Before you judge me too hard, let me begin my first post with I MADE A MISTAKE.
I caught baseball fever sometime last July. Having moved to Toronto four years ago, I was excited that I could go sit in the sun, drink beer and watch an affordable game that allowed time for me to be able to day dream and chat without missing too much of the action. One of my biggest baseball buddies, CJ was patient and quite supportive in answering all of my baseball related questions. I knew next to nothing (I admit I was that kid in little league that picked dandelions in the outfield) but increasingly I began to notice and appreciate the subtleties of baseball.
Fast forward to last season, CJ was still successfully grooming me to be a civilized Jays fan (We covered many topics from strategy and unspoken codes to Blue Jays history and of course, the meat and potatoes of the game, stats). I was loving it, attending more games than ever before, following blogs and feeling the contempt on facebook from non-baseball lovers over my obsessive status changes. The tipping point I believe was when I befriended a co-worker (Jason , creator of Relay to Home) . Now that I had TWO baseball mentors to nerd out with (especially one that I can’t escape 40 hours/week), it was game over.
When baseball ended last fall, I felt a noticeable void in my life. I really missed baseball. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there is a lot of interesting stuff that goes on offseason. After reading Moneyball and attending the first Getting Booked meeting, my mind was blown. Prior to this event, I didn’t even know what the draft was, let alone how a competitive baseball team is put together. It also helped that all the dudes at the book club were so enthusiastic and so knowledgeable on all things baseball. It got me excited in many ways. My initial introduction to sabermetrics /Jason’s persistence inspired me to join a fantasy baseball league. I was ready to release my inner Billy Beane.
This brings me to Lesson One: Why Jeter should never be your 6th round pick.
I was nervous about the draft. I had never paid much attention to other team’s players in previous seasons. It took a lot to get noticed by me if you weren’t sporting the Jays uniform. CJ gave me a copy of the 2011 Baseball Prospectus and I felt my stomach knot. How would I ever be able to make the right decisions for my team given the abundance of information and opinions floating around out there (and the lack thereof in my head)? I did exactly two mock drafts and was terrified by the 60 second time allowance. It seems like a lot of time but when it comes down to those middle rounds, I would get so lost as to who I need to get now and who will be there later.
Jason coached me; he told me to relax and focus on my position players first. No need to rush pitching. No need to worry too much about closers as they are only good for 1/12 stats. And over and over, he stressed that shortstop is shallow; if I can’t get the top two, don’t worry about it.
It’s the night of the draft. I am lying anxiously in bed. I have my prospectus out, a list of injured players ready to scan and a google window locked and loaded to quickly news search my boys for the latest headlines. Things are going pretty well until the 6th round… at the last second, everyone on my waiting list disappeared. I had to source out a new player in 60 seconds. I didn’t recognize anyone’s names at the top of the rankings. It was also convoluted with pitchers. This is where I committed the unthinkable. I fell victim to all the bullshit hype around Derek Jeter and thought “Well he will play every day and I need a SS….he couldn’t possibly be that bad! “I discounted all the negativity surrounding him as nothing more than Yankees hate. The final countdown sounded. I was stressed. I didn’t want to waste this pick. I made a wild last second dash at Jeter. The phone rings. It is Jason, calling to berate me and dump me as his protégée. This was followed by great harassment in the chat room. I defended my choice, like the noble, ever diplomatic GM that I aspire to be, saying “Oh he will get the job done. … It’s not THAT horrible of a pick.” Sigh, hindsight is 20-20.
Day 14 of the season. …I have already learned so much. I have a greater appreciation for what a crap shoot the draft is and what my decisions that night meant for my season. Has Jeter been fine? His 2011 stats thus far:
0.206 AVG, 4 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
The guy plays almost every day and that is all he can offer me! I USED A 6TH ROUND PICK ON THIS AGING PIECE OF CRAP!!! Plus not a day goes by where someone in the league doesn’t razz me about it. I have gone through the 5 stages of grief: Denial (he will be fine), Anger (I fucking hate you, Jeter), Bargaining (I tried to trade him to a supposed Yankees lover but even he wasn’t foolish enough to want this assnut.), Depression (I am the second worst team in the league) and now finally Acceptance. I have been told that fantasy baseball is all about patience. I am trying to move on from my mistake. I am taking Orlando Cabrera for a spin, while Jeter rides wood on my bench where he belongs. Lesson one, has been a painful one. I look forward to some therapeutic jeering on April 19th when I have to see his stupid face in the flesh.