Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Longest Fantasy Baseball Story Ever Told - Part Seven

For a review of where we have been so far:

Part One - The Draft
Part Two - The Start of the Season
Part Three - Becoming a Seller
Part Four - The Rebuild
Part Five - The Trade Deadline
Part Six - The Stretch Run

And that leads us to the playoffs. By hook or by crook, with a whole lot of luck thrown in, my team not only made the playoffs but secured a first round bye. In an ironic twist, my opponent would come out of the two teams that I sold off my best assets to. It was the Greinke/Longoria/Uehara trifecta that bested the Braun/Tanaka combo.

In the biggest game of the season, my offense let the moment overwhelm them. Only Ben Revere, Jorge Soler, Eric Hosmer, and Leonys Martin had what could be described as average or better weeks. Meanwhile, our opponents were crushing the ball. We lost by 6 runs, 10 home runs, 20 RBI, 27 points of batting average, and a single stolen base. Only the last one really hurt, as it was necessary to get the victory. My ragtag group of players gave it their all, but it would not be enough to get a victory...

But my pitching would not be denied. Led by a 13 strikeout, one hitter from Jake Arrieta and two saves and a win for both David Robertson and Hector Rondon, my pitching managed to dominate in four categories. But, due to two pickups immediately picking up saves for my opponent, we were tied in Saves going into Sunday. I had one move left, and I had to decide whether it would be worth using it. Ultimately, I decided that I have to make the championship to win the championship, and I pulled the trigger to pick up interim San Diego Padres Closer, Kevin Quackenbush. He did not get a Save, but luckily, David Robertson did which locked up every pitching category for my team. The week would end in a 5-5 tie. Despite us having the same record, my seed was higher and hence I would be moving on to lead my team into the championship.

The odds were stacked against me in the championship. I was not only playing the number one seed, but he also had seven moves left to secure players as he pleased in the final week. This was another part of my reasoning to pick up Quackenbush as I could use Saves in the final week but stats like Wins and Ks would be tough to get since he could add pitchers as he pleased.

Still, my pitching was strong, and I figured my offense would bounce back after a lousy week. One of these things would prove true. Offensively, both teams were bad. Still, by the end of the week, he pulled away in RBI and average, but I pulled away in stolen bases. Saturday, he solidified his lead in runs. Meanwhile, despite all of his possible moves (he would end up using all seven), my pitching was proving strong. I took care of business in saves thanks to Quackenbush and Robertson getting a save, Rondon getting three, and Stroman adding a 4 inning save in there for good measure. I also had big leads in ERA and WHIP but barring a miracle, he was going to be too much for me in strikeouts.

Going into Sunday, a chance of getting the outright victory was slim. Unless my team got some major power on the final day, I would not be able to close his home run lead, so he was going to win five categories. Still, I could force the tie and split the big winnings for the championship as there are no tiebreakers in the championship round. I had three starters going, he had two, but I had a one win lead. With Cole Hamels, Alex Cobb, and Danny Salazar, I felt great about my chances.

Unfortunately, before the early games started, Salazar was a late scratch so they did not give him too many innings. It was 2 on 2 at this point, but I had what were likely my two best pitchers. Alex Cobb finally ran out of steam, as he had a pour outing against Salazar's replacement and the rest of the Cleveland Indians. Meanwhile, Hamels gave up only two runs in eight innings, but the Phillies only scored one.

One of his pitchers was Jordan Zimmermann, whose team also only gave him one run of support. Unfortunately, that was plenty, as he only allowed one baserunner in a no-hitter on the final day of the season. With all of his extra moves, he was able to get the tie in wins and beat me 5-4-1.

There would be no Natural Light celebrations. There would be no team of destiny stories. We were hard luck losers, but I was still damn proud. Usually, the almost champs never have their story told, but with the heart, determination, and chemistry of 25 guys coming together to make a team deserved to have their story shared with the world.

There are so many things that I could expound on, but let's take a break until we get to part eight of the longest fantasy baseball story ever told.

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