Thursday, April 2, 2009

Murphy's Laws of Fantasy Sports

I try, I really do. I try to take the trash out every Monday morning. I try to take the dog for a walk every day. I try to hit the gym regularly. But, more than anything, I try to stay positive. Whether I'm rooting for the Cubs in October, or I'm seeing the ace pitcher on my fantasy team go down with elbow discomfort, I try to put a positive spin on just about everything. Guess what, it doesn't always work. It actually almost never works. I've never seen the Cubs win in October, and my ace pitcher always goes on the DL. Eventually these types of insurmountable patterns emerge which can turn an otherwise positive person into an eternal pessimist. I think that's why some guy named Murphy created a law that basically states that "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." Maybe this Murphy was a fantasy-sports playing Cubs fan too.

Over the years, people have sort of put their own little twist on Murphy's Law so that now most people know it as a collection of laws. And I was reminded of some of them the other day while I was listening to my new favorite podcast, The Adam Carolla Podcast. That day, Adam and Kevin Nealon were relating Murphy's law to getting work in Hollywood, amongst other things. It was a funny bit, and if you haven't listened to the show, you should. It's definitely one of the better podcasts out there. Much better than any of the crappy fantasy baseball podcasts (Sorry, but it's true).

Anyway, Murphy's Law seems to translate absurdly well into the realm of fantasy. If you've been playing as long as I have, I'm sure that you can relate to these examples:

If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.
We've all had this happen. And by 'all' I mean me. You're cruising along in first place in June on the strength of Chase Utley, when all of a sudden Chase is no longer that Utley anymore. He's got a bum hip, but it's not bad enough to go on the DL, it's merely bad enough to sap all of his power and speed for the second half of the season. And you are left to utter, over and over, "I could replace anyone else, but Utley is irreplaceable. I'm so screwed." Yes, yes you are. And the worst part is watching Chaser suddenly be good again in the playoffs, long after you've finished out of the money.

Enough research will tend to support your theory.
Do you ever wonder why certain players get hyped at the beginning of every baseball season and then never become even remotely fantasy relevant? Last year it was Chase Headley, Phil Hughes, Delmon Young, and Erik Bedard among others. Well, the reason this happens is because anyone can look at historical statistics and try to project a player's value, but realistically, nobody really knows anything. But, if you show enough research to support your theory, people will believe. So, who do I think are this years crop of Headley's? I'll name four guys for no apparent statistical reason: Alexei Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Weiters, and Joey Votto. They are all being overhyped, but nobody can possibly know for sure that they will be even top ten in their postion this year.

If your advance is going well, you are walking into an ambush.
This one is fairly obvious, and yet it happens all of the time. The guy in your league who never, ever ends up winning the league is inevitably in first place at the end of May, and he's loving every minute of it. The message board has basically become his personal whipping post, and nobody is safe from the smack. What this guy is failing to notice, though, is that while he is cruising along with players having awesome first halfs, everyone else is loading up on players who are just starting to get hot. He won't even know what hit him until the end of July, when he is already down to fourth place on his way to another middle of the pack finish.

An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
All I will say about this is that I don't refer to myself as an expert, and I hope I never do. I actually think that the term fantasy sports expert might be the greatest oxymoron ever. What do they know? Baseball? Football? Fantasy scoring systems? Maybe, but aside from the fact that they get to sit in front of a computer doing research all day while the rest of us are working, they don't actually know anything. They don't know any more about sports than any other avid sports fan, and yet these same avid sports fans are constantly asking them for advice. I wouldn't even mind that, but rarely are they even entertaining or interesting. And they all seem to be spewing out the same ideas over and over again. The best fanatsy analysts are funny, don't take themselves too seriously, and appreciate how great their jobs are. When I listen/read/watch a good fantasy expert, I feel like he could be a guy that I may actually be in a league with who is trying to make idiotic predictions, but in a joking way.

All hail Murphy's Law! There are more, many more, and I may throw them in at the end of some of my posts throughout the season. But for now I will leave you with this one as a bit of advice for your upcoming season:

You can never tell which way the train went by looking at the track.
As a fantasy owner, you have to constantly be trying to stay ahead of the train. The train, of course, being the neverending pool of players that you could either pick up or trade for. If you can somehow manage to get players onto your team as they are beginning a hot streak as opposed to when they are just coming off of one, you will always do well. Well enough to win your league? I'd say sure. Why not? You also have to draft well, but by this point with two days left until opening day (woo hoo!), you've more than likely already drafted, and you gotta work with what you got.

By the way, did everyone else see the Cubs/Yanks game at the new Stadium? How awesome is that place?

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