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I have a love/hate thing going on with fantasy baseball. I've been doing it for more than a decade, and I like some aspects of it quite a lot. For one thing, I have to keep up with the general lay of the land as far as players go in the big leagues. Victor Martinez missing an entire season this year wouldn't mean a thing to me, unless he was on my fantasy team (and thankfully he's not). Baseball expands itself beyond the narrow little purview of a single team and their exploits over the course of a season. And that can only be a good thing.
But on the other hand, fantasy baseball sometimes brings your fantasy team into direct opposition with your real life team. The best example I can think from last year was Johnny Cueto of the Reds. He was on my fantasy team, but he missed the first month of the season with an injury. I carried him on my staff, since we didn't have a DL option in my league, because I knew that he'd pay off when he returned. And he surely did that, posting a 2.31 ERA, to use an old-school measure of effectiveness, and a 1.09 WHIP for the newer generation. He's a quality young pitcher, and you should consider him highly as you prepare for your own fantasy draft.
But when his return was announced on May 8, his opponent was the Chicago Cubs. The team I've followed since I was a kid. The reason that baseball means so much to me to begin with. And their season--and Jim Hendry's tenure with the team--wasn't over yet. So I had a choice to make: Start Cueto, in the hope that he could deliver for my fantasy, or keep him on the shelf for one more start and pull for the Cubs.
I long ago decided that my real-life team would forever take precedence over my fantasy team. Fantasy, after all, is not reality. Nobody comes to Fanified for their fantasy teams, or any of the players that might be on it. Baseball's a team sport, and if a guy on your fantasy team hits three homers in a game but his team still loses, he'll wish he had a different result. And that's as it should be.
But I made an exception with Cueto, and I allowed myself the benefit of his strong performance against the Cubs that day. Had I followed my own rules and put the Cubs first, Cueto would have missed one more start before returning to action.But as it was, Cueto did well, my fantasy team benefitted, and the Cubs fell another game off the pace in their division.
I'm sure this happens all the time. Championships and playoff berths and all of that must be nice, but one-upping the other league members, and winning cash and/or bragging rights in the process, is nice, too. I would argue that's more tangible than where a team sits in the standings. But I'm a Cubs fan first, and the Cueto incident is an example of how fantasy can blur the lines in this sense.
Best of luck to you in your upcoming fantasy drafts. Any players I should look for on the board when it's my turn? Leave a note if you have any suggestions. Thanks!