I was sitting on my computer today following the Phillies-Nationals game and my fantasy team when Placido Polanco scored a run in front of a Chase Utley home run. It made me realize something.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. A) What the heck were you doing following a Phillies Nationals game? And B) What on Earth could Placido Polanco have triggered a thought of?
It makes sense. Trust me.
The reason Polanco made me think is because when he scored, I got excited about another run scored for my fantasy team. Polanco has been a staple on my fantasy baseball team for years. He always goes way later than he should and always hits somewhere between .300 and .320 with a decent amount of runs scored.
He’s a cheap, efficient middle infielder who gets the job done and so I always make sure he’s on my team.
But today, there was only one thing. He wasn’t on my team. While I was baffled at my omission of Polanco on my roster, it made me think about how fantasy baseball can affect your feelings toward a particular athlete.
Placido Polanco has helped me achieve success several times over the course of my fantasy baseball career. And because of this, I root for Polanco. Now, there’s no reason I should have any vested interest in Polanco. He’s a decent middle infielder who’s never played for a team I give a crap about. But because of fantasy baseball, I have found myself unknowingly rooting for Polanco to succeed, even though he’s not on my team anymore.
It’s silly, I know. But it’s something I realized I do with all fantasy athletes. There are specific athletes in all sports that I really like, or really hate, all because of fantasy sports.
And while fantasy baseball makes me like Polanco, it makes me hate athletes far more often than it makes me like them, so here’s a list of some other athletes who I have changed my opinion of based solely on their fantasy production.
Donovan McNabb – Hate. There was a several year period in fantasy football where I wound up with McNabb as my starting quarterback. Unfortunately, that period was when he was breaking down every year and putting up the worst numbers of his career. I always bought into the “McNabb’s back and better than ever!” headlines, only to be disappointed later on.
Laurence Maroney – Hate. This one is sort of obscure, but there was one, specific year, Maroney’s
second season in the league, where I had the 12th pick in my football league and was set on Maroney being “the man” in New England. How foolish of me to believe a Bill Belichick running back could actually be a fantasy stud. He was a stupid, horrible first round bust.
Vernon Wells – Hate. I had Wells in my AL-only Auction Keeper League the first year I joined the league and his contract was $2.70 ($27, for those of you in standard leagues). If you don’t know anything about auction leagues, that contract is WAY too expensive for a player like Wells, who, has floundered in Toronto ever since earning a mammoth contract. I ended up trading him halfway through the season for Michael Cuddyer and a minor leaguer.
Dustin Pedroia – Love. In that same league and the same year, I was down to my final pick and needed a second baseman. I drafted the Red Sox’s rookie second baseman for a dime, the cheapest you can get a player for. I’ve had Pedroia ever since at that tiny price and he rewarded me with an American League MVP Award. I’m not able to draft Pedroia in every league, every year. But I try to get him, and he holds a special place in my heart.
Josh Hamilton – Love. Two years ago I drafted Josh Hamilton in the very last round of my yearly ESPN league. That, of course, was the year Hamilton blew up in his first year in Texas and emerged as an MVP candidate. He was the last player on my team, and easily the best player on it that year.
Robert Meachem – Love. This one’s very recent. I was left for dead in my fantasy football league this past season and took a flyer on Meachem halfway through the season because my wide receivers sucked and Drew Brees was throwing a ton of touchdown passes. Meachem went nuts for the Saints down the stretch, ending up as the team leader in touchdown catches and leading me to a five-game winning streak down the stretch.
Yao Ming – Hate. I don’t play a ton of fantasy basketball. I’ve tried several times but am just no good and have a hard time paying attention for an entire season. But one thing I can say with certainty is that Yao Ming is an injury waiting to happen. I drafted him in the first or second round a handful of times and he never panned out.
Ryan Franklin – Love. There have been two separate years where Franklin entered the season as a middle reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals and two separate years where he grabbed the closers role at the beginning of the season and thrived. In both instances, I grabbed Franklin with a free agent move and in both instances, I did not regret it. Particularly last year was he good, but there was a time a few years ago when Jason Isringhausen went down and Franklin was a save waiting to happen that time as well.
So, that’s basically it. There’s no way I would ever care about the success or failure of the aforementioned players if it weren’t for fantasy sports. But because of what they have done, they are forever engrained in my memory either in a positive way or negatively.