Okay, so I finally made it to the finals in my fantasy hockey league. The league, called "Diplomatic Immunity Hockey League (DIHL)" has been a part of my fantasy sports life for the better part of four years now. The players/managers are all associated with the State Dept. in one way or the other and have served overseas as Foreign Service Officers (again, at some point or another). Its a good league, with a couple very knowledgeable and active managers. There are a couple homers in the league too - of which I am one (go Stars!).
In DIHL I routinely make it to the postseason in our league, and (frustratingly) routinely get bounced in the first round. Looking at my record, since joining the league, I have placed 7th three years in a row as a result of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Its like clockwork. Last year was especially disappointing. I led my squad to a near-victory in the regular season standing (which wins a trophy). I missed winning the regular season by one point. Yup, one point. I was cruising for the better part of the 2nd half of the season then went on holiday/medical leave to S. Africa for a week. There, I didnt have access to the Internet and, stupidly, felt confident my team could do their thing on autopilot for one measly week. Yeah, right. I get back, to see me lose in a heartbreaker. Then I get to the post-season ranked 2nd, and get creamed by 7th place. That, naturally, left me in my traditional 7th overall hole. Great. My choke is going down in DIHL lore as the greatest (worst) stumble of all time. Great. Worse, we draft the following year based on regular season standings, so while I finished 7th overall due to my crap-ass performance in the postseason, I finished 2nd in the regular season and drafted 2nd to last. Great.
My post-season perfomance in DIHL is the fantasy equivilent of this.
This year has been different. I dominated, again, in the regular season, with 30+ points between me and 2nd place (who, by the by, is the guy that beat me our for #1 last year). Fearing the worst, I prepared to get pwned in the first round of the playoffs. Miraculously, I did not. In the 2nd round, it was amazingly tight, but I won by a razor-thin score of 7-6.
Let me talk a bit about the 2nd round of the playoffs. I faced a team that plays a lot like I do. Together we probably accounted for 75% of the waiver wire moves for the entire league. We both have no compunctions about dropping slackers and picking up the most obscure hot-hands. So, we go into this past Sunday (the final day for the matchup) basically neck-and-neck (him 6 points, me 5 [which means he leads in 6 categories, I lead in 5 categories, and the others were tied]).
Sunday had him starting a goalie and probably taking the lead on a number of the goalie stats since I didnt have a goalie on my roster with a start that day. It sucked, but I figured I could make up those points because I had a couple extra offensive players starting on that day. I wake up on Sunday, check the score, and see my opponent craftily dropped a bunch of scrubs and picked up some hot-hands that specifically played that Sunday. I suddenly went to having a slight advantage in starting players, to a major disadvantage.
As luck would have it, my daughter woke up early on Sunday so I had a little time to see what was going on. With literally 15 minutes left before any additions would not be applied for the games on Sunday, I did some mad-crazy research, grabbed my own offensive ringers to play... and then divine providence encouraged me to also pick up Chris Mason, the backup goalie in Atlanta. Every place I checked said Mason was unlikely to start, but I desperately needed a goalie to start on Sunday and he was the only option on the waiver wire with even a prayer to start.
I got lucky. Mason started. Not only did he start, he won his game. Up 4-2 he gave up two painfully late goals and the teams went into overtime. Then they went to a shootout. It came down to a single goal... and my DIHL opponent had the guy facing Mason on the other end of the ice. I get the win, get an extra point in the hockey league - and that made all the difference.
Picking up Mason was the fantasy hockey equivalent of pulling my goalie with 5 minutes left. It was a desperation play - born of necessity and trading my possible future performance in the finals for a short-term gain to actually make it to the finals.
So, here I am. My team is gutted due to the need to pick up a bunch of ringers and I am facing the guy who took 2nd in the regular season (in other words, he didnt get lucky and got to the finals on the back of a very good team). However, I did what I had to in order to make it to the finals. No crappy 7th place for me this year!