August 11, 2005

I’ve been secretly playing in a rookie-level, head-to-head league all season, in an attempt to actually win a league for once in my life. I know that sounds kinda lame, but considering my current track record, do I deserve to play in a top-level league?

On Sunday I held a narrow 5.5-point lead over my opponent as the Diamondbacks-Rockies game entered the bottom of the seventh. The only player left who could cost me the week, Troy Glaus, was due up third in the inning. After a Luis Gonzalez groundout and a Tony Clark home run, Glaus stepped to the plate for what would probably be his last AB of the game.

The count ran all the way to 3-2 before Glaus clobbered a Marcos Carvajal pitch 839 feet for a home run. Four points for the homer, one for the run and one for the RBI. I was now down half a point after being one pitch away from sealing up the week.

The good news was that I still had Jeromy Burnitz, Derrek Lee and Braden Looper in the ESPN Sunday night game. All I needed was a walk, run or anything to give me the W for the week and keep my team in second place in its division (the top two teams from each division make the playoffs).

The game begins, and Burnitz is not in the starting lineup. Turns out that Dusty Baker decided it would be a good time to give Burnitz the night off since the outfielder supposedly looked weary. No big deal, I still had the league’s leading hitter, who reaches base 43 percent of the time. Lee was coming off an 0-for-4 Saturday, but what were the odds on him getting shut out again, especially since he had recorded back-to-back hitless/walkless games only once all season?

Sure enough, Lee made an out his first three times up, including a popup on a 3-2 pitch in the sixth that probably would have been ball four had he not swung. In his last AB in the ninth, he hit a slow chopper to third baseman David Wright, who made a solid play to throw Lee out by half a step.

Since the Mets were up five runs, Looper never entered the game and I was left with a half-point loss for the week — the third time this season I have lost a week by less than three points.

More Derrek Lee

Watch out Lee owners. I just completed a trade this morning where I dealt Eddie Guardado and Grady Sizemore in exchange for Lee and Jose Valverde. Lee hasn’t been great the past few weeks, but now that I have my hands on him in two different leagues, any chance of him making a run at the first NL Triple Crown in 68 years is all but over.

Reed Johnson

As I’m sure eight of you are probably aware, Johnson’s six-game hitting streak came to an end on Sunday. Why the heck am I writing about this? Only because the announcers on TV pointed out that Johnson’s streak ended on Sunday — as if he was right on DiMaggio’s heels. Is a six-game hitting streak really worth mentioning? Doesn’t Albert Pujols have a six-game streak just about every other week?

To Johnson’s credit, he did surpass Juan Gonzalez’s famous four-game hitting streak from 1997. Remember that one? Probably not, but ESPN felt it was important enough to mention the night it came to an end.

Hey, did you know that Craig Counsell has stolen three straight bases without being caught? He now only trails Vince Coleman’s mark by 47. But an even more exciting fact is that Danys Baez (four straight saves) has now inched to within 80 of Eric Gagne’s record.

Trading Spouses

The only league I’m actually doing well in is a 10-team mixed league that includes my wife’s family. Heading into Thursday I was actually sitting in second place, only five points out of first. The fact that half the league stopped paying attention in May has helped my cause just a bit.

I’ve been struggling in steals all season (last place entering the week), so on Tuesday I traded John Lackey — who I just picked up a week ago — and Hideki Matsui for Juan Pierre. Seems like a lopsided trade in the other person’s favor, but I am way ahead of everyone in homers and RBIs, and already have Jake Peavy, Rich Harden, Ben Sheets, Danny Haren, Javy Vazquez and John Patterson in my rotation. Since I can make up 5-7 points in steals, I needed a speedster like Pierre.

Here’s the problem — the trade was with my wife, something that probably should never, ever be allowed in fantasy baseball. I’ve avoided even considering doing business with her all season, but the folks who own Rafael Furcal, Jose Reyes and Chone Figgins haven’t checked their teams in three months, and thus haven’t responded to any of my trade offers. I also made attempts at acquiring Scott Podsednik and Carl Crawford, but as important members of the first- and third-place teams, respectively, they weren’t really for sale.

As a result, I had nowhere else to turn to pick up some speed. Besides, Mrs. Klayman needed power, average and strikeouts, so the trade made a lot of sense for her since she has plenty of speed already (Bobby Abreu, Adam Everett, Coco Crisp, Derrek Lee and others).

I’m sure this breaks some unofficial fantasy law/rule, and the roto gods are now preparing to strike down this team, as they already have with every other team I’ve owned since 1998.

Two Katastrophes straight from the keyboards of other fantasy owners?

In March, full of hope, I thought Jason Giambi would be a fine piece of my club, as a 19th pick over 21 rounds. Drafting last of twelve forced me to gamble a bit and Giambi looked, at the time, like a good bet.

Things turned out so badly in April-May-June, seeing me dropping to the last rank in our league because of a dreadful attack (dreadful to myself of course). With guys like Victor Martinez, Steve Finley, Justin Morneau, Rafael Furcal and friends, I could not believe that almost everyone on my club would tank at the same time. I was even below a guy not even managing his team because he left our rotisserie pack. I had no other choice than to do some major cleaning up.

First things first, I got rid of Mr. Giambi. At the time, it looked like a very good move. Having Morneau, Dmitri Young and Giambi at 1B, all of whom were in deep slumps, I guessed Giambi was the worst of the pack since he proved he had nothing left and that his power was gone.

Then, July came. After the first three homers, I told myself, "Gee, you might have missed something, go grab him again." Then I tried to. I still remember it — it was a Friday night, around 1 a.m. He was right there, in the available free agent pool, waiting. Then, before I could even select him, my internet provider let me down, my line was cut for eight hours and, guess what? In the morning, he was gone. Easy prey. Easy go.

— Portland’s Kangaroos owner 

I think a lot of fantasy owners can relate to this. Nothing is worse than being the one who dropped Giambi, then having to listen to the lucky owner who scooped him up brag about his/her pickup, as if he/she really knew Giambi was going to become this good again.

Check out the team I drafted at the beginning of the season — looked great on paper, but I must have a jinx I don’t know about. Is it even possible that I could get this unlucky?

The All-Injured or Underachieving Team

C — Javy Lopez: DL 8 weeks
1B — Todd Helton: Career .335 hitter, STILL not over .300 and now on DL
2B — Jose Vidro: DL 8 weeks
SS — Nomar Garciaparra: DL 14 weeks
3B — Mike Lowell: Nothing needs to be said here
OF — Corey Patterson: In Triple-A for a month
OF — Steve Finely: Batting .228, are you kidding me? Also spent time on DL
OF — Raul Mondesi: Retired
SP — Russ Ortiz: DL twice
SP — Jason Marquis: 15-7 last year, currently 9-10
RP — Eric Gagne: DL most of the season
RP — Brandon Lyon: 60-day DL
RP — Chin-hui Tsao: DL most of the season

I also picked up Chad Fox on April 24 — the day he got his first save as the "new Cubs closer" — only to see him throw out his arm on April 25.

— Andy R, Dubuque, Iowa

Andy, it’s always nice to know that some people actually have worse luck than I do. If you ever want to join a league I’m in, just let me know.

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