Despite the fact that I know better, my fantasy baseball scoreboard watching starts with the first pitch of each season, and hangs heavily with me till the last pitch of the same year. That is, if I still have a team in the thick of things, which I usually do one way or another.
This is not so much a factor of how many teams I play, for all things considered, I don't overdo it. This year I have an American League Tout Wars Team, a National League League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) team, along with an XFL mixed squad. I am also playing in a slow-draft 15-team NFBC draft-and-follow mixed league, while Todd Zola and I are co-managing a Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) mixed team.
In addition I have a Scoresheet team and a Strat-O-Matic team - both simulation leagues with head-to-head play - and that is it.
Luebke was roughed up
What is odd is that I pay very little attention to spring numbers (though I do watch players to see what they can do, and how they look at bat, in the field, or on the hill). Furthermore, after a draft, I am always nervous when a team of mine projects well in the pre-season standings, for that always seems to be the kiss of death.
In fact, I even note that in general my teams perform much better over the course of the season when they start slow. For example, both years I won Tout Wars my teams languished in last place over the first month or so, while last year my LABR team seemed to have an unbeatable lead of 20 points through May.
The Tout teams won, as noted, while my LABR team labored to finish sixth when the final out was recorded.
Generally, I think starting slow makes us more aware of looking not just at our rosters, but at the free agent possibilities as well, as we are willing to make some moves to try and ensure some solid steady play down the road.
However, when "blessed" with a leading team, it is hard to fix or change something that is not broken; hence it is easy to get complacent. And, when an owner gets complacent, that spells trouble for his or her team.
Even so, I cannot resist constantly hitting refresh and perusing the box scores for all my players of all my leagues from the jump. And, even though I know enough to relax when my teams do start slow, nothing is more reassuring to me than seeing my squad at or near the top of every set of standings around.
I do think over the course of a fantasy season each owner can afford to make four or five mistakes and still be successful.
Sometimes a mistake entails leaving $10 on the auction table, and sometimes a mistake means grabbing Ben Revere over Jose Tabata (a goof I made in this year's NFBC slow draft, thinking Tabata would still be there a few picks later).
Sometimes the mistake is paying too much for a useless FAAB player, and sometimes it means not paying enough for a guy who could give you everyday production.
And, sometimes simply enduring a horrible week of statistics counts as a mistake.
So, starting the season with an awful set of stats, despite drafting well and playing the FAAB line well, can put one at a serious disadvantage. For, squandering those mistakes early in a game that lasts so long makes the whole marathon brutal, leaving no more margin for error.
Well, this weekend I watched Jose Valverde and Tony Sipp blow up in extra innings, while Joshes Collmenter and Beckett, along with Cory Luebke and even Matt Cain, got knocked all over the place, which pretty much relegated my first week to the mistake column.
And, no amount of scoreboard staring and encouragement seems to help.
Though it might not seem to Zen to compulsively track your teams, I do believe it sends your players energy and helps them over the long run. In theory that scoreboard watching (well, it is really staring) also helps mitigate some of those mistake weeks.
At least that is what I tell myself.
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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.