by Howard Bender
This is always a very interesting time of year for me, as well as for most fantasy addicts out there. The baseball season has a little more than a month to go and while some races to the finish line will come down to the last day, most final outcomes have been narrowed down to just a few teams in your league. Roto league standings, at this time of year, are often very difficult to move around in, and you already know who the monsters are going to be in your head to head playoff leagues. With that, it's very easy to let your baseball intelligence fall to the wayside as you start feeling the hype of the impending football season.
With NFL mini-camps starting in July, full camps and exhibition games throughout August, and the never-ending ESPN coverage of such important and historic events like Brett Favre's presence creating "a schism in the Vikings' locker room", it's very hard not to notice the season is almost upon us. Fantasy football commissioners are setting draft dates, protect lists need to be submitted, and the debates over Michael Turner or Adrian Peterson as the first overall pick are in full swing. A lot to think about? Definitely. Distracting from your current task of finishing the fantasy baseball season strongly? No doubt. Depending on your place in the standings, the approaching football season and its fantasy accompaniment can be both a blessing as well as a dangerous thing.
The bottom-feeders of your baseball league are already gone. They've completely abandoned their team and couldn't care less if Chris Davis is back in the bigs and starting at first for the Rangers right now. September call-ups? Pffffft! They don't care. They're more concerned over how many touches Matt Forte will get than they are concerned about how many starts Brandon Morrow can get in the final month of baseball. And that's ok. Just let them go.
For the most part, your baseball cellar-dwellars that have quit on the season...probably back in early June...aren't a major concern anyway. More often than not, these are the same people that will be done with the NFL after a 1-6 start and little or no hope to make the playoffs. They're the annual donators, and every league needs atleast one or two.
But their disappearance from baseball can become a huge advantage for you. Sure, the trade deadline has passed, so you have no one to rook anymore, but they're also gone from the waiver wire. No more watching some 10th place squad of losers scooping up a new arrival for no reason other than to screw with their friends in the league. Waiver priority is seriously trimmed down when there are only 4 or 5 teams making claims as opposed to 12 or even 15. The competition for a new player is less severe and can make your life a lot easier.
The difficulty that you are faced with is that while you might not have to worry about someone stealing a rookie out from under you, you now likely have dead teams in your league. Guys that are already lost in rushing yards and touchdown passes end up neglecting their baseball teams for atleast the final month and a half. They stop making roster moves and more often than not, have an active lineup that includes 2 or 3 guys on the DL and a pitcher or four that has been shut down for the year or even bumped from the rotation. Head to head leaguers watch helplessly as teams grab undeserving wins and get better seedings for the playoffs while roto leaguers watch their competition leapfrog the some of the dead teams in several categories.
This is all the more reason that you cannot abandon your baseball team in its most dire hour. You can't sit there and say, "hey, it's the last month of the season, nothing more I can do." I understand that 99% of fantasy baseballers are probably equally involved with fantasy football, but to push one aside in favor of the newer, fresher, hey I get to draft again fun feeling could be your ultimate demise.
Don't be the guy who forgets to make a waiver pick-up or a roster move because you were too worried about getting the 9th pick in your football draft. Don't miss the fact that one of your pitchers was scratched from a start and could end up shut down for the year because you couldn't make up your mind between Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub. And most importantly, don't be the guy who let a fantasy baseball championship slip through his fingers because you thought you already had it wrapped up and turned your focus to an entirely different game.
Finish the season. Finish it strongly. You didn't work this hard just to blow it now, did you?
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Howard Bender is a freelance fantasy sports writer and champion in both rotisserie and head to head leagues. For questions, thoughts or comments, you can email him at Howard.Rotobuzz@yahoo.com.