I have been playing some form of fantasy sports since the mid-90s: Football and baseball, mostly. A few seasons of basketball. I have been in leagues with co-workers, with friends, with randoms. I have been in snake drafts and, a couple years ago, even tried an auction-draft baseball season.
The common factor among every season: I was a loser.
Almost always, a second-division loser. I can remember making the playoffs once or twice, but that feels hazy -- like I created that in my head to make myself feel better about the perennial sucking. (Wait: I just remembered that somewhere in a box in a storage unit, I have one of those old ESPN.com pennants for winning my league. I cannot remember how or when I won it -- maybe the late-90s? It is also possible I merely swiped one from the ESPN.com fantasy storage closet while I was working next to it.)
My failures have been pretty epic: In my main baseball league, I had a breakthrough year in 2009... finishing 9th or 10th out of 16 teams. In my three football leagues, I was so bad that I had to claim moral victory in my Kissing Suzy Kolber keeper league by capping yet another last-place season by knocking DJ Gallo out of the playoffs with a rare win.
All that said, I am going to win my first fantasy championship tonight, when my "Gilbert's Arenas" wins the "6-Inch Verticals" NBA fantasy league, defeating Deadspin's Tommy Craggs in the two-week championship series. The league was organized by Yahoo's Brett Dykes (aka Cajun Boy), who set up a scoring system so convoluted -- a Byzantine calculus including made (and missed) field goals and free-throws, made (and missed) 3s and all sorts of other traditional stats -- that someone like me could stumble my way to a championship. In fact, I was somewhat of a juggernaut.
And, oh, did it feel good to finally win consistently. And does it feel good to finally win that championship.
And so I want to take a moment to spotlight my team of champions:
PG: Chauncey Billups, Aaron Brooks
SG: Dwyane Wade, Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon
F: Josh Smith, Al Horford, Carlos Boozer
Drafted but Dropped At Some Point (but still getting a playoff share): Tyreke Evans (!), Al Harrington, Jonny Flynn, Andrei Kirilenko, Greg Oden, Charlie Villanueva.
Critical Mid-Season Pickups: George Hill, Chris Andersen, Omri Casspi, Anthony Tolliver and Late-Season Pickups: Terrence Williams, Tayshaun Prince, Taj Gibson, JJ Hickson.
Finally: I might have kicked myself for dropping Tyreke Evans after the first week of the season, but the player I ended up swapping him for turned out to by my team -- and arguably league -- MVP: Marc Gasol, who under the scoring system, was an absolute monster. Because of his role on my one and only title team, he will always have a special place for me.
Team of Champions: I salute you!
(As for the rest of the players under my management, across all sports: New standards!)