Editor's note: If you don't like reading about other people's fantasy baseball teams, turn away now. If you do, you're officially a masochist. Carry on.
In 2006, thanks to a late-season trade for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, I won the elite, West Coast-oriented Yay Area Keeper League. It was my first year as a member.
In 2007, we switched to a keeper league. And like a moron, I engaged in a drunken unplanned fight with my then-girlfriend and missed the first four rounds of the draft. Instead of Alex Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman, I ended up with Alfonso Soriano, Justin Morneau, Jimmy Rollins and Jeremy Bonderman. An eighth-place finish followed.
It was the beginning of the end. After a few years packed with bad trades (Carl Crawford for Carlos Quentin and Erik Bedard) and dumb free-agent pickups (David Freese, Ty Wigginton), I've firmly ensconced myself in the league's bottom half.
But this year is going to be different. For the first time, I locked up five legitimate keepers: Halladay, Kevin Youkilis, Colby Rasmus, Adrian Beltre and Kendrys Morales. It might not be Albert Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez (damn you, Commissioner True), but after years of keeping scrubs like Ryan Ludwick, Matt Wieters and the corpse of Chipper Jones, it's practically a miracle.
And the first few rounds of my draft went wonderfully: young stud Justin Upton, a healthy Jimmy Rollins, flamethrower Carlos Marmol, newly christened Angeleno Ted Lilly and post-hype sleeper Gordon Beckham. Throw a few late-round value picks in there (Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, Will Venable and one more go-around with Mr. Bedard) and I think you've got a legitimate contender.
I won two fantasy baseball leagues last year. In the my third, this one, the YAKL, I came in dead last. That makes me a AAA fantasy player; I can mash in the minors, but can I make it in the bigs?
A projected 30/30 season from Upton says I can. Another Cy Young season from Halladay? That'll help, too. Rasmus reaching 20/20 and Morales coming back from the DL with a vengeance? The icing on the cake. As I made very clear last year, I really enjoy my fantasy baseball. And there's nothing better than falling in love with a keeper team. This is your year, Sioux City Sarsaparillas. Make me proud.