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Emotional Rollercoaster Takes Toll, But…

Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Every baseball fan has his favorite players. You pull for your guys. You raise the roof when they excel and you wallow in deep sorrow when they fail.

In fantasy, the emotional rollercoaster is worse.  How can this be? Shouldn’t the emotional attachments made in fantasy be on par with reality baseball? Inarguably, the agony and ecstasy goes much deeper in fantasy sports because the investment goes beyond the emotional investment. The fantasy owner also has his ego and money on the line.  Months of preparation and of hopes and aspirations are invested in members of your fantasy line-up.

And the situation is especially intense when the ballplayer in question is not only on your fantasy roster but is also a member of your home team. Double your pleasure, double your depression.

How many of you out there are or have been emotionally attached to certain players on your rosters? No doubt everyone.  After all, we own our fantasy teams, right? No matter how certain players disappoint, day after day, game after game, you hang on to them. I plead guilty.

The auction amount paid often equates to how much you become attached to a player. Year after year, I stubbornly refuse to release or trade someone who cost a bundle on draft day—except this season—no matter how I plummet in the standings. How about you? How about giving up on a guy?

Around three or four seasons ago, C. C. Sabathia had a horrible start, losing something like 8 or 9 games before notching a win. Unfortunately, I drafted him for big bucks that year. As he kept losing, the vultures circled with trade bait. But I stuck with C.C. who eventually came around to salvage the season.

This season has been particularly trying for yours truly. Think 2011 American League MVP Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Doug Fister, Nick Hundley, and Cliff Lee (yes, Lee). It’s June 20 and Lee can’t even buy a win, despite his 1.21 WHIP and 3.48 ERA! Last year, he won 17 games for Philly and fanned 238 while pitching 232.2 innings. His 2011 WHIP— a dominating 1.027.

Hard to take. Wicked hahd!

In the 2012 draft, Hundley cost me only $4, but doubt he has been worth that much. For the bulk of this young season, he batting average has remained under the dreaded Medoza Line. Before game time today, Hundley was batting a miserable .169 with 44 strikeouts in 177 at bats.  Last year, the young Padre catcher provided me with a breakout season, hitting .288 with nine HRs and 29 RBI in 281 at bats. Hundley missed close to half the season due to injuries. So what happened this year? Bud Black is clueless and apparently so is Hundley.

Meanwhile, Fister and Youk have landed on and off, and on, the disabled list and have had their share of day-to-day throughout 2012. Fister, listed as Number Two in Detroit’s starting rotation before the season’s start, has been particularly frustrating. I had a chance to trade him for Sabathia in late April, but passed. What was I thinking?  After all, the highly touted Fister began the season on the disabled list while big bad C.C. started the season somewhat slow.

Of course, it didn’t help that big bad Sabathia hurls for the hated Yanks. As a native of theBostonarea, I remain a diehard Sox fan. This bias, unfortunately, spills over into my fantasy game. Have had Bronx Bombers on my teams in the past, but they have been few and far between.

As a serious fantasy player, I’m supposed to put emotional attachments aside. Yet after 20 years of living in fantasyland, I occasionally lose my objectivity when drafting. To be more specific, I typically draft one or two guys from the two MLB teams that are based in the two cities I call home: Beantown andSan Diego. Also have difficulty trading them.

This brings us to my biggest heartbreak of the 2012 season: Ellsbury (see earlier blog, Old Draft Day Habits Die Hard).Boston’s coveted five-tool center fielder was seriously injured after playing only seven games into the season.

To make matters worse, Ellsbury had cost me 31 bucks.  Devastated, I traded my most prized player a week later for none other than injury prone Youkilis, who is very publicly having his worst season.  Ugh!

To my credit, I actually traded Ellsbury but dread his return to action, which could come in a couple of weeks.  On the other hand, I’m anxious for Ellsbury to be activated to help the Sox turn around a lousy couple of months. Not used to seeing Boston at the bottom of its division. Heavy sigh.

Should’ve fled fantasy right after the 1993 season, my rookie year playing this infuriating game. That year, rapidly rising star Gary Sheffield broke my heart. He’d just come off an incredibly productive season in which he finished third in the National League MVP vote.  The bonus: he was actually a San Diego Padre!

Tragically, Sheff went down only a couple of weeks into the season and was done for the rest of the year. My first taste of how cruel fantasy can be. Heavy, heavy sigh.

Whew, I need to get off this rollercoaster, but that won’t happen. I remain hooked, and that’s a good thing.

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Check out my new novel, High Stakes Fantasy—An Alternative Reality Sports Thriller:  www.createspace.com/3825436


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