MLBloggers Fantasy League
Earlier this season I got a chance to try something I had been meaning to check out and participate in for about 5 seasons. You always hear your friends and other people around you discussing the activities of their Fantasy Leagues, and how in-depth and how competitive they can get over the course of a season. I have had some previous experience with a ESPN Fantasy team in regards to College Football and NASCAR picks, but had never joined a competitve league.
What was even more exciting to me was the fact that this league would be formualted with 13 of my fellow MLB bloggers pitting their wits and their strategies against each other from the Opening Day first pitch to the last two weeks of the 2009 season. The final two weeks of the 2009 season would consist of two rounds of playoffs, which became some of the most intense weeks based on all of our competitve natures, and some of us (me included) were still refining our rosters within an inch of their lives.
And all of this started from a question asked by “Confessions of Baseball” ( Chris Powers) even before the 2009 Spring Training season. Chris was seeking interested people in participating in a season long head-to-head competition fantasy league with a foundation from the MLB bloggers as members.
The “League” membership was quickly formed and consisted of a great cross-section of bloggers like ” Julia’s Rants”, “Braves World”,”The Future Sox Blog”, “Team Clemson”, “Indianapolis Reds”, “Team Diatribe”,”Austin James Dreamer”, “Mets Main Man”, “The Mets Blog”,”How About Them Orangebirds” “Bay Area King of Cali”, “Bob’s Boston Green Sox”, “Rambling Ramblers” and of course, “Rays Renegade.”
So our first order of business after selecting our team names was the “Live Draft held on Valentine’s Day. Perfect day to pick players for the game we all love so much. I have to say, from my first pick of the “Live” draft ( Ryan Braun) to the last game played during the Championship Playoff series on October 4,2009 , this league was always fun-filled and extremely exciting.
And it was truly wild time sitting there on February 14th anxious and sweating during the “live” draft since I had never been in a situation like that drafting players round by round. From the first pick by “The FutureSoxBlog” of Hanley Ramirez to her last selection of J C Romero, the draft seemd to have come off perfectly.
I have to admit I did have few moments of getting a bit upset when someone selected my guy one spot before me, or if I missed someone and saw him go within two spots of my missed selection. But it was an extremely awesome time, and one I really want to try again next season. I got a new respect for the MLB scouts and the MLB’s front offices by sometimes taking soem critical time trying to select the best players with in the two minute time lines.
But I thought I selected a pretty competitve roster, and even got a few sleeper picks mixed into the bunch. I did get a pure gem when I selected Tampa Bay Rays uber-superman Ben Zobrist in the 34th round and he rewarded me constantly during the entire season. But I also made a few amateur mistakes that came back to haunt me throughout the season. After the Draft, the league membership was polled and I was rewarded with the first Draft Championship virtual trophy.
I mean I made some pretty critical mistakes throughout the season and for some odd reason I accidently dropped Rockies First Baseman Todd Helton early on in the season. He was not the first blunder, but was one of the one that made me kick myself a few times. I also at one point in the season had three very important cogs in the Rockies outfield platoon consisting of Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler, but I tried to be smart and let them slip through my fingers back onto the Waiver wire and onto other teams. But the one that really irked me was the one I did by total mistake, and it cost me dearly.
I was trying to gain another frontline starter and accidently dropped Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson for someone I ended up dropping within a few weeks. That really hurt me, more for the fact that I am a huge pro-Jackson supporter and I dropped the ball totally on that move. I wish I could say I was trying to get him through the waiver system without anyone seeing him, but I messed up big time, and I regretted the move from the moment I hit the Enter buttom on the computer.
But I get a few guys I felt might make a huge impact in the 2009 season, but they either got injured or were not effective throughout the season. I selected Josh Hamilton in the 2nd Round, and kept him through the season hoping for a healthy return. But after his first injury during the season, he did not possess the same power and monster numbers I was hoping for this year.
But I had a few players who went down with unexpected injuries after they began the season on a truly positive note. Players like the Brewers Ricky Weeks and the Rays Jason Isringhausen, who both went down and would be sidelined for the rest of the season. But also bad season starts from guys like Rays new DH Pat Burrell and the Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco had me sweating at time during the season before I gave up on them and dropped them from my roster.
But besides the pick of Zobrist, I did feel I picked up a few other good sleeper picks. I selected Oakland/Colorado basher Jason Giambi in the 30th Round, and also ended up getting Seattle slugger Russell Branyan, who had the best season of his career before going down with an injury in September. I got a small dose of what it felt like to be a General Manager to try and adjust and seek a few select players that would make a difference in my team. But fortunately, I did not have to juggle payrolls or decide MLB service time in this league like the actual MLB GM’s have to do every day in their jobs.
During the season I have to admit, some teams creeped up on me and scared me to death during the weekly match-ups. I selected 7 members of the Tampa Bay Rays for my roster, and if they did not play up to snuff, my team took a dive fast. But I was happy with my Rays offensive selections of Zobrost and Carl Crawford and added and released pieces like Burrell, Willy Aybar and Akinori Iwamura during the season. Gregg Zaun even made an end of the season appearance after he was picked up by the Rays after a trade with the Orioles.
But my other two main pieces for my Rays offensive foundation might not happened if not for some great trade partners. I ended up trading with the “Mets Main Man” and sending the Brewers Ryan Braun to his team for Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett and eventual Nationals closer Mike MacDougal. That gave me a consistent bat at shortstop, and also someone who could steal some bases for me.
ond trade might have a few people scratching their heads a bit, but it is my faith I have in this player that made this trade a sure thing for me. On June 1, 2009, I traded Angels closer Brian Fuentes for B J Upton straight up with “The Mets Blog“. I still think this was a great trade, because Upton ended up becoming the July Paler of the Month for the American League, and ended up the season on a bit of an offensive tear.
I bounced around in my divisions standings until the final three weeks of the season when I balanced out and found myself on top of the hill. I ended up the season with the MLBlogger’s Fantasy Leagues best record at 128-79-13 and was awarded my second virtual trophy. But then it was time for the Playoffs, and I was selected as the number 1 seed and ended up fighting my major competition in my division who got seeded 4th for the playoff rounds.
For two weeks “Braves World (Gregg Henglein)“ and my roster fought back and forth before I finally started to take a slight advantage and ended up winning the first round of the Playoffs with a 6-4 record. Then came the finals against a team that I had fought me hard during the season, but I expected more extreme action this time. So during the last two weeks of the season it was ‘Rays Renegade” against “Austin James Dreamers (Darion Morgan)” for the League title.
And I have to admit, I was selecting starting pitching and still tweaking my roster up until the last day of the season. It was so close of a battle that the series really did not turn until the last few days of the regular season. “Austin James Dreamer” took an early lead and made me sweat more than a few times during the two week period. That also corresponded perfectly during the time that the Rays got flattened by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in two straight series and did not rebound until they got back home.
But finally my guys began to win some starts, and began to drive in some RBIs and It went back and forth from a 4-5-1 record to a 5-5 record to finally getting settled at a 6-4 record. And I was really sweating a bit when on the last day my roster advised me I had used up my alottement of pitching and I would not getting any more statistics from my starters on that day. I was at the mercy of “Austin James” pitching staff to secure the League title. So finally on October 5th, I was declared the MLBBloggers Fantasy League’s first Champion and got my third virtual trophy of the season.
In the end, I glanced at the final totals for my teams a found some interesting facts. My pitching staff had accumulated 2,369 strikeouts, over 490 more than my closest competitor. Also amazing to me is that fact those same starters got me a total of 178 wins, which was 35 wins more than anyone else. I had built my original team based on offensive power, and my pitching staff ended up being the strong part of my league team. I did lead the league in stolen bases and RBI, but fell a bit short in runs and HRs.
I admit, it was a great fun every week being pitted against other people and using my head for more than a baseball cap rack. I am really looking forward to the January announcement of the reformulation of the MLBloggers Fantasy League for the 2010 season. For now I have a league title to defend, and I am really excited to again include this great event into my yearly baseball plans..
I want to thank all 14 members of MLBlogs who particiapted in the league and look forward to going from the “Live” Draft to the Playoffs again in 2010. It was an amazing experience, and it even got me to join a Fantasy Football and Hockey League on ESPN this year to get some added experience.
I had never gotten so much fun out of a computer based gaming activity as I did in this season’s fantasy league. I know it is not an activity for everyone, but I highly recommend doing it because of the great competition and the great amount of experience and fun you can have taking the role of a team owner and adjusting your roster by adding or subtracting to your team throughout the season.
So I ended up on October 6th opening a small bottle of Mumm’s champagne and spilling it all over the grass outside my apartment building. The neightbors might have thought I was nuts, but I wanted to experience the last part of being a team owner. I wanted to have that celebration and that extreme moment of knowing all the work was worth it. As I picked up a towel from the ground and wiped the stinging chamapgne out of my eyes I remembered the same thing I experienced with the Rays in 2008. I felt pride, honor and an inner feeling of accomplishment………..And yes, I yearned for more.