Bad Boys

I can’t believe we are on the verge of our 5th Fantasy Baseball League. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Five years ago, when Matt McLaughlin proposed that we start a fantasy league, my first thought was that I’d try it out for a season, but I wasn’t optimistic that I would enjoy it.  As much as I love baseball, I thought fantasy baseball was for nerds. I signed up begrudgingly, cajoled my dad and a couple of friends to join, and was able to get nine teams signed up. Unfortunately, we needed ten.

As the clock ticked down to draft time, I got desperate. I asked my wife to bail me out and sign up. She said, “No, thanks.” I promised that I would help her draft a team and assist her along the way during the season. Knowing what we know now, that last sentence sounds really stupid. She finally agreed, and the rest is history.

I never thought I would enjoy this league as much as I do. I get excited when the season is approaching and I can start looking at players and formulating my draft strategy. But as I wrote last year, my favorite part was the constant fantasy baseball talk between Ginger, the Bostonbadboy and myself. We were all hooked… hard.

The Badboy lived 500 miles away, and we would talk three times a week about teams, our opponents and what players we could trade away. These conversations were the best.

We always hoped that we would have all three Ingalls members in the playoffs, but it never came to be. As much as my dad liked to play, he wasn’t very good at it. I think we all salivated a little when we were number one in the waiver wire order, anticipating which superstar the Badboy was going to drop after they may have had a mediocre week. He managed his fantasy team like he used to manage my Little League team. He didn’t care if he won or lost. He just wanted everyone to have a good time.  The Badboy used two resources to help him assemble his team: the USA Today and his gut. Neither served him too well during a long season. The funny thing is, he really didn’t care if he lost. I know he enjoyed following baseball, talking trash, and busting balls, and I think it made him feel young to be playing with people half his age.

We’ve had people come and go during our five years of playing, but I always thought the Love Boat Captains, Boston Badboys and the Yankeehaters – three of the original ten teams – would stay playing together for many years.

The reason for writing this is that the Boston Badboy got sick in June 2011, and passed away in November. I miss him a lot. I know that I’m going to miss him much more when baseball season rolls around. In the weeks after he died, I thought that I would be done with fantasy baseball. In my mind, there was no way it was going to be nearly as fun. How could it be? But as time moved on, I remembered how much my dad enjoyed reading, interacting with everyone, and using strange names for his comments (Albert Desalvo, Clark Kent, Old Man River, Lucky Larry, to name a few), all written in the same nearly incomprehensible style that was my dad’s.

I know that he would want me to keep playing,  just to keep kicking Dan the #1 Rays Fan’s butt!  But how do I replace one of the original members? Especially someone who I enjoyed playing with so much?

I originally thought it should be another family member, but although my brothers enjoy sports, they are not as rabid about baseball as my dad and I. I had criteria for a potential new player. He had to be involved all year. I can’t stand part-time players that don’t keep up with their team. Our league is too good and deserves ten committed owners. The new owner had to know baseball and be familiar with the players. He had to be passionate about his team.

After careful consideration, my choice was obvious – my longtime friend, Dennis. Ginger and I met Dennis for lunch a few weeks ago to pitch to him the idea of replacing my dad and joining our league, and he accepted. Dennis was honored and maybe a little intimidated, as he had heard stories over the years about the tough competition in our league. I think he’s going to do great. Although he’s a damn Yankee fan, Dennis knows baseball and is a tough negotiator. He has chosen his team name to the be the “October Boys.” I’ve already warned him about most of you, so please try to make him feel welcome.

While we are on the subject of team names, I am retiring the Yankeehaters name. Although it has treated me well over the past four seasons, it’s time for a change.

I wanted a name that would strike fear in the hearts of the owners.  A name rich in fantasy baseball tradition. So from here on out, I’m the Boston Badboys. But unlike my dad, I’m going to spell it the right way, I’m going to make the playoffs… and I’m going to win the league!

Consider yourselves warned.