Monday, April 4, 2011

Is it "Next Year" Yet?

As you probably know by now, I grew up in New England--Massachusetts, to be precise. And, like many of my peers, I grew up to be a life-long Red Sox fan.

Now, when I was a kid, the Red Sox were not known for winning championships. The last one they had won was in 1918, so there weren't too many people around who could remember it. But every season, we would root for them, and hope that this was the year when they would beat the odds, and bring us another World Series Championship. When they came close (and they nearly always came close) but didn't win, we'd say, along with fans of most other teams, "Just wait 'til next year."

Our "next year" finally came with a World Series win in 2004, and, surprise, surprise, again in 2007. This year, they're predicted, along with the Philadelphia Phillies--my new hometown team--to make it to the World Series again.This year, they say, the Sox have put it all together: phenomenal pitching, great fielding, and hitting beyond belief. 

But Boston lost their first three games and are tied for last in the AL East. What about our dominating pitching staff? In our second game of the season they let in twelve runs. Not a very auspicious beginning.

To take our minds off of our troubles, a bunch of us decided to participate in a fantasy baseball league. I've never done this before, so I knew I would make some rookie mistakes. We held our draft yesterday, and I really had no idea how it worked. The only thing I knew for sure was that you had to draft a player for each position, six utility hitters, and one entire squad for pitching--not individual pitchers. 

I did some homework. Okay, my husband helped me--even though he was drafting a competing team. He pulled out his many scouting books, and researched everyone online. (I told you we New Englanders were fans!) All I knew was that I wanted to draft Kevin Youkilis, the Red Sox Gold Glove first baseman, who this year will be going back to his original position, playing third base. He once told the manager that he would be willing to play any position except catcher. How can you not like a guy like that?

And I knew I didn't want to draft any Yankees. There was no way I would end up cheering for a Yankee player just because it would help my fantasy team.

But I was so worried about pitching that when my first pick came (8th out of 10 in the first round), I picked my pitching squad. Apparently, that was against protocol. Other players seemed shocked, and suddenly were flinging papers everywhere, trying to adjust their next picks. Hmmm--throwing off the competition. Maybe I'm better at this than I thought. Which pitching squad did I pick? The Phillies. You might think this a bit disloyal, but the Phillies are undefeated, and in first place in their division, their league, and all of Major League Baseball!

Everyone was given 90 seconds per pick, so I expected the draft to take forever, giving me a chance to sort through and select my players with care. But everyone picked so quickly, that before I knew it, it was my turn again, and I got Youkilis! Fist pump of joy! On my next pick I got Dustin Pedroia, also of the Red Sox--our second baseman and former Rookie of the Year and AL MVP. Two fist pumps of joy! 

The draft was stressful, but went so fast, I hardly knew who I had until it was all over. It turns out, I have a pretty good team. At least they look pretty good on paper--so far. So I'm pulling for my Sox, the Phillies, and my fantasy team, "Mama's Boys." I hope they all win.

But if they don't, well, just wait 'til next year!