The pains of fan­tasy base­ball

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer To the Point Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter and pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He’s yet to win a fan­tasy base­ball ti­tle, but this year will be dif­fer­ent, he swears. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­

The signs of spring are fi­nally here. The birds chirp­ing, plenty of peo­ple shed­ding their win­ter clothes and plenty more are hit­ting the pave­ment with a re­newed sense of vigor to­wards ex­er­cis­ing.

Those signs also mean the re­turn of base­ball, sun­flower seeds and the Toronto Blue Jays who are look­ing to build off an ex­cep­tional 2015 cam­paign. All of those are great things for sure.

But, there is some­thing just as ex­cit­ing that comes with the rapidly im­prov­ing weather. That’s the start of fan­tasy base­ball sea­son. The time when us reg­u­lar fans get to put on our gen­eral man­ager hats and build what we be­lieve to be a pretty good big league fran­chise.

Through a draft sys­tem that can be painful, es­pe­cially when that one player you want to so­lid­ify your in­field gets snapped up the pick be­fore your se­lec­tion, th­ese would-be gen­eral man­agers try to as­sem­ble the best team they can.

De­pend­ing on the league, you could have to fill the reg­u­lar start­ing nine, plus a util­ity slot or two and two bench play­ers. That doesn’t in­clude the pitch­ing staff and re­lief pitch­ers.

You need to make sure you have enough power, guys who hit for av­er­age, have a solid earned runs av­er­age or strikes guys out. Oh, you need speed. If you miss the stolen base stat, you’re doomed. I’ve done that. Trust me, it isn’t fun.

There are a cou­ple of facts about fan­tasy base­ball. There are no al­le­giances in fan­tasy base­ball. You can’t stock a team with play­ers from your favourite team. You’re go­ing to lose. Well, you might lose. If your team has a year like the Jays or Roy­als had last year, you have a shot at walk­ing away with the whole thing. How­ever, that’s not the point. Why set­tle for a medi­ocre fan­tasy sec­ond base­man when you could po­ten­tially get a Robin­son Cano or a Dustin Pe­droia?

The best player for your team might be from a ri­val team in the real world. But in fake base­ball, you need to step out­side your al­le­giances.

It can be tough to se­lect a New York Yan­kee if you’re a Jays fan. You’re go­ing to get over your fan­dom if you want to win.

The other im­por­tant fact to re­mem­ber is that it’s a painful ex­er­cise that prob­a­bly only nets you brag­ging rights with your friends. For months, you wage a war with your­self as you try to set your daily line­ups. The goal is to earn as many points as pos­si­ble through hits, home runs, runs bat­ted in and other sta­tis­ti­cal cat­e­gories.

That may go against what your gut is telling you.

Pete Rose help you if you get at­tached to a player who is hav­ing de­cent sea­son. That just makes it harder to re­move him or drop him if you get a trade of­fer for a bet­ter player.

Base­ball is a sport where medi­ocre play­ers can have a hot start be­fore fall­ing to the way­side as the truly great play­ers find their grooves.

You have to be on top of this. You can be left kick­ing your­self if you don’t jump on one of them at the start of the sea­son. Build­ing a quick lead in your league is im­por­tant. Ev­ery at-bat counts.

Fan­tasy base­ball can con­trol your life. If you for­get to set your line­ups, that can bring down your mood for the rest of your day. Fan­tasy base­ball is painful, but it can be so sweet when you win.

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