The fantasy dilemma

For the past 15 years or so, I have been in a fantasy baseball league of some form or fashion. The league I’m in now is a “keeper” league, meaning that a few of the team’s players from the previous season can be held over, but everyone else has to be thrown back into the pool before the annual player draft.

This year’s team, which I co-manage with a buddy of mine,  had Johnny Cueto of the Reds as one of the starting pitchers. Cueto was out for the first month of the season, and we could have dropped him to pick up another pitcher instead. We held onto him, though, in the hopes that he would return to form. And his 9-5 record and sparkling 2.31 ERA for the year indicates that our faith in him was justified.

But that isn’t the point of this post. When Cueto’s first start of the year was announced for May 8th, his opponent that day was…the Chicago Cubs. Which revived, yet again, the age-old (as much as anything relating to fantasy baseball can be considered as age-old) dilemma of rooting for your fantasy guy at the expense of your real-life team.

After missing a full month of the season, I wanted Cueto to come back with a vengeance. But, if he did that, it would mean the team I’ve rooted for in real life for so many years would bear the brunt of it. I could have just kept Cueto on the bench, and not availed my team of the fantasy points that he would collect with a strong performance. But I didn’t do that. I put Cueto in, in the hope that he would pitch well enough to earn a Quality Start, but his team would still somehow lose the game (with a relief pitcher taking the loss, and not Cueto).

It didn’t happen that way. Cueto got the quality start, all right, but he also gave up no runs and took the win. So my fantasy team got more of a boost than I had thought, but the Cubs–who were already struggling at the time–lost a Sunday game at home. I wish I could see that development in a positive light, but that wasn’t how I felt about it. It obviously bugs me enough to sit down and write a few words about it here.

If only there was a league that could freeze out the performance of any player that plays against your team on a given day. You wouldn’t lose the player from your fantasy team altogether, but you wouldn’t be able to gain anything from their performance against the team of your choice, either. Perhaps there are such leagues already, and I just haven’t heard anything about them. Please let me know if there is such a league available.

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