OpinionApril 17, 2008

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Cleat Marks #5

By Madison Jones

I’m only going to focus on one particular Cleat Mark this time around. For those of us who love baseball, we can’t get enough, this is our time of year, and we’re enjoying it as much as we can. Playing fantasy baseball makes it even more enjoyable and makes us feel like we’re more of a part of the game. However, I freely admit that playing fantasy baseball is very long, takes daily monitoring, is tedious, and really isn’t the ideal fantasy sports game for someone who isn’t all that interested in grinding it out until the very end.

With that said, I’m not sure if it’s just me, but it really seems like a larger percentage of people are throwing in the towel early this season compared to years past. Every year there’s a few people who give up and quit if their number one draft pick hasn’t hit a bomb at this point or if their stud starting pitcher has been lit up once or twice, but this year just seems to have a larger group of people ready to give up. I personally don’t understand that at all. We are now around ten percent of the way into the season. There’s ninety percent to go. Absolutely nothing is set in stone at the moment, so why would anyone think their team is sunk at this point?

If we’re talking about people in head-to-head leagues, all you’ve got to do is make it into the playoffs. Not impossible at all at this point if you’re a solid owner who is paying attention. In roto leagues, I’ve seen amazing comebacks from teams at the top of the standings and unreal meltdowns from teams where it looked like they were going to run away with a championship. Roto leagues may be a grind, but even half the season isn’t enough to decide if you should give up or not. Even with the absolute worst draft in the world, there should be free agents out there that can help keep you out of the cellar. That’s not even taking into account that a good trade can work wonders for your team, and that some of the people currently above you in the standings are only there due to a hot start or two out of their players. We know that for the most part, the hot starts will balance out to fairly close to normal numbers at the end of the year, just like the cold starts will.

Keep in mind that one player does not make or break your team. Both David Ortiz and Jose Reyes have had people up in arms and worried sick. I don’t blame anyone for that, but don’t think that without player “X”, you don’t have a chance. I don’t care if it’s your number one draft pick overall, even if that player totally bombs, it does not mean you cannot win your league. I owned Mark McGwire back in 2001. Anyone remember his line from that season? Does a .187 average with 29 home runs and 64 runs driven in during his 299 at-bat final season ring a bell? Here’s the big kicker to that… it was a weekly transaction roto league with no bench. Mark hit the DL once or twice if memory serves, but it seemed all season long he was “active”, but day-to-day so I couldn’t place him on the DL in my league. I also couldn’t trade him for peanuts, so I had that line in my lineup the entire season. I took second in that roto league, finishing less than two points out of first. Turns out I made that classic mistake of hanging onto him for far too long, and it ultimately sunk me. I still had a shot to win it all going into the final week of the year. I never once thought my season was over, and never contemplated quitting. Now while I can sit here and try to convince myself it was Big Mac’s fault, there are tons of ways to gain or lose two points in a roto league. While me not being mentally able to let Mark go made things tougher, that wasn’t the sole reason I finished second. So don’t fool yourself into thinking that if stud “X” bombs, that your team is shot. It’s simply just not true.

Now is actually a really good time to start analyzing your team (or teams). Really look at the exact standings and your roster. Find your strengths, find your weaknesses, and see if there’s a nice trade to be made. Find someone who’s weak where you are strong and work out a deal. Scour your free agent pool, and then dig through it again. There is always someone out there that can help you. Don’t expect to be able to sit back and have a championship come to you, it doesn’t typically work that way no matter how great of a draft you might have had (or thought you had). If championships were gift wrapped, this game wouldn’t be any fun. It’s even more fulfilling to be able to say at the end of the year that you had the worst draft of your life (and mean it!), but still managed to win the league. Trust me, I’ve done it, and it feels great. I’ve also drafted solid teams where my sleepers panned out just right and all was fairly smooth sailing, but that doesn’t happen often and the more obstacles you overcome on your way to victory, the sweeter it is. So to all fantasy owners out there, never give up, fight to the end, and EARN yourself a championship.

Madison Jones is always lurking in the shadows of the Cafe. When he does venture into the forums, you can find him posting as Madison.
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