“Beat the drum, and hold the phone, the sun came out today; we’re born again, there’s new grass on the field …”
Mr. Fogarty said it about as well as most have. Major League Baseball is upon us once again, boys and girls, and Mudvilles all over the world are gearing up for joy. Of course, with Major League Baseball season comes that complicated, ever-proliferating source of joy and consternation: fantasy baseball. Fantasy baseball can be fun, but as you fantasy baseball managers know, it can be stressful … mostly, you know, in a good way. In no particular order, here are some aaack inducers I know a lot of you fantasy managers can relate to.
The last-minute lineup switch
Let’s say you’re in a league when the individual players lock as of their individual game times. Okay, not a big deal; most games start around the same time in their respective time zones, so you generally have to check maybe twice in a day — once for East/Central time zone, once for the western time zones. No problem. Let’s say you check around 6:35 pm for the round of games that begin around sevenish. You wait until the lineups are released, and by 6:50 pm you’re all set. You can set it and forget it and go do other stuff, or decide which game you’re going to kick back and watch. Until, say, 8:30 pm when you have a peek at your lineup to see which of your guys are playing in the later games. And your top SP, or primary source of home runs or RBIs, has a big fat line of goose-eggs next to his name. Da frak?!? You spend the next 20 minutes sleuthing like Daffy Duck in The Great Piggy Bank Robbery, and find out your power hitting corner infielder was a last-minute scratch. The worst is when it’s some random little thing you couldn’t have seen coming, like “coach’s decision” or a 24 hour stomach bug.
The week-long explosion you thought was a flash in the pan
This is why I stopped picking up guys like Luke Scott. Streaky cats like him can do something like rack up seven RBIs in a night, then go 0 for his next 12. Or he can rack up seven RBIs in a night, then like five the next day. What do you do with that? It’s a total trap situation; if you try to ride the hot hand, he can kill you the next day with four strikeouts. And of course, if you decide to keep him on your bench and play the odds … he’ll hit two dingers the very next day. And then keep putting up crooked numbers, until you say “okay, okay!” and play him. Then he’ll strike out three times and hit into two double plays. Of course, non-streaky players can do that, too.
Case in point, a few years ago, I had Paul Konerko on my team as a reliable starter. He’d begun to slump a bit, so I sat him. Spoiler alert: It was a weekly format, and this really came back to haunt me. Sure enough, I decided to give him a week off and he went bonkers that week. When it’s a guy you rarely sit, who blows up as soon as you give him a day or a week off, it’s doubly frustrating because nine days out of 10 you’d benefit from those numbers because he’d be starting.
Tech glitch and/or stuck in transit with gametime looming
This is particularly aaaack-inducing in leagues where lineups lock at the first start of the day. Let’s say you’re already on your smartphone or laptop, finishing up the day’s business or tooling around doing other stuff. When 6:50 pm comes around, you decide to make your fantasy baseball arrangements for the day. You scope out who’s starting and sitting, check for bad matchups and rain delays, and you’re all ready to move your pieces around … and … your Internet connection freezes. Or the bus or train you’re on goes into an area with bad wifi. It’s like one of those dreams where you’re running as hard as you can and not getting anywhere. Aaaaaack!
Or here’s a blast from the past, from the pre-smartphone days: You leave work, happy hour or the gym in time to get home and set your lineups with time to spare. Maybe you haven’t arranged your plans around it, but it seems to be lining up nicely. And your bus picks up a hundred thousand people at a major thoroughfare. Or your train stops between stations. Or you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while, and it’d be rude not to stop and talk. And then you have to bust your butt to get home by 7:02 pm, turn on your laptop and manage your lineup. I have literally sprinted home and up the stairs to turn on my laptop before first pitch. Only a couple of times, of course, but it’s happened. Mostly late in the season with a playoff seed on the line. Don’t laugh. I know some of you have done it.
Weekly formats in general
Weekly formats just frakin’ stink. Fantasy baseball heartbreak waiting to happen. See above.
The random day game you forgot/didn’t know about
This can be most disastrous in fantasy baseball leagues where lineups lock as of your team’s first game. It’s five or six in the afternoon, and you have a preliminary peek at your lineup to see if there are any asterisks or notes next to your players. And–da frak you mean, my lineup’s locked?!? You’re looking at a half-baked lineup that’s nothing like you had in mind for that Tuesday afternoon in July, and some dude has four RBIs on your bench while the guy you’re platooning him with is set to face Clayton Kershaw, against whom he’s 0-for-392. This is when it’s a bad idea to spike your smartphone … for the record. Not like I’ve done it. No, really, I didn’t say I was crazy. But AAAAACK.
But still …
You love it anyway, even with the moments of annoyance. You’ll be back this summer, just like me, occasionally clenching your fist at your laptop. Because fantasy baseball is fun, and the highs outweigh the lows … usually.