Wednesday, February 20, 2013

If this is fantasy, get me reality quick

I like the 1995 set a lot. But I think the reason I have never committed to collecting it is it because it holds too many bad memories.

Yeah, there was the strike the year before, but it's more than that.

There was my fantasy league team.

I have mentioned several times how lousy I was at fantasy league baseball. Every year at this time, I get solicited by folks online and off to join a fantasy league. And every year I ignore or decline.

It's all because of how terrible I was participating in a fantasy league during the mid-1990s.

I played in a league between 1993-95 (yes, we had the great misfortune of playing a fantasy league the 1994 strike). If I remember correctly, I was pretty good at drafting pitchers, but awful at drafting position players. Then my pitchers would go on the DL and my team would be stupid in everything. I'd lose interest about two months into the season and my fellow players would pick the remnants off my dead team's carcass for a handful of scrub prospects. I was basically the Miami Marlins of our league.

My desire for a long time has been to dig out one of the old progress sheets that we'd receive once a week (this was before online activity folks) in an exercise of self-flagellation. I know I have one somewhere and I could show you what a pathetic team I had. But I can't seem to find it.

Then I realized that all I have to do is turn to my incomplete 1995 Topps set to present the damage.

Eric Anthony is exhibit A.

My drafting sensibilities were so keen that I selected Anthony about five years after he was a prime prospect. By 1995, he had sunk to part-timer player status and was on his way down. But first he had to play for my team before I realized that.

Like any "keeper league," the objective in our league was to try to find some young talent that you could hold on to year after year. I was horrible at finding the right players (probably explains why I'm not interested in collecting prospects).

Midre Cummings was the perfect example of my incompetence here. He lasted all the way until 2005 (I was shocked when I just looked up his stats), but he was never a full-time player. And he didn't do squat for my team.

I liked Pirates for some odd reason.

OK, it wasn't that odd. These were the years immediately after the Pirates made regular trips to the NLCS. But Bonds and Bonilla were gone and Pittsburgh was sliding in the standings. Yet, I clung to Carlos Garcia and Al Martin so much that I protected both players for at least a couple of years. I was convinced that Martin was not going to let me down.

Suddenly Ned Colletti doesn't seem like that big of an idiot.

Devo was another player who appeared on my team year after year. He also explains why I was among the league's leaders in stolen bases every year.

I think White, Larry Walker and Dante Bichette played more games for my teams than anybody else. All pretty good players. But not good enough to pull me out of the basement.

Each team featured a couple of utility players. I thought selecting Craig Shipley would help. If only there was a category for being Australian. I would've led the league in Australian-born players. Or at least tied with whoever had Dave Nilsson on their team.

More prospecting genius. You can't read the name because the foil on '95 Topps is probably its biggest drawback. But that's Orlando Miller. Topps says he was on the "Star Track," and I apparently believed it. Miller had an OK season in 1996 during his four-year major league career, but I was done with the fantasy game by then.

In 1996, I said count me out. And Miller said, "OK, I can play well now."

But I had finally realized, after filling my team with Pirates, Mariners, Astros and Padres, that this fantasy stuff wasn't for me.

So all of you fantasy geeks enjoy your draft days. I'm sure you have the date circled on the calendar.

Meanwhile, I'll be rooting the traditional way.

And searching for the sheet with my fantasy team roster. I know I've got it somewhere ...

Is it true I had Kevin Ritz on my team? Yeah, Ritz was actually on my team, too.

God, what was I doing?


  1. I see why you stopped playing! Ha. I know people who root for their fantasy players over their real team...crazy.

  2. The way most people play fantasy baseball these days pretty much guarantees that you'd have to be trying to lose on purpose to end up with Midre Cummings. I'm sure you'd do alright. You don't even have to show up to the drafts and you'll end up with a team better than these mid-'90s flim-flam. Of course, if you auto-draft, you'll end up with Alfonso Soriano. And you'll hate yourself.

  3. I enjoy fantasy baseball. But it's always been easy for my generation.

    I also enjoy holding Nebulous Nine numbers 1 and 6 hostage.

    Your move.

  4. My assistant principal just invited me to play. It'll be the first time I attempt fantasy baseball... after years and years of fantasy football. I'm not expecting much, since I have zero strategy other than to draft the best person available and hope none of my key players gets injured.

  5. 2013 will be the first season in a long time where I won't have a fantasy team. I tried it last year, but I lost interest about a quarter of the way through.

    I guess I just like rooting in the "traditional way", as you said.

  6. I played for the first (and only!) time last season. I wish I'd known Chris Carpenter and Chase Utley were disabled before I drafted. With all that I managed to finish mid-pack and led the league in transactions! I was working it.

    But it was like a full time job. I found myself at summer football drills wondering if damn Carlos Santana was worth keeping. (He wasn't but I did)

  7. I don't think I could ever play fantasy baseball. Something about rooting for opposing players to do well against the Red Sox...although it seemed any player did well against them last year.

  8. I pulled the most amazing Midre Cummings cards out of packs in '95. Really rare stuff, too, like Artist Proofs and crazy inserts. I wish he had panned out just so they would be worth something to somebody now.

  9. I was 10 in 95 and I remember liking the cards but I also felt they were kind of cheesy. I was also collecting basketball too and it felt like Topps was trying to catch up with Fleer and Upper Decks designs.

  10. Fantasy sports is a fun hobby of mine. I play in baseball, football, hockey and even a basketball league. My friends and I are scattered about the country for the most part and this helps us keep in touch. It also helps us win/lose money, talk trash and send threatening text messages to each other on a near weekly basis.

  11. I enjoy playing fantasy baseball, I have been in a keeper league for more than a decade. I used to be a lot better, actually won a couple championships. I knew how to dig deep for prospects and up and coming players better than anyone but it has gotten so easy for everyone these days, I lost my competitive advantage.