You’ve given it your all for 5 months of season after a few months of off-season prep. You had good keepers, drafted what looked like a good team, made good trades & pickups, covered your injuries, and you diligently set your lineups & stayed compliant all season, often when real life stood in the way. But, it didn’t work out. Your Head to Head teams are on their last breath this weekend and barring a miracle will not make the playoffs. Your Roto Teams are so buried that even the most optimistic owner knows he is playing out the string, especially when looking at the math.
Unfortunately, we’ve all been there. Setting your lineups has now become a dreaded nightly “chore” & scouring the wire for pickups has completely lost it’s excitement. Your FAAB budget is tapped from trying to make a last-ditch run and you don’t even feel like answering any trade offers. You know you have to stay legal so you cover those nagging injuries and keep activating the pitchers with the P next to their names not even caring anymore if the matchup is good or not. Heck, you might as well mail it in and get ready for football right?
No, not even close.
Get ahold of yourself man!! So what if you are not going to win this season & you’ll catch the brunt of next Spring’s smack talk? You dished out enough of it this Spring to get what’s coming to you anyway. So what if there will not be a big check to cash? Hell, if you were relying on that check to pay some bills you shouldn’t be playing in pay leagues anyway. So, pull up your pants & focus on these last four weeks of baseball. There is still a lot more to play for as hard as it is to even think about now.
1. PRIDE: C’mon, you know how much pride you have when all the things you did in my first paragraph work out fine and you win your league or at least go deep into the playoffs. You are the king of your league, the Fantasy Guru for the winter. Hopefully this happens at least once every couple of years for you. If it happens every season then you need to up your game and find a more competitive league. If you are in a Roto League, even in 9th or 10th place, keep on playing. There will be some owners who will mail it in and stop trying. There are also owners who have probably used up all of their allotted pitching starts for the season and they will be stuck on the Wins and K’s totals they have accumulated. You can look at the standings and see that in a second. I’ve had seasons where I was in 10th on August 31st and finished as high as 3rd or 4th just because I didn’t let up on the gas. I always pace my starts, so in September I can watch as I pass teams in Wins and K’s one by one when they have nothing but middle relievers in their lineups. I may even move up in the ratios a bit even though I don’t count on it. I’m also going to pass that guy in 8th, 7th, 6th when he gives up and stops playing as hard. No, I’m not going to win my league, but in April, a 5th place finish looks a hell of a lot better than a 10th or 11th.
If it is a Head to Head League you can take a good amount of pride & get a good amount of gas from playing the spoiler. Beat the tar out of your last few match-ups and boot someone else out of the playoffs or knock them down a notch or two in the seedings. Maybe your league has a consolation round with a separate winner. Some leagues even have a payout for that too. The bottom line is that a crap season is a crap season, but no one else in your league is going to feel sorry for you. Kick their butts every chance you get.
And hopefully I never again hear someone claim to, or accuse someone else of tanking to get a better draft position next season. WHAT??
2. COMPLIANCE: I find myself in conversations all too often with people, even league mates, who don’t realize the mathematical relationship and influence that each team has on the others. You may be ticked off that 6 months of work is all for naught, but that is nothing compared to how your league mates will feel if you tank and unnaturally affect the outcome of your league’s season. In a Head to Head League you owe it to your league mates to play each matchup as if you were still in it. Once the playoffs start and you are out of it, continue to play, but find out your league’s policy regarding add/drops once the playoffs start. Some leagues expect the free agent pool to be the domain of the teams in the playoffs, so that is one time when you should not try being a spoiler. In a Roto League, the mathematically weighted equation that calculates the standings is 100% affected by every team including the last place team. You have an obligation to the purity of those standings to play as if you are still in it right to the end. I’m sure we have all seen Roto Leagues go right down to the last day of the season and be won by a point or two. If one team mails it in for the last month and loses it’s own standing in every category it WILL affect the final standings. If you disagree with that last statement I don’t have the time or patience to convince you otherwise, nor will I try. Please don’t play in my leagues though.
3. LEARN: This is a great time to review your season to see what mistakes you may have made. Review your draft against your mates to see if your strategy was flawed. Look at your add/drops, especially from April & May. Were you too impatient with players you had researched pre-season and drafted with high hopes? I drafted George Springer in one league this season and dropped him when he was 0 for his first month in the bigs. “Not ready for prime time after all”, I decided some time in May. We know how that worked out. I drafted Homer Bailey as my 2nd & CC Sabathia as my 3rd starter in several Roto leagues. Did you ever try to move the ERA and WHIP ratios after the all-star break? It can’t be done. Maybe you picked up some players but dropped them soon after without giving them a chance. How about trades? Did your trades help or hurt you? Were they well thought out or panic moves? I do this every season & find I learn a lot from reviewing my own moves over the course of 6 months in the transaction history.
Earlier i mentioned that if you win your league every season it is time to move on, but if you tend to finish near the bottom every season it is time to learn how other owners have success. Like chess, sales, management, etc, a Fantasy Baseball Owner gets better playing against owners better than he/she is, not by playing lesser ones. Learn from the teams that finished ahead of you this season and see what they did differently. Lastly read a lot of articles on strategy from experts or sports websites or right here where all we talk about is Fantasy Strategy.
4. PLAN: Before you know it pitchers and catchers will be reporting soon after the Super Bowl. At some point you will have to lock down your keepers for 2015. What better time than now to start planning for that. Even if your League Trade Deadline has come and gone you can prepare for next season by picking up some tradeable pieces for next season. Maybe someone dropped Tanaka or Matt Cain and they are on the wire. Depending on how many players your league keeps, guys like that may carry value either as keepers or trade chips used to better your keepers. Go ahead and laugh but I can think of several injured players that I grabbed late in a season that either became good keepers or I was able to add to a trade to improve them. Victor Martinez was one last season that I remember well. I’m sure I was laughed at until near the end of the season when he finished at the top of the catcher rankings.
5. RESPECT: I can’t think of anything that could be more embarrassing than an LM telling me that I am not welcome back the following season. I’m not talking about being a cheater, trouble maker or drama queen and getting the boot for it. I’m talking about being told that I don’t play the way the game is meant to be played. If you tank a team in September and stop playing don’t be surprised if someone in that league, especially the guy who gets screwed by your actions or in this case inaction, notices and makes a stink about it. Please don’t be surprised after that season if the LM invites you to find another sand box to play in next season. You’d be surprised how small the Fantasy Baseball Community becomes as you get into more and more competitive leagues and go up against some of the big players in the game. If that is your goal, then play by the established rules of Fantasy that top leagues expect you to play by. Just like any other walk of life, whether it is reality or fantasy, one is judged by the respect he gets from his peers. And what is a better example of a peer group then the universe of fantasy baseball? We all claim to love this game of ours and to love it is to respect it.
I wish you had a better season, I do, but if you didn’t there will always be next season, and football. Keep the pedal to the metal in the meantime.
6. THANKS: I want to thank all of the people out there in the Fantasy Universe who took the time to read my articles this season. It has given me great pride to consider myself one of you, and I still get excited when i see how many people have read what I took the time to write. Whether you agree or disagree with my views on Fantasy Baseball, I hope I have written something this season that helped even one of you have a better outcome this year, or at least helped start a debate or a good laugh near a water cooler in an office or shop floor somewhere. I also want to thank Corey Roberts of Major League Fantasy Sports and our tougher than nails editor, his beautiful wife Jessica, for giving me the chance to talk to you folks for the last year or so. I’m going to take a break for a while now and see if I can get my Fantasy Football Team to win a week or two before it tanks and I have to play out the string waiting for Pitchers & Catchers to report. I’ll probably have something to say long before that, so I’ll be back to giving you my take on all things Fantasy Baseball. Till then have a great last month of baseball and I hope you win your league and your real MLB team makes the playoffs. Thanks again, Joe Iannone a.k.a, 65Mustangs.