Sunday, February 22, 2009

Top 12 Oh Crap Fantasy Sports Moments

This week, I saw my first place and surging fantasy basketball team take the following hits:

> Manu Ginobili injury. Now, sure, Manu gets hurt by people with sour looks on their faces. But having already waited out the first few months of the year without him, I was really hoping to get four months of health. But no... ankle, not the one that was operated on, out for weeks or more. Did I mention that my team is weakest in three-pointers? Oh, yeah, there's also that.

> Andre Miller, owner of the longest current games played streak in the NBA, goes down in the third quarter at home against Denver. Which caused my actual basketball team to lose, and made me worry that he was going to be out longer than that. He wasn't, thankfully, but still a toll on the old brainpan.

> Jermaine O'Neal gets traded, then Yahoo gives him the dreaded red cross of injury. Turns out to be nothing, and he played well tonight (as the Heat beat the Sixers, grr), but it's Jermaine O'Neal. He makes Yao Ming look like Moses Malone.

> And then the big domino drops... Amare Stoudemire, out for the rest of the regular season with a retina problem. And here's the really fun part -- he's said to have suffered the injury in THE FIRST QUARTER of his game against the Clippers, a game in which he played 35 minutes, shot 15 for 20 from the floor, went 12 of 13 from the line, and scored 42 points with 11 boards. Um, how the hell does he score the second most points of any game this year, with 36 freaking minutes, and the next *DAY* he's got a season-ending retina injury?

As you might be able to tell, I'm bent. I'm also down heavy this week with a second place and falling team. But at least I got a list out of it!

12. Retirement Musing.
Hey, professional athletes -- want to know when you should retire? When the team freaking fires you, and no one else wants you around. Not a minute before. We don't care about you Going Out On Top, or Spending More Time With Your Family, or any other cockamamie story you want to pitch us. You play until they tear the uniform off you, and you don't say a word about any other life plan you might have until the retirement press conference.

Oh, and that press conference? Feel free to skip it. Go out with a measure of mystique if you had a real career, or just go away if you didn't. If people still care in a few years, show up at a memorabilia show and cash in, or go write your memoirs. But do not, under penalty of the revocation of your manhood, dither on going away when you make more in a year than 99% of the paying public might make in a decade (or, if you're a star, a lifetime).

Because this back and forth nonsense that causes people to make panic trades and go into off-seasons with way too much uncertainty in their lives? It's Just Wrong, and really unnecessary. Moving on...

11. Big Contract.
Aw, isn't that nice? Your player just got paid. Now, he's happy, he's relaxed, and he's about to take his foot off the gas pedal and give back that 10 to 20% boost that made him a winner for you. About the only good thing about this is that dumb owners will still trade for the guy. (Or he's that rare type he doesn't get changed by the money. Good luck with either of those.)

10. Coach Change. This one isn't always brutal, but there's the strong possibility that Things Will Change Now, and probably not for the better. Who cares if the team has dropped 12 out of the last 15? I'm getting numbers here, dammit. Respect my season! It's far more competitive and interesting than yours!

9. Bad Interview. Ready to endure any number of the exact same joke? Then you are ready for the Bad Interview fantasy player moment. Perhaps Allen Iverson is more tired of hearing the "Practice?" routine than his owners, but... probably not.

8. Teammate Move. Nothing better than having a guy whose value is dependent on another player... and then having that other player get moved. This is especially big in sports like basketball or hockey, but it also happens in baseball (oh, joy! My big hitter is going to get a lot of walks!). You also get the fun of knowing that your player was just a tool, and that his old numbers aren't coming back. Even better, so does everyone else.

7. In-Game Injury. If you're like me, I'm sorry. But you don't really get to watch enough live sports, because, well, you've got a family, life, commute, etc. So what you really don't want is to finally be settling down with a game, only to see your guy limping off. This one is especially fun if you've got a guy with a long injury history staggering off like Fred Sanford. (Can you tell I own Kurt Warner in a keeper league? I think you can.)

6. Reality Show. Oh, this always goes well, doesn't it? Just have a camera crew follow your guy around, seeing his wacky adventures and watching him amp up the insanity. This never precedes a bad year / snakebit injury / fast decline. Plus, all of the other guys in your league won't be able to stomach dealing for him.

5. Roid Hell. A month ago, I was mulling over retaining Alex Rodriguez in my keeper league. With Mark Teixiera on board, a better starting pitching staff that should mean less bench time in blowouts, and probable bounce-back years for a bunch of Yankee regulars, he was tempting, even at age 32. It's not like there are a huge number of third basemen that can give you 40 homers and 20 steals.

And then, well, this.

He might still have a big year, but probably not for my team, just to avoid wanting to defend him anymore.

Now, imagine how much fun this would be if I actually had A-Roid for a decent price, or had traded for him in a non-contract keeper league, etc., etc. Day after day of the story that wouldn't die, in the worst month of the year for sports stories to go away, the Chinese water torture of fandom.

It almost makes you feel bad for Yankee Fan. (Well, no.)

4. Blogger Buzz. Kind of like Roid Hell, but with the added fun of hardcore salaciousness and hate for Blogfrica. The Buzz kill is made much worse by the slow forwarding hell of links from your fellow owners, combined with the myriad number of fast Photoshops that connect the dots of whatever awful thing your guy is accused of doing.

And when there's smoke, there's usually fire... and gerbils, and teenaged girls, and a lot of other things that you'd rather not deal with in your draft prep.

3. Trade Value Death. Nothing quite like making the savvy draft pick or free agent pickup, then seeing it all go to hell at the trade deadline.

Consider the plight of the owners of John Salmons, a swingman for the Sacramento Kings. They actually had to pay attention to the Kings this year, which is bad enough, but at least they were getting good numbers for their trouble... and then their guy gets moved to the Chicago Bulls at the deadline, where he gets to split time with a half dozen other swingmen.

Even better is the fact that since they traded for him, you can't really cut him, because if you do... he'll get the same minutes for someone else. All while having no trade value. What fun!

2. Off-Court Injury. See the Stoudemire injury in the open. The only way this could be better is if Amare had caused the retina problem himself, preferably in something that shows up in #4. (How? See Hutchense, Michael. Or the number of retina injuries that happen from bungee jumping. I could go on.)

1. Actual Arrest.
This one's rare but wonderful, as you get to feel like you're taking the perp walk with the guy. It's even better if you really love the guy, own the jersey, root for the team, and get more or less scarred for life.

But look at the bright side, Giant Fan who owned Plex Burress: you can probably parlay this into an appearance on your local news, and the yummy tears-licking page views from all of those opposing team fans...

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