I forgot to mention in my last post that I do have another goal for 2009. And the goal is to pay much better attention to baseball this year than I did last year. I got very distracted by all the ups and downs of the presidential election, and I sort of neglected my favorite sport. I mean, I still followed baseball. Just not as fanatically as I usually do. But this year, that’s going to change!
Last year was also an aberration for me because it marked the first year in about eight or nine years that I didn’t have my own fantasy baseball team to manage. I hope to rectify that this year. See, when I met my husband David a decade ago, I learned that baseball was one of the great enduring loves of his life. As someone who remembered the joy and the ultimate crushing end of the Atlanta Braves’ 1991 season, I was delighted. Then he introduced me to one of the other great loves in his life: fantasy baseball. Soon thereafter, I got hooked, too.
It makes sense, if you think about it. As a former newspaper reporter, my job was to obsessively monitor my beats and look for story ideas and new angles to take an old ideas. I combed public records, called sources, scanned relevant websites, and lurked around schools and city halls, etc., all in the pursuit of making sure I was up on the very latest. When you manage a fantasy baseball team, you’re more or less using the same skills. You’re just applying them to the latest publications, blogs and reports about baseball instead of high school exit exam statistics or adequate yearly progress reports.
But for some reason, we couldn’t get our usual fantasy league organized last year, and well, it just didn’t happen. And I really missed it. I particularly missed it when my own team, the Braves, started tanking. I didn’t even have any other players out there to root for while my own team fell waaaay below .500 and our hopes for making the playoffs vanished. I cheered for my husband’s beloved Red Sox, but they’re only my adopted team, so it’s not quite the same. (Also, the drama’s been lacking since they won the World Series in 2004.) I do have some residual fondness for a handful of players out there, so I monitored them, but without a fantasy team, it just lacked some of the urgency.
With my new team this year, I hope to avoid my perennial problem at long last: the Curse of the Shortstop. And it could happen. The Sox buried the Curse of the Bambino, didn’t they? But, er, the poor Cubbies are still laboring under the dual curses of the Goat and the Bartman, so maybe I need to be more measured in my optimism. However, every year, before spring training, everyone’s optimistic. The whole season stretches out before you. Anything is possible! That’s part of the romance, the very essence of baseball.
So what’s the Curse of the Shortstop? Very simply put, it was the main problem that affected my fantasy team every year. Whichever shortstop I drafted always got injured and wound up on the DL, sometimes even the 60-day DL. And in one not-so-memorable season, I drafted Nomar Garciaparra, back not so far removed from his glory days, and he wound up on the DL for almost the entire year. And then I was stuck having to rely on a backup (read: not so great) shortstop or finding another one on the waiver wire or hoping some phenom got promoted mid-season from the minors. And believe it or not, the Curse of the Shortstop happened every year; it was uncanny! No player or team was immune. We even joked that I should draft a SS from a team I hated just so I could guarantee that team would get hampered when the shortstop inevitably had to sit out for a few weeks.
So this year, this year is going to be different. And if not, well, watch out, Derek Jeter.