Here’s something you might not know about me: I love fantasy baseball.
Baseball has always been my favourite sport to watch. The Blue Jays are my sports team of choice and my favourite summer pastime is watching the Chatham Anglers lose terribly in Cape League Baseball. #GoAnglers!
However, my interest in ball didn’t run very deep. I didn’t pay much attention to the players, the positions, or the more intricate rules – until I met Cedric.
Our second summer of dating, I discovered fantasy baseball. Cedric belonged to a league consisting of his friends and their significant others. That summer, I learned what a Mookie Betts was and how to make a trade. The whole thing looked like a lot of fun, especially since Cedric won that season. I wanted to play, too.
The following summer, I was deemed significant otherly enough to join the league. Picking my team name was easy: The Chatham Anglers (#GoAnglers!) Picking my players – not so easy.
I felt an immense amount of stress on draft day. I had no idea what I was doing, but I tried to rally a nice little team together. I can’t remember who was on it other than Zach Britton. And Yam Gomes, I think.
Just a month into the ball season, Cedric and I were picked to participate in the 5-month long Woods Explorer journey. This was both a blessing and a curse. It was a curse because we had limited internet access – so for the ten or so days we were in the hinterlands of the Northwest Territories, I had no way of switching guys off the bench or ditching injured players. On the other hand, it was a blessing because we went on many long hikes, which gave me lots of time to dissect Cedric’s brain. I learned a lot about baseball that summer. There seemed to be no question that Cedric could not answer.
Cedric has been amassing baseball knowledge pretty much since birth. I am convinced he knows every player on every team in the history of baseball. This gives him a distinct competitive advantage. For example (hypothetical, but similar to many conversations we had):
Me: Player X looks pretty good!
Cedric: Oh him? Yeah, he did really well in 2009, but when he hurt his back in the off season of 2010, he never quite regained his skill. His numbers are okay, but his team now has this brand new guy in the minors who is likely going to get called up soon to take his place, so he probably won’t get to play much. He is also getting on in age and who knows what will happen to those brittle bones.
Me: Oh… so I shouldn’t draft him?
Cedric: I mean, anything could happen.
Despite our lack of internet access that summer, Cedric somehow, once again, nabbed first place. As for myself, I earned a very respectable 11th place. Out of 12.
Last year, I changed my strategy up a little bit. The best thing about coming in 11th place meant that I got second pick. Josh Donaldson and I became the best of friends (12th place would have yielded Mike Trout, but JD – as I affectionately call him – had the Blue Jays touch, which, quite frankly, is priceless.) With a lot of luck, a little skill, and an insatiable obsession with the Yahoo Fantasy Sports app, I managed to bump myself from 11th overall to a very impressive 5th overall.
For the first time in the league’s 3-year history, Cedric did not place first. That honour went to Catty, Cedric’s friend’s wife. Catty hails from El Salvador and is the best trash talker of the league, by far. Case in point: her team name is “Mother F*ckers”
Draft day is still months away, but I’m already feeling the baseball buzz, so I thought I’d share a couple of tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Research the Players
Sure, Rotoworld is useful and all, but I have found that it is best to connect with players on a personal level: social media. I like to follow my current and prospective players on Instagram so that I get a better feel of what’s going on. For example, if it is some guy’s mom’s birthday, you KNOW he is going to bring his A-game that day, so get him off the bench. Other notes:
- The younger players are more avid users of social media.
- Many of them write only in Spanish.
- Marcus Stroman is my favourite player and he is very active on Instagram. Some of the stuff he posts is a little Justin Beiber-style cringe worthy, but I love the guy. I can’t help it.
Emotions run high in fantasy baseball (for me, at least). Some things, you simply cannot prepare for. For example: who knew my 12th round pick, Chris Colabello, would become entangled in a doping scandal! What a waste of a draft pick! It can also be traumatic when one of your guys gets traded to the National League (we play American League only), leaving a gaping hole mid-season.
It can go the other way, too: imagine the high you might get when your last round pitcher pick up ends up being the star of his team. I personally have never experienced it, but I hope to one day.
Don’t Get Emotional
My first year in the league, I became very emotionally attached to my players. When they were having a bad run, I didn’t want to kick them to the curb – that felt mean. I felt like I should give them a chance to improve.
Fat load of good that did me (see: 11th place). The next year, I adapted a cut-throat management style. Having a bad game? Boohoo, this isn’t Little League. I made a showstopping 39 moves last season (the most of everyone in my league). This isn’t necessarily a recipe for success (Catty only made 6 moves), but I feel like I got to know several different players and I felt like a wheeler and dealer. I’m still too afraid to make trades, though.
I will admit to allowing myself one emotional player. That, of course, would be Stroman. I picked him up way too early, but I regret nothing.
Find Your Own Style
As I prepare to enter my third year, I feel like I’m finally getting a grip on this whole fantasy baseball thing. Cedric has been a mentor of sorts, but I have a new strategy this year that goes against some of the things he has taught me. (I can’t divulge my strategy because my competitors might be reading this.) My goals this year are modest: bump up a mere 4 places and NAB FIRST PLACE!!!! VICTORY!!!