I’ve been playing fantasy baseball since 2000, starting later in life than do many people who play. I’d had some interest in it, in fact was intrigued by the idea, but had never ventured into it. Until the year several folks at my workplace decided to start up a league of coworkers. I jumped into it, and have greatly enjoyed it ever since.
Since then I’ve played in a variety of leagues: One-year leagues, continuing leagues with keeper players. Leagues with friends, leagues will all strangers. Draft leagues, auction leagues. Standard-settings leagues, kind-of-odd leagues. Rotisserie leagues, Scoresheet leagues. That first year, it was just the one league; ever since, it’s been multiple leagues every year. I’ve started four continuing leagues that are still going well. The past two years I’ve been in eight leagues.
So 2011 was my twelfth year. In each and every one of the first 11 years, from my very first venture into fantasy baseball, I’ve won at least one my leagues, sometimes as many as four in a season. Until this year.
Now I am a fantasy failure.
Sure, I finished in second place in one league, and made the playoffs in two of my three Scoresheet leagues. But I have a gene — recessive, but there — that tells me I should win. (I even passed it on to one or both of my kids.) But no, zero, none, nada, zilch first places this year.
Failure. Failure. Failure.
Okay, I don’t really believe that. At all. I am glad when other people win in my leagues, and it’s especially fun when someone wins who never has before. That’s pretty awesome.
But it was still a mildly shocking revelation. Not one winner. You’d think that with eight teams, one might win. I could make some excuses (work busyness, our first grandchild, my non-playoff Scoresheet team with 18 players who went on the DL) and I did not put as much time into managing the teams as I have in some years. It just didn’t happen this year.
Now, I’m not a glass-half-full person. I’m more a glass-57%-full* guy. So I believe that I will do better next year. I will be winning multiple leagues. I can’t wait for things to start!
But for me, much of the fun of playing fantasy baseball is the process, the journey. And, like in real baseball, success often takes several seasons to realize. That’s why I enjoy keeper leagues and leagues with slots for minor league players. I know when I’ve reached the notlikelytochallenge point and start to work to improving my team for the future. I enjoy that part of fantasy baseball very much and it’s a great way to channel my fantasy juices when I know I’m not going to win.
Failure schmailure. Yes, the one who gets the most points or wins the playoffs is the champion. And whether by good management or sheer luck, they deserve the congratulations. But there are more ways to “win” than to finish first. There are wins of spirit, of good sportsmanship, of perseverance, in long-range development. I believe in the importance of process. I believe we need to enjoy the journey — whether it’s fantasy sports or in the real world — because at point B or point O or point X along the way there is probably only one winner. Kudos to those champs, but also to the winners who don’t give up, who keep playing, who work for the future.**
From my lefty perspective, in “failure” there is opportunity. April 4 won’t come quickly enough!
* I was tempted to use 53 or 59, because it would be cool to use a prime number. But in all honesty, I’m really just pretty much a 57-percent-full guy.
** And kudos to those who don’t let playing fantasy sports, or even real sports, get out of perspective. There are real issues, real struggles, real illnesses, real problems in our local communities and around the world that remind us that this is entertainment or diversion or play, in fact it is a luxury. It is not important, when at the same time people are beset by hunger, illness, disasters, war, injustice. Some days the world is a damn sobering place.