(*) FANALYTICS: Little Victories
I grew up in a household populated by diehard Yankee fans. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with that. However, our apartment was located about three miles from Shea Stadium and all of my school friends rooted for the other team. Given how much time I spent in school and with those friends, it was no contest. My brother and I became betrothed to the blue and orange.
Family get-togethers were a constant battleground. It was always me and my brother against my Dad, my uncle and all the cousins from the Bronx. Still, everyone felt the pain when Thurman Munson's plane went down in 1979. And I thought everyone might feel the joy when Johan Santana hurled the Mets' first no-hitter last weekend.
I just happened to be in New York at the time, helping my daughter move into her apartment down on Lafayette Street. One of my cousins offered to meet us for dinner. He said to me:
"You know, I can't believe all this media hoopla over the no-hitter. Yes, it was a milestone, but so what? The Mets are still not going to win the division. With the Yankees, the eye is always on the real prize. If a Yankee pitches a no-hitter, it's like 'nice job, another win, what's the next thing we need to do to get to the World Series?' With the Mets, all they've got is a no-hitter."
In a way, he's right. It is a difference in mindset, one focused on the big picture, the other on the little victories. But I don't think that's a bad thing, even in fantasy baseball.
For starters, not everyone is going to be a winner. In a 12-team league, perhaps 3-4 owners are already out of contention right now, and another 3-4 on the brink of packing it in. What do they have to look forward to over the next few months? In a keeper league, perhaps there may be some tactical rebuilding. In a redraft league, perhaps football season?
So what's so bad about looking for little victories? If you can't win yourself, maybe you can set smaller goals. Maybe you can spend the rest of the season turning around your last place standing in batting average. Maybe you can focus your efforts on making sure your arch rival finishes out of the money (without resorting to collusion, of course).
The one thing you don't want to do is stop playing. Abandoned teams are the scourge of fantasy leagues. As much as dump trades can have a disproportionate impact on the standings, abandoned teams have a potentially worse impact on long-term league health.
So if your team is out of contention, look for opportunities to get some little victories. In fact, many leagues have small prizes for winning categories or making up the most ground during the season, regardless of where you finish. Finding ways to maintain interest all year helps prolong league longevity. It's a good thing in its own right.