Monday, September 18, 2006
I've Come to Wish You an Unhappy Birthday
Why Fantasy Sports Are Fucking Amazing
So I’m in a fairly competitive head-to-head baseball league. About 3/4ths of the guys study their shit, make good waiver pickups, assemble good teams, etc, etc. The other ¼ throw in the towel before summer starts. I draft a pretty respectable team, have a solid pitching staff (my strength is assembling stud starters) and make it to the semifinals (held this week, 9-10 to 9-17). There I meet my old friend Joey, a guy I used to work with at a restaurant in Manhattan. Joey grew up in Boston, but somehow managed to be a ridiculously dedicated Yankees fan. Joey’s team is called Yankee Yankmees and consists of around 7 to 8 Yankees at all times. Specifically he owns:
As you can see, this shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s.
Playing Joey’s fantasy team is like starting a fight with a redneck at a tractor pull who has 17 brothers and 42 first cousins standing around him. It’s fucking intimidating.
Joey’s offense completely destroys me at the beginning of the week, with the Yankees putting up 45 runs in 5 days. They’re busy tearing the shit out of Baltimore and Tampa Bay, while my Chase Utleys and Lance Berkmans are serving me donuts. I’m down 8-2 on Thursday, with only three days to make up a shitload of ground. The only thing I have going for me is that my studs haven’t pitched yet. I’ve got Santana and Weaver on Friday, then Hamels pitching on Saturday. I get solid starts from pretty much everyone, a couple of wins, and take him in K’s, ERA, and WHIP. Pretty soon I’m staring at a 5-3 deficit, with a couple of categories up for grabs. We’re tied on steals and wins, but I’m hopelessly behind in every offensive category. Except batting average. Oh sweet, sweet batting average. I’ll get back to you later.
On Saturday, I realize the only chance I have to beat Joey is to take wins and squeak out steals. That gives us a 5-5 stalemate, but the tiebreaker is ERA, which I’ve got in the bag. I pick up Jeff Weaver (clearly desperation time), Daniel Cabrera, and Jaret Wright. But….…none of them pull out a W. I’m screwed. Then Jason Bay steals his 2nd bag in two days, giving me the lead in steals. I still have hope. I’m only down 5-4 because Joey doesn’t get a win either (thank you Cla Meredith). That’s when we get back to that old standby, batting average. To start the day, I’m down 260 to 244. Not an insurmountable lead. On Sunday, the surmounting starts to happen.
My guys start to hit a little. Berkman, Figgins, and Dave Roberts all go 2-4. The Yankees have back-to-back day-night double-headers (jesus that’s a lot of hyphens), so on Sunday, they’ve got a late game at 8:30. I check in on the computer around 8:00, and see that I’m now down 255 to 257 on BA. With the Yankees playing Giambi (a 252 hitter), Jeter (343), and Posada (280), I realize that the law of averages is not on my side. I need said law of averages to fail and fail miserably. Appropriately my only chance to make it to the finals is for three Yankee hitters to have shitty games. God I hate the Yankees (not individually, just as a concept). Anyway, it happens to be my birthday, and I happen to be in the middle of a poker game while my fantasy hopes are being toyed with by no-name Boston pitchers, guys with names like Jarvis, Hanson, and Lopez. I have no idea who they are, but they are all I have. Posada singles in the first off Jarvis, and I assume it’s over. Then, Jeter and Giambi start helping me out. Jeter reaches on an error (thank you official scorer!), Giambi whiffs, Torre pinch hits with Matsui (another Yankmee), he K’s, and I take the freaking lead for the first time all week.
I’m up 5-4 with BA at 255 to 254. I’m fucking ecstatic. But then the 8th inning comes. The heart of the Yankee lineup is up, Giambi followed by Posada. I figure if one of them gets a hit, it’s over. And of course, because it’s my birthday and everything’s gonna break right for me……Giambi singles to center. It’s over. I’m losing BA 257 to 255. I turn off the computer and dedicate myself to playing good disciplined poker. You can’t win em’ all. I send a text to Joey congratulating him.
About 4 hours later I fire up the computer to see what the final tally was, say goodbye to some of the guys on the team (I’ve gotten pretty tight with David DeJesus), and wrap up my fantasy baseball season. So I think you know how this plays out by now. The Red Sox score a run in the 9th to take a 5-4 lead, and in the bottom of ninth Torre pulls out all the stops. After a Bernie Williams groundout, Torre puts in Johnny Damon to pinch hit for some guy named Andy Cannizaro. Did I mention Damon is on my team? Usually Yankees and Red Sox are impossible to draft at their rightful places in our league because of our heavy east coast bias. The thing about Damon, though, is that no one wants to touch him. The Yankee fans aren’t ready to jump on the guy who was partly responsible for the greatest act of self-destruction since Richie Tennenbaum’s meltdown at Windswept Fields, and Red Sox fans think he’s a traitor. So I get him in the 5th round, the 58th overall selection, and he does nothing but produce all year. And what does Johnny do? He gets a base hit. And who does Torre send up to pinch hit next? That’s right, Alex Rodriguez, another Yankee Yankmee. And what does A-Rod do? Pops out to shallow right center. Yankee fans engage in their favorite activity, booing A-Rod mercilessly, and I take Joey in batting average thanks to two ninth inning pinch hitting appearances. I advance to the finals, exhausted and elated. Fantasy sports, you are a filthy and brutal whore. God I love you.