Monday, October 4, 2010

My Baseball Fantasy: Triumph

I won! It was close, though. I beat the runner-up by just two points. So, I'll finally get a trophy icon on my Yahoo! fantasy profile.

My Stalwarts

I finished the year with just nine of my 23 original draft picks: Matt Kemp (OF), Ryan Zimmerman (3B), Brian McCann (C), Shin-Soo Choo (OF), Dan Haren (SP), Josh Hamilton (OF), Heath Bell (RP), Rickie Weeks (2B) and Billy Wagner (RP). All but Haren and Wagner have been featured as either my player of the week, my player of the month or both. Haren had a disappointing year but the fact that I haven't acknowledged Wagner before this is shocking. He was the best reliever in fantasy baseball this year: 7 wins, 37 saves, 104 strikeouts, a 1.43 ERA and an 0.87 WHIP.


Photo via News Around the Globe

Player: Josh Hamilton
Position: Left Fielder/Center Fielder
Team: Texas Rangers
Stats for the Year: 32 home runs, 100 RBI, 95 runs, 8 stolen bases and a .359 batting average

Hamilton probably lost his shot at the American League MVP award by missing most of September due to injury. But then again, maybe not. He still won the league batting title and is the first batting champion to also record at least 30 homers and 100 RBI since Manny Ramirez in 2002. Plus, he's an outstanding fielder and the Rangers probably wouldn't have won their division without him. I certainly wouldn't have won the fantasy league without him so he deserves major kudos here.

Before this year, Hamilton was famous for all of the wrong reasons. The first overall draft pick in the 1999 draft, Hamilton has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for years. He has suffered through suspensions, rehabs and relapses and was out of the sport entirely for three seasons. With all of the attention paid to steroids over the past few years, it's easy to forget that baseball still struggles with broader substance abuse issues. Perhaps the cocaine troubles are not what they were in the '70s and '80s but cases such as Hamilton's serve as a reminder that there are great perils in the life of a star athlete: pressure, expectations, attention and far too much money at far too young an age. Even with all of the cautionary tales - Len Bias, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, etc. - too many young people fall prey to addiction.

There is, of course, a very big difference between addiction and abuse. Abuse is a choice. But addiction is a disease and should be acknowledged as such. Cocaine is the headline grabber but alcohol and nicotine are far and away the most prevalent drug addictions in the United States. Alcoholism has always been a part of sports - for fans and athletes alike. It is a problem which will always haunt Hamilton. All of the press regarding the Rangers' post-game celebration of their division title focused on Hamilton's self-imposed absence due to his addiction. Most praised him for his responsible choice and that is as it should be.

None of this should diminish Hamilton's accomplishments on the field. Indeed, the fact that he has managed to come back and be a productive player and also be open and honest about his personal struggle is all to the good. The sports world, indeed the world at large, is filled with stories of those who never made it back.

Thoughts for Next Year

I thoroughly enjoyed the season. However, as much as I like the Rotisserie format, the consensus in the league seems to be that a head-to-head set up would be preferred in the future. To me, planning week to week as opposed to day to day seems a little contrived for baseball. But then, what aspect of fantasy sports is NOT completely contrived? Furthermore, I think it is probably a more sociable set up and also helps keep everyone engaged through the whole season. Also, a head-to-head league allows for playoffs at the end of the season. Realism isn't really the point. Everyone enjoying the league is far more important. So, I expect we'll make the switch.

For the record, that's two changes to remember for next time:
- no league review for trades
- head-to-head format

1 comment:

  1. I realize I never REALLY said congrats, so "Congrats!"

    Great job as commish and a nice solid win....