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“Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.” – Jack King, “Confessions of a Winning Poker Player”
We’ve all been there…
Everyone who steps into the realm of fantasy sports brings with them determination and a desire to win. At the end of the day we must all remember that it is just a game. However, the most important aspect of any game is the simple fact that there must be a winner and a loser. And of course, nobody wants to be the loser.
The opening quote above is true in many senses. You can play years of fantasy sports and win countless times. I know that in my head-to-head leagues that I just brush off wins like they are nothing becasue a season lasts so long. Yet when I lose, it is burned into my mind for ages. That’s not to say that I don’t recall great victories from my time. I know I am not alone out there when it comes to sharing these stories with your friends. These tales have become great conversation pieces. Hell, you can forget to take the garbage out but, you never forget how important the loss during Week 13 of your fantasy football league was to your team.
So how does one deal with loss? In my own personal experience and observation of others who have experienced pain and suffering, it seems that complaining is the most common form of therapy. You can’t change history but you sure can whine about it. The only time you remember a huge win is if it is a championship game. Other than that, a win is just not important enough to remember. What we all have in common is that we are human beings and nobody is immune to heartbreaking losses.
So, what I would like to do is share with all of you three important stories from my fantasy career. I have thrown together a mixture of wins and losses for your pleasure just to give you a glimpse into the human soul that is me. Without further delay, here we go.
In Week 14, I faced off against fellow SoB writer Jeff. After all of Sunday’s games were done, I was beating our beloved Patriots contributer by about 20 pts. The only hurdle I had to concern myself with was that Jeff had one WR going on Monday night. I was not concerned that much. I mean, Jeff needed at least 20 points from one guy just to catch up to me. That one guy he had going for him was Tennessee Titans WR Drew Bennett.
In Week 13, Bennett had a great game with 124 yds and 3 TD. Those 124 yds were a season high and those 3 TD’s more than doubled his season total. Now in Week 14, there was good news: Bennett had not duplicated his Week 13 performance. The bad news was that he blew it out of the water. Drew Bennett had the best week of any WR of the 2004 season. He had 12 catches for 233 yds and 3 TD. (For reasons I can’t recall, I didn’t watch the game. It is a good thing I didn’t or else I would have been throwing stuff around the dorm room. I awoke Monday morning to utter shock and disbeleif.) Bennett had given Jeff a total of 35 points and I lost the matchup by a score of 135-120. Never underestimate the power of a Billy Volek/Drew Bennett combination.
Fantasy Baseball Championship
I had finally reached the big show in fantasy baseball. In 2005, I had missed the playoffs by 2.5 games and was poised to redeem myself. This league is head-to-head and is 12×12 (yes, we are a bit excessive). I was in the championship against a man named Josh. Josh had finished first in the regular season and had breezed through the playoffs. Our two-week championship showdown was a dead heat.
Days went by and we were neck and neck. In that league, we counted complete games as a stat. So, I struck first blood in that category when Brett Myers got me a complete game within the first few days of the matchup. Keep that in mind for later.
So, during the matchup, both of our pitching staffs become quite bad overall and we both began to stream pitchers. The race was on for a league champ. When people tell these kind of stories, you expect a little bullcrap here and there and always a huge lie about how it all came down to the last day. Well, I can honestly say that this was the case…
The championship came down to the last day. Most of the categories were decided by a large margin and my opponent and I were locked in a tie. Yes, in a 12×12 league, we were tied at 11-11-2. One of these categories was complete games. Yes, my opponent had gotten a cheap complete game by Rich Hill after the Cubs game was called after 5 innings (thus a 5-inning CG).
I had a ray of light though. In my streaming, I had picked up Milwaukee starter Carlos Villanueva. In the last day of the matchup, Carlos had pitched brilliantly against the Cardinals and was sent out to do the 9th inning. As I watched the box score referesh over and over, I got the shakes and the shivers. I was 3 outs away from taking a category and breaking the tie. Carlos retired the first batter. Then, he hit a wall. Villanueva allowed back-to-back home runs to Chris Duncan and Albert Pujols. I cringed and then he was pulled from the game. I was two outs away and he got pulled. The day’s games ended and were still tied at 11-11-2. I have never known a situation like this and just figured I would share a league title. Monday morning comes and I find out that I have lost and come in 2nd place!
Apparently Yahoo’s tiebreaker is ERA and I had lost ERA that day thanks to Brandon Webb. Yes, the same Brandon Webb who won the Cy Young in 2006. Webb pitched that Sunday and gave up 7 ER in 4 IP. I lost a championship on a tie, that would crush my spirits until the next year when I made it back to the championship and won. There was no tie.
Fantasy Football Championship
Lets end on a high note. I was devastated by my loss in baseball. Winning a football championship became my goal. The story of this matchup has been passed around for years and trying to put into new, freshly-written words won’t do it justice. So, here is the exact speech I wrote after I secured victory against SoB’s KC. The only things changed are spelling errors and dirty language. Enjoy!
Well, Well, Well
This is the 3rd Championship Game I have made it into since we started these expert leagues.
But now after 2 defeats in championship games, I have emerged victorious.
Much love goes out to KC who put up a hell of a fight. But what might have been Kenneth, what might have been. If only you had started Philip Rivers.
But folks, like any good victory, there is a good story. Here is mine.
Believing Alex Smith to get me no points for my team, I searched free agency for a backup QB that would start on sunday. Hello Ken Dorsey. The former Miami standout was staring right at me. I had 2 sources that definitely said that Dorsey would start Sunday. So, I put him in on Sunday morning.
Next issue: WR. I knew I was starting Anquan Boldin. With Santana Moss’s 104 yds and a TD on Thursday night, I just needed one more WR. Again, looking at my free agents, I knew I had very little. So, I opted to pick up Santonio Holmes only due to the fact that he has the most yards out of any of the free agents. Also, he has been good lately, and he is a punt returner (so maybe I could get lucky with a punt return for a TD). After addressing those issues, I was set, all I had to do was pray.
12/31/06: Championship Day
Like any other Sunday in the life of a fantasy football player, I sat down to watch my team’s game and at the same time, watch as the stats went by on the bottom of the screen on CBS. Anxious doesnt describe the feeling. Just watching the scores go by seemed to take forever.
Then, a shock to my system. Watching the Houston Texans score go by, I saw that Ron Dayne wasnt playing. One of my starters, in a championship game, was out. Well, there is ZERO points right there. As more scores scrolled by, another shock to my system. Ken Dorsey wasnt playing either! Charlie Frye, who was a game time/last minute decision who was doubtful to play at all, was STARTING AND PLAYING THE ENTIRE GAME!!!!! Now, in a championship game, I now had TWO guys out and getting me ZERO points. Needless to say, I was pissed.
Lets add to the fire shall we:
Half time highlights came. Roy Williams, of KC’s team, already had 2 TD’s before half time. Also, Steve Smith already had a TD as well.
At this point I am pissed. Then I see the Steelers are putting up no offense and thier leading receiver, Hines Ward, had only about 34 yds at the half. Which means Santonio Holmes had less and meant I was getting no production from that WR spot.
So lets sum it up: I have 3 spots getting me NOTHING in a championship game and KC was getting huge points from only 2 of his players. At this point, I gave up hope. Pissed off and full of no hope for a championship trophy, I went to my room, and took an angry nap.
As dinner time rolled around at about 530ish, I sat down to enjoy my pasta dinner and watched another game. I also flipped to one of many ESPN channels to check the scores. I now saw that Philip Rivers had 2 TD’s and Carson Palmer had a good game. I didnt care at this pont, at least I’d be getting blown out and it would be a decisive victory.
Then, a surpirse. Santonio Holmes, who had done nothing in the first half had actually amassed 124 yds which included a 67 yd TD catch in overtime to win the game. I thought nothing of this. It was nice to see my guys putting up a fight, but I knew it wouldnt help. Steve Smith’s 85 yds and 2 TD’s and Roy Williams’s 104 yds and 2 TD’s told me that my day was over already.
So, I went to the computer to check the league and the box scores.
Then, another surprise. Checking over KC’s team, I saw that he had becnhed Philip Rivers. HE BENCHED PHILIP RIVERS!!!!! In his place he had put Jeff Garcia. Ordinarilly this would still scare me BUT, checking the Philadelphia box score brought shock. Garcia has played only one series and then sat down for the rest of the game. If that wasnt enough, KC’s RB Brian Westbrook also played only one series and then sat for the game. Now, I am getting the feeling of “Wow, this may actually be closer than I thought”. So I decided to look and see how all of KC’s players did.
Maurice Jones-Drew, who has been unstoppable, only had 46 rush yards and a TD. Also, KC’s boy Marques Colston had no yards at all. NO YARDS AT ALL!!!
So, lets recap, KC now had 3 guys who got him practically nothing (SOUND FAMILIAR?????)
Combine this with the fact that my Carolina defense got me 5 sacks, a pick, a fumble recovery and a TD and now I think I have a chance.
I did get scared when Vick left the game in the 3rd quarter and didnt return. I was counting on him to get me clutch points. But, I had other guys to lean on.
For the rest of the day, Anquan Boldin got 122 yds, Edge got 66 yds and a TD, and Crumpler got 64 yds and a TD.
I felt pretty good and also pretty nervous. The rest of the games went on. When night time fell, KC had nobody else going and I had Robbie Gould, PK of the Chicago Bears. Not knowing the score was due to not having Stat Tracker, I went out and celebrated New Years with fellow Fantasy stud Dan. As we were driving to our destination, KC texted me. I called him back and asked what the heck he wanted. He informed me that heading into the night’s game, I was up by 3.
Lets sum that up. KC has nobody else going and I have my kicker going and I am already up by 3.
OF course, nothing is guaranteed in fantasy football. KC knows better than anyone that Yahoo can change the scores overnight. So, I knew my victory was not secured yet. So, Dan and I sat at the bar and watched the Bears-Packers game.
I just wanted some insurance from Gould though, that would make this celebration easier. But with Grossman and Griese turning the ball over 6 times, I was sweating a bit. Then, a small light at the end of the tunnell. Griese throws a TD pass and Gould got the extra point. So now I had some insurance. Thats all Gould would get though, and I had to settle with my one point. Now, I just had to wait til the next morning to see the official results.
128.64 to 121.30
I am victorious!!!!!!!!!!
Not my best performance but baby, I will definately take it.
So that is the story behind my championship game, hope you all enjoyed it. This experience has taught me one thing: I look like a genius for picking up Santonio Holmes.
Three stories: two heartbreaking…one inspirational. I encourage all readers to share their stories and experiences so that we all may learn from past defeats and glory. Remember, one man’s loss is another man’s victory story. So you better get used to reliving it over and over again. God knows I have.