Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rule the Third: Know When to Fold Them

“I’m what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man, and I’ve failed much more than I’ve succeeded.” The Stranger, Sports Night (2000)

Failure is a four letter word in sports, both real and fantasy. But most teams fail when a championship is the goal. Many of your trades, you’ll get the bad end. Lots of your waiver or free agent pick-ups will be the wrong move. Even a successful campaign is often made of little failures. It’s one of the reasons I like baseball actually; getting on base just 40% of the time is considered really good.

Some people will disagree with me, but being able to accept failure, especially little ones, is crucial to winning. Failure is not an option, they’ll say! Failure is ALWAYS an option; failure is a great option, in fact. Don’t listen to Tiger Woods.

The worst move I probably made in the 2008 fantasy baseball season was not admitting failure. I refused to drop Jeff Francoeur. I was convinced he was going to turn it around. I watched as people picked up seeming one hit wonders who turned into all-stars in Carlos Quentin and Cliff Lee.

I did well that year. I drafted Edinson Volquez and Evan Longoria late. I picked up Nate McLouth. But I think I could have won had I admitted that I struck out on Francoeur ... as he did, so so many times.

We go into each season thinking that we’ve evaluated each player perfectly. And we fight the notion that we’ve made a mistake and ultimately shoot ourselves in the foot. On the flip side, sometimes a player we draft gets off to a hot start. And we try to hold said player until every ounce of value has been extracted. Think Chad Billingsley or Johnny Cueto last year. It’s important not to get married to your preseason projections. Besides injury, there’s also luck, legitimate improvement, and legitimate decline. And a lucky HR and a good one tally up in the cat all the same.

So how do you avoid this? The main way is to look at what is actually going on right now. Also, how and why. Not getting married to your preseason projections is all about seeing what’s actually happening in front of your face. That means watching baseball, reading about baseball, and digging through the box scores. By updating your information with new information, you’re pulling your projections closer to the truth.

And of course, make moves. I’ve seen a draft and leave team win once, and it was in a H2H 20 team basketball league where almost all of the talent was taken in the draft and then that team got lucky in the playoffs.

I say always try. Always be Bellichikian. Go for it on 4th and 2.

-Trigga Play