I am having a pretty good year so far in the League of Alternative Baseball Reality, better known as LABR, USA Today's experts competition.
And that makes me very nervous.
If you are like me, you know that after a month, our teams are really starting to gel, and the numbers are beginning to stabilize, which is good.
You also know that for the first bunch of weeks, standings are more volatile than the price of a barrel of gasoline these days, and you can be in first place to start the day, drop to eighth halfway through a day's worth of games, and then finish the daily cycle first, or last, or who knows where in between.
Matusz: part of 2nd-half surge
Furthermore, we all know that being in first, or last, or in the middle this time of year means nothing, although it is fun to see your team atop the standings, just as it is horrifying to find your squad at the bottom.
Well, in LABR, for the better part of the last two weeks, KFFL's Nicholas Minnix, BaseballHQ's Dave Adler, and I have been playing leapfrog with one another atop the league food chain.
And, during that period, my squad was holding its own with our closer, Andrew Bailey, on the shelf. I did trade Andruw Jones for Fernando Rodney - a day before he lost his job - and then dealt Ervin Santana for Jordan Walden to fill the void, but my timing for saves has been terrible.
First, Rodney collected his second save the day before he hit my roster, and during the drought, Brad Ziegler was on my bench when he picked up a conversion earlier in the week.
But, finally, on Friday, Walden notched his first save for me, and Sunday a second, and suddenly I had three points in the category that had been a goose egg. Even better, the next three teams above me are tied at five saves each, and Mr. Bailey is due back shortly, meaning there are even a few more points within my grasp.
At present we have an 11 point lead over my bud Nick, and 12 over Dave, and I must confess my team looks strong with 91 points at present, and more in reach.
So why am I worried?
Because there is always a team that dominates early in the season, and most of the times those teams tail off after the break. For, baseball - on the field or in your head - is a streaky game, and the team that is hot at the right time becomes the champ as often as not.
Not that teams don't run the table, like Jason Grey pretty much did in AL Tout last year.
But, I feel safer with a team like my Tout squad of this year, running about 15 points back, between fifth and eighth place, but with Josh Hamilton, Jake Peavy, and Brian Matusz all on the DL. For provided they return, and play like they can, all three should be hot in August, when I will need it most.
But being ahead like this now is strange and uncomfortable territory, the worst part being what do I do with my team?
Logic suggests do nothing: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" goes the maxim.
But I find being too passive with a team like this can be deadly, but so can over-managing. Of course it is easy to be passive if your players are generally performing well, and are healthy, as there is no reason to replace or juggle. But, it can also be easy to get caught "flat-footed," as I think of it. That is to suddenly have several players go very cold, and the best of the early season reserves have been plucked away, and your team is suddenly an elevator at the top floor with a newly snapped cable.
So, what I am trying to do is judiciously look at the free agent pickings each week, and do what I can to build up as much bench and reserves as I can. Now, that might seem rhetorical, but in the past I have found when I have a strong team, I do tend to leave it alone.
I am also trying to stay open to trading, or shuffling players around. For trading parts of a productive team seems counterintuitive.
So being open and proactive is the way I am going because in the past, when I have let my early leading teams do their thing, they have died.
Not so this time.
Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.