Here's the scoop: October 30, 2013

Living a Fantasy
Because most of its members have fast-paced lives, with participants often jetting halfway around the world for work obligations, our Fantasy Baseball league only held its year-end party last weekend. Or, maybe it was because the commissioner — who can’t bear that fact that changing leaves signal the end of the baseball — had retreated to Florida shortly after the regular season ended.
Anyhow, the event was held and teams that finished in the top five places were rewarded for their season of hard work. And luck. Let’s not forget luck.
Baseball legend “Lefty” Gomez was often linked to the line, “I’d rather be lucky than good.” I know what he meant.
Dedicated readers may recall that a few months back I lamented a growing amount of pressure as my wife pointed out the lack of correlation between the hours I spent obsessing over my Fantasy Baseball team’s statistics and the glory of another league championship.
Normally, I can go on for 15 minutes complaining about how my unfailing faith in the promise of Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas was absolutely killing my team’s chances. I could rattle off statistics about his terrible batting average and miniscule home run and RBI numbers.
“Why do you keep picking him, then?” she’d logically ask. Why, indeed?
“Well, I keep thinking ‘This will be the year that he puts it all together,’” I’d reply.
Or not.

Help me out here, please
During my religious-like studies of the game, I’d look for signs of hope. And pray a lot. Probably three times during the season, Moustakas seemed like he was figuring things out. He was finally going to be the type of productive third baseman I needed to help me compete for a title. He even said so in interviews. Talk is cheap, as they say.
With each strikeout in a big situation, my belief in the highly touted prospect dwindled. As did my title hopes.
Somehow, though, after a frustrating first half of the season, my imaginary team of real major leaguers began inching up in the standings. Or, maybe the teams in front of me were just doing worse than mine. Either way, I was no longer in the bottom half of the 15 league entrants.
While I have a few league championships to savor, my wife reminded me this summer that it’s been six years since I brought home the grand prize. Talk about pressure.
As the regular season entered its final weeks, a bunch of my players started to produce like they belonged in the majors. I inched up some more. With about 10 days to go, there were 14 teams behind me. Still, the struggle for the top spot was closer than I’d ever seen it.
More out of habit than real interest, my wife would occasionally inquire about the status of my club. “There’s a decent chance I’ll finish in the money (top 5),” I told her with about a week to go.
There was an even bigger chance that I’d have my title hopes crushed by a collapse in the season’s final days.

Glimmer of hope
Despite most of my offensive players falling into slumps and my pitchers throwing well(but failing to put up many statistics in the all-important “wins” category), I managed to stay in first as the season wound down. Until I wasn’t.
With three days left in the season, I slipped to second. The following day, fourth place. Making matters worse, there were four teams with a real chance at winning.
Being optimistic by nature, I kept the faith. My analysis (and there was lots of that going on), told me I still had a good shot a winning the title. Like it usually doesn’t, everything went well on the last day— I gained points in several categories. Even Mike Moustakas finally made a huge contribution — by not playing and hurting my fragile advantage in batting average.
I was in first place at the end of the regular season — but, I hadn’t won anything! There was a one-game playoff between Texas and Tampa Bay. One home run for the team a half-point behind me would break a three-way tie in that category and send me home very disappointed. True story — in his last at-bat, Texas’ Adrian Beltre flew out to the warning track — another 10 feet would have sunk my title hopes.
When I finally dared check the box score from the last game (I couldn’t bear to watch it), Lefty Grove’s words kept popping into my mind. Along with a huge sigh of championship relief.
— Brian Sweeney