Life is busy, but you hardly need me to tell you that. I’ve been away from writing here for two months, selling my house and moving in to a new one. We’ve all got demands on our time, whether it is our jobs, family, friends, or other activities. These things keep us away from less important things; like fantasy baseball. That sounds like sacrilege coming from a fantasy baseball die-hard, but the fact is there is limited time for each of us. Bruce Lee said: “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of”. We are nearing the end of the fantasy baseball season – for some it is already over. The question now becomes How can I spend my fantasy baseball time more wisely next year?
There was a time that I played in only one league. It was a great league with fantastic owners, and I dedicated nearly every waking moment to it. I led the league in trades, transactions, and undoubtedly overall time spent on the site. Other than driving all the other owners crazy with daily trade offers, it was the best of fantasy baseball times. I slowly added a league here and there, and as my portfolio grew, the time spent per league decreased. My 3-4 hours per day on one league (don’t mock me!) got divided up between two leagues, then three, four, and five leagues. Add in a couple of hours per day on this site (although Jim Finch can attest to my horrible slacking of late), and I was spending just a fraction of the time I used to on a per league basis. And I mean a fraction. I also work 75 hours a week and have a wife and two daughters at home. Like everyone else who plays this wonderful game, I need to find a way to not waste time that I have so little of.
Much to the chagrin of the fantasy baseball overlords, I am going to suggest cutting back on some leagues. Not because they aren’t all fun in their own way, but because some are just time-wasters. The idea is to spend your precious fantasy baseball time in the leagues that are most fulfilling, not spread thin among various leagues that are not. It is never easy dropping a league, but I’m suggesting that you will be a better fantasy player because of it. The following is a guideline to help you decide whether you are wasting your valuable time in any of your leagues.
1. Are the majority of the other owners as invested as you are?
In many leagues there are one or two owners that just don’t care at all and do little to nothing all season to improve their squads. Ideally these people are replaced by their commissioners, but sometimes they are allowed to continue to do this year in and year out. Take a look at the league history. Transaction counts aren’t obviously everything as far as activity level, but they don’t lie either. If multiple teams can go weeks or even months without making roster additions, this is a poor league and a waste of your valuable time. What about trade offers? Are you reduced to offering trades to only half of your league because you know the others will just ignore them indefinitely?
Why not focus your energy in leagues where everyone is committed? Wouldn’t your skills be more challenged there? Wouldn’t you become a better player by facing better competition? If the other owners aren’t invested in the league as much as you are, you are doing yourself a major disservice by continuing to play there. There are plenty of leagues ready to challenge you, with owners that are all involved.
2. Are you pushing yourself in new ways every year just to keep up?
There are many great quotes out there that start with “If you’re not learning”. They end with “you are not growing”, “you are not living”, and even “you are wasting time”. This could not be more true in fantasy baseball, and it applies to even new seasonal leagues. If you are playing in free-site leagues every year and experiencing easy success, you are not growing your skills. Often these leagues end with owners quitting half way through, and you have an easier time accumulating talent. The only way to improve your competence level in this area is to try new strategies against better competition. Failure is the key ingredient towards learning, so spread your wings and try something new and more difficult.
If you’ve never used FAAB or done a live auction, then do it. Try a 30 team league or an AL/NL-only league. Find tougher competition. The work that you will need to put in to be successful in this one league will serve you better than winning 3 other easier leagues. As for keeper and dynasty leagues; if you are winning, doing basically the same thing year in and year out then you are not learning. I don’t just mean winning championships, as there is certainly some luck involved, especially in H2H formats. But simply, if you know that you are going to make the playoffs every year solely because there aren’t many tough owners to push you.
Ask yourself: What have I learned this year? What new skills did I use to help me be successful? In leagues where the answer is none, it is time for you to move on.
3. Is it more about the friendships than the competition?
If you are playing in a lousy league with old college buddies, work friends, or family, may I suggest you stop. It is great to play with people you know on a personal level, but there are other ways to keep in contact. If the league is great then this can be the very best kind. But if half the players don’t understand the basic principles of regression for example, then it is best to just walk away.
Keep in contact with them – this is the point of this piece after all – but pick up the phone and call them, have a barbecue, or just troll them on twitter. There is no reason to spend your dedicated fantasy baseball time here. I might also add that sometimes family or other personal relationships can be damaged by this game. As it turns out, some of these people turn out to be real
4. Do you have one amazing league you wish you could spend more time in?
If you are lucky enough to have one fantastic league, wouldn’t you like to be more successful there? I am in a 30-team league with a 20-man minor league rosters. I like to think that I have a decent handle on prospects, but this has stretched me. Other owners have, on various occasions, picked up players I had never heard of. All too often when I investigated these players I was not only impressed with others’ savviness, but it gave me a push to look for player targets in ways I hadn’t before.
It was also common for me here to check the owner list and see that all 30 owners had been on-site in the previous 3 days. It’s just a great league, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of it. I also know that my rebuild is going to be difficult and will require a lot of hard work. Wouldn’t I rather put the time in here, where I am learning and pushing myself? Absolutely!
I am in a few very good leagues, and some not-so-good ones. I have limited time, as is the case for all of us. If you have a secret formula for creating more time, please let us all know in the comments. Until then, I am suggesting that we spend our fantasy baseball time more wisely. Challenge yourself to be a better player. Play with owners that are better than you. And stop wasting time in leagues where neither happen. Good luck in 2017.
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