It was either 2002 or 2003 – in all honesty I cannot remember which year it was – but in one of those years the Five Rare Breeds fantasy baseball league was born. The league ultimately died three years later due to circumstances but one thing lives on – a friendship between two of the managers. They are the (according to his work e-mail signature) ‘Senior Manager, Strategy & Planning for Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets’ and myself.
Now we might not be the most obvious of friends – an at the time student bum and someone very high up at one of the banks but here we are. The fact that we are both called Neil has always been subject to confusion to some people. For the sakes of this piece he is Neil H and I am Neil M. Neil H is Dundee born n bred but resides in New York and is now an American citizen. I’m me but you know about my history if you are reading this blog.
In 2005 we moved to another keeper league UKL2 which is now in its sixth season. Banker Neil is a two-time champion and ex-student bum Neil has yet to win – although he is a two-time defeated finalist.
However despite our friendship we have hardly ever made a trade in fantasy sports. In our nine or ten years of playing against one another our numbers of trades was one – until today. The amount of trades discussed must be in three figures with over 250 hours of trade discussions – and that is a conservative estimate.
Trade one saw Neil H received Roy Halliday, Victor Martinez and Daisuke Matsuzaka. I received Brandon Webb, Ben Sheets, Joba Chamberlain and the rights to Yu Darvish. I think it is fair to say in hindsight who got the best of that deal and it wasn’t anyone who lives in the UK.
Anyway my roster this year has no fewer than nine players on the DL and out injured. My team is toast for the season. So I went public by announcing that I am selling and planning towards next season. I have fielded some offers but I knew that the likelihood of myself and Neil H coming to a deal were as remote as Tony Kornheiser going on a round the world flight for the sake of it.
However I woke up this morning to an offer from Neil H. The deal sees me give up Josh Hamilton – my best player without a doubt and who in my opinion when healthy is the best player in the game. For giving up Hamilton I would receive Matt Joyce and the rights to two high-end Starting Pitching prospects – Martin Perez and Manny Banuelos. I looked at it and it was a very fair offer.
I e-mailed Neil H that I thought it was very fair and that I was leaning towards taking it. Adding the two SP prospects to Yu Darvish in my Minor League set up gives me three potential front line starters. Joyce is the biggest surprise of the season so far and if he is for real then the deal made every bit of sense in the world and I accepted the deal and let him know.
His response when I let him know, ‘Seriously – you and I agreeing a trade on our first go round – presumably hell is freezing over as I type?’ sums everything up. It was so bizarre that I thought I’d blog about it – not that many fantasy baseball nuts ever read my blog – but if they do then they can let me know their thoughts.
Neil H leads 1-0 in terms of trades and something like 6-1-1 in UKL2 match-ups. I can’t recall our previous records against one another. There is a reason why he’s a smart businessman and I’m sitting in jogging bottoms watching Sussex v Somerset in the T20.
As for hell freezing over – the news that has just broken that Penn State and Pitt are to renew their football rivalry is definitely a sign that hell is getting rather chilly. Next thing I’ll be saying I’m in a relationship. Well maybe not.
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