In the 2010 National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC), I was placed in a challenging league with a group of 14 other solid players, including three teams run by industry names.
After a lackluster start and a huge imbalance in favor of pitching (roughly 60-20), about ten days ago, my club worked its way into third place, ahead of the three industry teams, too. I had visions of cashing in as I did in 2009 when I followed up with a top-25 national finish.
Then Week 22 happened.
Just as my pitching staff made my season, it seems to have broken it.
My roster decisions for the period seemed straightforward enough. Javier Vasquez had been struggling and Jeff Niemann, a hurler who had excelled all season long, was coming off the disabled list. Out went the former and in came the latter.
The rest of the staff remained the same, a group that had led me to a then-league-high point total in pitching. Interestingly, on draft day, I drew a lot of askance looks from my industry competitors as they watched me take American League pitcher after American League pitcher.
That is where the bargains were and as such, I had no regrets – until Week 22.
They include Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee (6th round), MLB strikeout leader Jered Weaver (11th round), John Danks (13th round), C.J. Wilson (25th round) and closers Jonathan Papelbon (5th round) and Chris Perez (14th round). Joel Pineiro (21st round) resides on my disabled list.
During the season, I added National Leaguers Madison Bumgarner ($31 in late April) and Travis Wood ($41 in mid-July) via the free agent allocation bonus process (FAAB).
With a solid group like that, I remained confident I could hold my pitching position while concentrating my attention and remaining FAAB dollars on offensive improvement.
Perhaps taking the cue from Niemann, who certainly seems not to be right, here is the aggregate line of my staff last week: two wins, 8.795 ERA and 1.795 WHIP. Weaver, Wilson and the two closers were fine, but Lee’s 9.00 ERA was the best of the other five, with both Bumgarner and Niemann sporting ERAs over 20.
My bench options were James McDonald, who would have actually lowered my ERA for the week despite a dismal 8.526 ERA and Vazquez. Apparently, Joe Girardi shortened Javier’s leash considerably. He yielded just one run in 4 1/3 innings.
As a result, my team dropped ten points and six spots in the standings in what seemed to be a heartbeat. What was an exciting third place push has unraveled into a disappointing tie for ninth/tenth.
Can I recapture the ground lost? I don’t know.
I wish I could whistle a happy tune or offer some nuggets of wisdom, but sometimes, no matter what you attempt, fate can come around to bite.
Brian Walton is the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 12-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC last season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com.