The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Fantasy, Fantasy, Fantasy!

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No no no. This blog isn’t about what I’d do with [redacted] if she was up for [redacted] with [redacted] whilst wearing [redacted] and melted Mars Bars. Oh no. This is about another fantasy. Fantasy baseball. I have written before that I’ve been told that writing/talking about your fantasy team with people who aren’t in your league is amongst some of the most boring things that one can do but yet here I am and after a dramatic few days in my fantasy baseball league I think its worthy of a blog post.

In recent years I have totally scaled down my fantasy sport commitments. This year I have one fantasy football team and one fantasy baseball team and that is it. The fantasy baseball team is in a keeper league where we hold over half our major league players and half our minor league players each season. This is the eighth season that I have been in this league and I have yet to win it and have only appeared in the final once and the playoffs on two others occasions. However this year was different.

For most of the season I was seeded fourth and cruising into the playoffs. The top six make it. Yet with four weeks to go in the season I got a shellacking and went down 11-3 and dropped to the seventh seed. I lost the next week 6-8 but managed to have a big win in the penultimate week and that meant I basically had to do two better than the sixth placed team in the final week – so if he won his match-up 8-6 I’d need to win mine 10-4 etc…

Now my opponent was up against a long time friend and my friend did his job well and come Sunday I’d have to win 7-6 to qualify for the playoffs and things were tight. Several categories were tight and at various points throughout Sunday I was in and I was out. It was 6-6 and I had one players going in the night game that could win it for me. Aroldis Chapman the Cincinnati Reds closer. However I needed him to get a vulture win as I had saves locked up. I had already gotten a vulture win earlier in the day from Mariano Rivera but he got one as well. Disaster.

As the final pitch of the Major League Baseball season was thrown I was out of the playoffs but by the time that at bat ended the Fratton Yankees were in. I had done it. The Reds won it in the bottom of the 9th and Chapman was the winning pitcher of record. Rejoice. I woke up to a tweet from my friend who simply said as I had signed off Skype with the only thing that can save me was a vulture win from Chapman, ‘a vulture win like that you mean? Chapman gets the W!’ and boom boom boom. I was seeded sixth and would face the commissioner and third seed in the first round of the playoffs.

The commissioner has a fine team but over the past two years I have fluked wins against him in every single match-up. So the draw wasn’t bad for me. I lead the match-up most of the week but on Saturday I inexplicably left my star starting pitcher on the bench. He pitched great and I was livid with myself for just seemingly forgetting to make him active. Had I pitched him I would have won both QS and ERA and comfortably win the match-up but as it stood I was up 9-4 (with one tie) but he had three starting pitchers to go and several hitting stats were still tight.

By the time Masterchef Australia was in full swing I was down 5-7 (with two ties) and looked done but my Fratton Yankees are a resilient bunch. His starters were only able to grab ERA and lead QS but they couldn’t muster a win between them so I kept wins. Then my starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann pitched terrifically and tied up QS again to make it 6-7 and suddenly his batters were stinking the joint up and Batting Average was getting closer and closer and suddenly I was ahead there, up 7-6. I had one batter left to go and he was in a rain delay so I couldn’t take him out of my side. I did the maths and knew he could go 0/6 and I’d win but 0/7 and I was done. He went 0/4 and I survived to play on.

This week a rematch with the side I beat 7-6 in the final week to make the playoffs. I have a string of injuries but I’m still alive and after the first day I lead 12-0 but six more days and lots will change. The strange thing is my team are I think a year or two away as my minor leagues are full of top class talent that will reach the bigs in the next year or so. Miguel Sano, George Springer, Billy Hamilton and Lukas Giolito will be my minor league keepers and all of them have a real possibility of being significant impact players over the next few season’s. With the likes of Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig and Buster Posey already anchoring my my lineup and Jordan Zimmermann and Yu Darvish anchoring my rotation I might be a decent side for the next few years but my 2013 season is still going and I’ve wasted over 900 words talking about it.

I despair at myself and so should you.

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Written by neilmonnery

September 17th, 2013 at 11:40 am

Posted in Fantasy Sports

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There is only one thing more boring than fantasy sports – telling others about your fantasy team

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Oh boy…

Many years ago I kept a journal and one of my ‘friends’ who read the journal decided one day to tell me exactly what she thought of me. She basically said my journal entries were dull and therefore had an opinion that I was just too boring to know. Nice of her. Her main issue was the fact I wrote a fair bit about my fantasy baseball teams. Well she left my life many years ago but fantasy baseball did not. I am still involved in a fantasy baseball league that I have been involved in since 2005 – the same league. Personally I think it is a better hobby than getting into online betting and certainly a lot cheaper too but ho hum.

So we are now well into the fantasy season and it is Week 10. I have won seven match-ups, drawn once and lost once. I am currently the #3 seed and surprising a fair few people with the strength of my squad. I was tipped to be outside the top six this season by the league but I’m hanging in there.

My strength has been a solid and deep starting rotation. Yu Darvish and Jordan Zimmermann are true aces and I expected them to be as such. I had some trade interest in both but I swatted it away. Beyond them I had CJ Wilson and AJ Griffin left over from last year. I have since added a rejuvenated Ubaldo Jiménez and John Lackey. My seventh SP though is reigning NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey whom I recently traded for despite not exactly being a big fan of the player.

The reason I traded for him was because I had a log jam. At 3B I had a strong Aramis Ramirez and I had picked up Josh Donaldson who was having a career year. However the bigger problem was I had Manny Machado in my minor league system and I had to promote him. So I managed to trade Aramis Ramirez away for RA Dickey to open up 3B for Manny Machado, who is fast becoming one of the best players in Major League Baseball.

My hitting is middle of the pack with Buster Posey holding down the catchers spot and then Ryan Howard at first. Chase Utley is my 2B but is currently injured so Freddy Galvis is starting and at short Derek Jeter is down so Alexei Ramirez is starting. At 3B is the aforementioned Machado. In the OF I’m weak with Dexter Fowler, Colby Rasmus and Brett Gardner stumbling along but I have Yasiel Puig and Billy Hamilton sitting in the minors for next year and when you throw in Miguel Sano is there as well then I have three legit impact bats ready for 2014 and beyond.

Finally I am currently sitting at four closers with Aroldis Chapman, Rafael Soriano, Glen Perkins and even K-Rod closing games. So there we have it. This is why the 2013 incarnation of the Fratton Yankees are doing better than anticipated and this is why I got called dull and boring by a girl what eight or nine years ago. I wonder what she is up to these days…

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June 3rd, 2013 at 11:54 am

Why quitting fantasy NFL has renewed my love of the sport

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For many years I have been a fantasy sports junkie. I have had fantasy football teams obviously but never was able to stick at it due to my terrible initial selections and I just couldn’t be bothered. Throw in Fantasy F1, Fantasy Basketball, Fantasy NFL, Fantasy Baseball etc… and you’ll see a deep rooted pattern.

However I made a decision this year to change this up and cut my teams down to just one – the Fratton Yankees in a fantasy baseball league that I have been a member of for now seven years and that would be that. I won a fantasy NFL league last season which was good fun and all but fantasy games are there to make the game more exciting they say – just like betting. Incidentally you can click here for online betting at Top Bet.

My issues with fantasy sports though are I found myself watching the players and fantasy stats more than I did the game itself. This season I have been able to just enjoy the games and root for the teams that I want to root for. I don’t have to think ‘oh I want the Broncos to win but I hope Peyton Manning stinks as my opponent has him’ and that is the type of issue you have fantasy wise.

With my fantasy baseball team practically all the games are in the early hours so I see so few live so it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the game but also I have been part of this particular league for as I said seven seasons. That is one of the main reasons I have stuck with it. I even have kept the same original name even though deep down I wanted to change it to the Fratton Yankee Posada’s in homage to the now retired and borderline Hall of Famer Jorge Posada.

Going back though to the original concept of this blog post I can now sit back and enjoy a game of American Football for what it is. I’m not concerned about those stats and whilst I can see why many believe it enhances their enjoyment of the game – remember this is a multi-billion dollar industry in the States – for me I can be more of a purist and just watch and enjoy a game.

Last year was a strange year for me as I had no real rooting interest. My team stunk (and still does) and after a few years of rooting for the old man quarterback (Kurt Warner, Brett Favre) last year I had nothing. At least this year Peyton Manning is back and looks like he can do something and I have been rooting hard for him and the Broncos. Apart from that though there aren’t any storylines that are grabbing my attention and yet I did don’t miss the fantasy aspect of the game. Maybe it is just a down couple of years for me NFL wise (although the Jags are coming to the UK next season) but at least the college game has been insane. Notre Dame being the only undefeated team in the country? Not sure anyone saw that one coming…

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November 18th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

and the Thorpe Bay Billy No Mates survive!

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Who could have seen this coming six weeks ago? The Thorpe Bay Billy No Mates looked like toast. After a stunning first week massacre of the Goat belief was high in the camp but then a run of only one win from six led to a 2-5 record and the only hope of making the playoffs was to win out.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well that makes you in the majority – a heavy majority.

The Thorpe Bay Billy No Mates are my fantasy NFL team in the ESPN league ‘Twitter Tw@ats’. My draft was awful in retrospect. Javhid Best got concussion and is out for the year. Ryan Grant just never got going. Chad Ochocinco never made it into Tom Brady’s good books and Austin Collie got nothing from whoever was playing under center for the Colts as it wasn’t Peyton Manning. So basically both my starting RB and WR stunk and the dream was over.

Or was it?

People said I had given up. So I decided to really stan the waiver wire and see what could be done. Plaxico Burress was on my bench and he came in. I still had both Tom Brady and Philip Rivers in my QB/Offensive Player positions and had two great Tight Ends in Antonio Gates and Aaron Hernandez although they both faced injury issues in the middle of the year. I picked up Reggie Bush who started to play great and I was cobbling together wins.

In week eight the first win of the six needed came – 98-65 over Scotter Steelers. Thanks in large to a 28 point performance by the Lions Defense. It was a start but before I could dream of the promised land I needed to at least get to .500. The next week I came against a team who would eventually be good enough for the playoffs in Grant Holt’s Moustache and triumphed 123-96 thanks to a breakout day from Julio Jones as well as Reggie Bush’s coming out party. Next week the Portsmouth Pirates went down 93-69 and it was on.

Then came week 11 and near disaster. A 79-77 win over Pompey Giants and that match-up was still in doubt heading into Monday Night Football. He led by 11 and had the Chiefs QB. I had Tom Brady. I was without a doubt the underdog by Tyler Palko’s stinky night led to him only getting three points and Tom Brady amassed 16. A skin of the teeth victory and now two wins and I was in.

The Yorkshire Pudding’s put up a great fight in week 12 only to go down 98-91 and then we come to this week. I was down by 12 heading into Monday Night Football. My oppo the Malicious Penguins had the Chargers D which scared me. I still had Philip Rivers (who had been a bust in all honesty all year) and Antonio Gates still to go. I thought the Chargers D against the stinky Jags O would score real points so I thought Rivers would have to remember he was Philip freaking Rivers and go to the vertical passing game. Oh boy did he.

Rivers threw for three scores and over 275 yards for 23 points and a 103-88 result ended the regular season. From fighting for last place I have made the playoffs and a two-week match-up against the 10-3 MileHigh Orangesquash who have been as dominant as any fantasy NFL team I have seen. Still my boys have been on a roll and I hope to make it interested. I need to see my players play at the top of their game. We’ll see how they do but whatever happens my slogan for weeks on my Tuesday morning twitter feed and in my Tuesday morning e-mail to the other Neil (the fitter, more athletic, more important businessman type one) has been ‘and the Thorpe Bay Billy No Mates…’ with the e-mail just saying ‘…survive!’

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December 7th, 2011 at 11:58 am

Posted in Fantasy Sports

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Neil and Neil make a (fantasy baseball) deal

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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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June 14th, 2011 at 7:51 pm

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Today is the start of summer – the baseball summer

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Now if I go to the window and look outside I can see the ground is wet. I’m wearing a hoodie inside the apartment. Clearly it is not warm outside but today is officially the start of summer – in my world anyway. Despite yesterday a couple getting married in the snow at Busch Stadium – the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, today is the start of the Major League Baseball season and the start of America’s favourite summer-long drama.

At 6:05 BST this evening I shall be settling down on the sofa to watch the opening game – my New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees having been bounced out of the playoffs in the American League Championship Series last year are looking to regain the World Series crown they won in 2009 but they will not start out as the favourites. With Boston having brought in AL MVP candidates Carl Crawford via free agency and Adrian Gonzalez via a trade, it is the Red Sox who open up as the AL faves. In the NL the Phillies have a rotation for the ages with Roy Halliday anchoring a staff that also includes Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Joe Blanton is also in the rotation but no-one seems to care about him as he’s not great – unlike the other four.

Now obviously whilst what goes on in real life is important – today also marks day one of the long fantasy baseball season. This year I am in five leagues. Four of them holdovers from previous years. It is the sixth season of UKL2, a league where I’ve made the playoffs twice and made the final once – only to be beaten by the evil banker and my long-time friend Neil H. This year my squad looks ok but I wouldn’t place me up there with the favourites. Two years in a row of poor results have left me feeling jaded but when the season rolls around hope springs eternal.

It is also the fifth year of the Dynasty League. Another league I’ve not yet won despite dominating it in its inaugural season only to lose on the final day when AJ Burnett crapped the bed in a start and cost me ERA and the league in one foul swoop. The most depressing part of that? I traded him away and have since traded for me back. Luckily this year is the last year I have him contracted for so this should be my last year with him. This team I feel great about. It is good enough to make the playoffs and has a chance of winning it all.

Next up is Pete J’s league named Cider for Toddlers. A league I have won twice – in 2007 and 2009 so it should be my turn again, right? This teams looks good on paper. Deep rotation with power arms and a nice lineup that should be competitive. The lineup might just be my most balanced (I’m known for being power heavy) so we shall see.

Fourthly it is the baseballfan.co.uk official leagues and I’m in division one and I’m also the reigning champion having won the league last year. That draft was on Sunday – my final draft – and it took forever and a day. I drafted second in the snake which is never good. I seem to have missed out on a premier 1B which is very unlike me. However it’s not my worst team ever and again should be ok on paper. Is it title worthy? Meh. Last year I was bottom after six weeks and adrift but still won at a canter. So patience is a virtue.

Lastly I entered a Public League this year for the first time in years and got the best team on paper I think I’ve ever had. The team is stacked and balanced. If I don’t dominate and win this league then either my players are having a very bad year or they got injured. Even Pete J who normally criticises my teams at every possible juncture was impressed at that team – certainly when he saw I had four closers as well.

So there we have it. People always say the most boring this to hear about is another persons fantasy team so apologies.

To end I’ll just say that Cameron’s comments on Ed Balls during #PMQs yesterday are pretty much spot on.

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March 31st, 2011 at 11:11 am

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Fantasy Baseball – My Dynasty Squad

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Just a quick blog about on my hobbies in the summer – fantasy baseball. I am already locked into four leagues for this season and with Yahoo allowing eight per Yahoo ID this year then the possibility of me playing more is high. I’m in one dynasty, one keeper, one re-draft h2h and one re-draft roto. I am the current champion of the UK MLB Division 1. Not too shabby although my other teams didn’t have great years back in 2010.

So on to the dynasty league as this team is already sorted. The keeper I’m in the middle of the offline draft – we are in Round 17. The dynasty roster is 25 man, 6×6 scoring (OPS and Holds the extra stats), a $280million budget with mL rosters as well. I’m well under-budget and have no closers but the rest of the roster isn’t too shabby. I’ll drop Begine Molina and pick up a FA Util guy when the season starts as they’ll be no debt – the same with Jesse Litsch.

Let me know your thoughts on my roster.

C: John Jaso – 3/4

C: Jorge Posada – RFA – 1/10

1B: Adam Dunn – 2/21

2B: Brian Roberts – 2/12

3B: Aramis Ramirez – 3/15

SS: Tsuyoshi Nishioka – 4/5

CI: Justin Morneau – RFA – 1/22

MI: Alcides Escobar – 1/12

CF: Josh Hamilton – 1-$8

OF: Austin Jackson – 1-$1

OF: Matt Holliday – RFA – 3/26

OF: Curtis Granderson – 1/18

OF: Curtis Beltran – 3/12

Util: Bengie Molina – 1/4

Pitchers

SP: Carlos Zambrano – 1/6

SP: Gavin Floyd – 1/3

RP: Koji Uehara – 3/1

RP: Rafael Soriano – 3/6

P: Ian Kennedy – 4/4

P: Ricky Nolasco – 2/10

P: AJ Burnett – 1/6

P: Phil Hughes – 1-$8

P: Brian Matusz – 1-$1

BN: Jesse Litsch – 1/1

BN: Jake Peavy – 5/5

Dollars Spent: $221m
No Debt
Contract Years 50/50

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February 13th, 2011 at 4:04 pm