I'm always both sad and relieved when this time of year rolls around: it's the end of fantasy baseball season. For the past several years I've been part of a very aggressively active and competitive 10-team league with the same group of people (composed of a cluster of friends and family members and friends of family members). It's always a lot of fun, and it's always a battle right to the end. Last year I missed the finals by literally one at-bat, it was that close.
Well, this year I got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, so I'll be taking my seat a bit earlier than I had hoped. Despite my mediocre finish, though, I am still riding the joy of one draft-day decision that has made me proud. In the fifth round; after he'd already been passed over in favor of fellow starting pitchers Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw, Ubaldo Jiminez, CC Sabathia, and David Price; I grabbed Justin Verlander. Today he collected his 24th win in my final day of play. That's sure a cool thing to see on your team.
Admittedly not all my choices panned out that well. Taking Hanley Ramirez in the first round was particularly disastrous, and I would even go so far as to blame the subsequent lack of a top-ten hitter on my team for my failure to advance in the postseason.
In any case, I beat my brother in our 5th-6th place consolation game, so at least I got to finish on a win, even if it was a meaningless one. And while a part of me is sad to see yet another season go by without claiming that ever-elusive championship, there is another part of me that is relieved. Multiple members of our league spend several hours every single day pouring over stats, digging through prospects, and concocting various ways to best their opponents. Thus, in order to be even reasonable competitive it is often necessary to devote quite a large amount of time and effort to the league. I enjoy it, but it does wear thin eventually. So this year, rather than complain about my lackluster finish, I'm going to sit back and enjoy my new-found freedom. That, and I might brag to everybody about how I snagged Justin Verlander in his soon-to-be Cy Young winning season after nine other pitchers had already been taken.