|This is a Guest Post from Josh Kruk. When Josh isn’t at his daytime gig as a digital marketer, he’s that guy at the bar staring at his phone like it’s a 3D magic eye painting. He is a Buffalo, NY native and sports fan, so he is fluent in sports related heartbreak and despair. The Red Sox fandom was an attempt at balancing out the misery, so far with mixed results. He and a college friend just started a baseball blog over at StripesAndSox.com. Here’s how you could guest post on Crackerjacks.|
Nerd confession time: last year I won my fantasy baseball league and it felt great. After 6 years in the league I finally took home a championship and some extra cash. Plus, of course, the invaluable commodity of bragging rights among my college friends. There aren’t many better feelings in the world than when a league mate and chucks a snark ball your way and you take a cricket bat to it with “Well guess what? I won the league!”
I am currently 1-0 in my league, but all that glory seems like a distant, faded memory. It’s a phantom limb. It’s a hazy dream. It’s something that Don Draper would evoke in an off-the-cuff monologue to sell shoes.
This is all thanks to Justin Upton. I owned him in Fantasy for two straight years. One amazing year and one year that took a toll on my soul. Then I let him go. Of course, the team I played against the first week had him in the line up.
Watching Justin Upton highlights the first week felt like staring at an ex’s Facebook page. She’s happy. She’s got that smile you knew she had but only showed you in glimpses. You shouldn’t look, but you do. You grab the nearest bottle of bourbon, throw on some Elliot Smith and keep looking.
You don’t need my help anymore
Its all now to you, there ain’t no before
Now that you’re big enough to run your own show
You’re just somebody that I used to know
(Yes, Elliot Smith wrote a song called “Somebody That I Used To know” too and it’s way better than that Gotye song)
I won the battle this week, but can I win the war? Upton’s line is currently insane (.407/.433/.1581 with 6 HR in 27 AB). Obviously not sustainable, but he’s always been one of those “if he could just put it together…” types of players. Well he’s in a new situation on a contender, he’s still only 25 and so far, he is putting it together. And I’m left to sit on the curb, head in hands, wondering what could have been.
Anyone who’s owned Justin Upton, they’ll tell you it’s like a tumultuous relationship: when it’s good you’re sipping champagne on the balcony, when it’s bad you’re dodging vases being thrown at your head.
In 2011 Upton was in the MVP conversation: .289/.369/.898. 6.1 WAR. When you owned him then you had “owner smugness.” You’d find ways to shoehorn the fact that you owned him into fantasy baseball conversations.
2012 not 2011. His WAR plummeted to 2.3 He took a hit in pretty much every statistical category. I made 4 trade offers including him, only to have owners guffaw and run to their computers to hit “reject trade,” leaving a cartoon style cloud of dust in their wake.
So I cut bait. When it was time to submit keepers, I let Justin Upton go. I took a few days to grow a beard, rearrange my room, throw out some sentimental items and get ready to move on. This was the right move, I told myself.
And then I saw his line. Yes it’s only the first week, but even the most savvy fantasy GMs sometimes have trouble thinking big picture; playing the long game if you will. ”Just gotta focus on my team and look forward,” I say to myself in the mirror every time I set my line up.
If you’ve never played fantasy sports you think this sounds ridiculous, I know. Those that have played can tell you we do it mostly because it’s fun and a good way to stay connected with your friends. But when you play poker against your friends, you don’t show up looking to lose. You want to have fun, but you’ll be damned if you’re going to lay up. You put your money down, and you aim to win.
Friendship and competition are a natural bond, forged through years of profanity laden video game battles and races to call “shotgun” when you see the car. Right now, my friend who owns Justin Upton is calling blitz and I’m watching it happen.
I’ll be okay. I like my fantasy team, I may do well again. However, the trials and tribulations of fantasy sports would cause even a monk to slam a lap top in disgust. I’m gonna keep checking on my phone, at least that has insurance on it.