OpinionAugust 21, 2005

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Dos and Don’ts – Life in Last Place

By Erick Daniels

Out of the twelve teams in your fantasy league, there will be only one winner. At the start of the season you had a one in twelve chance of winning, but now your odds are slipping away, which could be due to on several factors. It may be your pitching, your hitting, or maybe you just happened to draft a “DL” team. Whatever it may be, you still have to face the fact that your team is no longer in contention. In a roto league, your league leader may already have a 20-point lead. In your head-to-head league, your league leader might have a lead of 10-15 games. So what does one do? The first instinct is to give up and walk away. Been there, done that. I’ve lost seasons in June because of the DL plague and because my hitters or pitchers didn’t perform to my expectations. So here is what owners who feel like they are too far back in the standings should do.

Learn From Your Mistakes
Ask yourself, “What did I do wrong?” Did you draft too many hitters? Too many pitchers? Not enough closers? Reopen your draft page and figure out what you would do differently. It’s important to learn from your mistakes or you’ll be doomed to repeat them next year.

Fair Trades
It’s important to keep all trades as fair as possible. Trading Derrek Lee and Roger Clemens for Eric Byrnes and Daniel Cabrera isn’t fair. I’ve seen countless situations in which the last place team will trade its best players to the team in second, in exchange for borderline waiver wire players.

Be a Team Player
For the first three months of the season the other mangers gave 110%, so just because your team is no longer in contention doesn’t mean you can’t be a team player. The worst thing you can do is to drop all your players. It’s not fair to the other managers and there’s honor in staying involved. In head-to-head leagues it’s still important to keep your players in the lineup and to rotate your pitchers. Ignoring your team could throw your league leaders off balance and someone’s hard work could be put to waste because of one owner’s decision to be immature.

Keeper Leagues
If you’re in a keeper league then you have even more incentive to stay in tune with your team. You can make some trades to rebuild for 2006, but remember to keep them as balanced as possible. Find out how many keepers you will get for 2006 and try to get the best players possible so that you’ll be ready and ahead of the game before anyone else.

Above all, try not to think of your league as a loss, but rather as a learning experience. You now have one more year under your belt, which will make you a better competitor the following season.

Ironically, Jon Michael Cain’s favorite team, the Giants, currently isn’t that far from last place. You can find more of Jon Michael’s thoughts on all things baseball in the Forums, where he posts as eftda.

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