth round choice in 2013. Undrafted free agents are counted the same as 25th round selections.
In 2012, I selected Mike Trout in the 25th round, making him my last draft pick every year for the rest of eternity. Or at least until they change the rules. I then picked up Bryce Harper after someone dropped him (!) before he made his debut. He was drafted in the 24th round. I had drafted Edwin Encarnacion in the 19th round, and picked up an undrafted Manny Machado in August. This season, someone drafted Wil Myers in the 23rd round and cut him. I stashed him on my bench until June. I then picked up Jose Fernandez, who was undrafted, and have carried him on my roster even after the Marlins shut him down.
So here are my last five draft picks in 2014: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Wil Myers, and Jose Fernandez. Myers is the oldest of this group. He’s 22.)
My team is stacked for the present and the future; I can afford to deal high draft picks because I have five guys who will be taken in the top five rounds stashed away at the bottom of my draft. I am set up to start a dynasty.
Of course, building a dynasty requires something else aside from good young players. Before you win a string of championships, you first have to win one championship. And coming into today, I was set up nicely to do just that.
My offense is a little bit better than my opponent’s, and he has more guys with off days this week than I do. He has a couple more pitchers, but on the whole, mine are much better. We weren’t looking at a blowout, but I certainly liked my chances of winning.
The Orioles and Rays played an afternoon game today, which meant four of my hitters and one of my pitchers were in action. Late in the game, Machado suffered what some have called a gruesome knee injury (I haven’t seen it, and probably won’t) rounding first base. This is terrible for Machado and for Orioles fans, but my second concern (after the well-being of the player, because you hate to see a bright young star go down) was with my own team. I don’t have a backup third baseman, and I’m not about to dump Machado back into the draft pool on the off chance he might be out for an extended part of next season.
As I was thinking about how to deal with this (I have already used three of my six allowed moves for the week), I put on the Phillies game. I picked up Roy Halladay this morning; not because I thought he would suddenly return to form, but because I would be able to get two starts out of him over the course of the week.
I got a third of an inning.
Halladay left the game after three batters and 16 pitches with arm fatigue. He’s done for the season. Most likely, so is Baseball So Hard.
And yet, checking the numbers after one day, I am in the lead. I’m getting crushed in the pitching categories, but once the guys on my roster have their starts, the gaps will close. But the pair of injuries will certainly hurt, if only for the fact that I might have to burn a move on a batter that I was saving to use on a pitcher.
I’ve never had overwhelming success with fantasy sports. For someone who puts the time and effort into my teams that I do, you would think I’d either win every year or learn my lesson and give up. I’ve done neither. And this baseball season doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the one where I start.
As they used to say in Brooklyn, there’s always next year. Get well soon, Manny.