Fantasy Baseball 2010: Stephen Strasburg, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez

Backstabbing. Rejections. Trash talking.

It’s not a reality TV show; it’s my fantasy baseball league.

Stephen Strasburg’s first start for the Washington Nationals was as hyped as any baseball debut in the last 20 years. His arrival into my fantasy league was equally dramatic. One manager, Lee, was unaware that you could add a minor leaguer to your roster. Griffin, also a manager and Lee’s good friend, made him aware of this, saying he had planned to pick up Strasburg later that day. Except Lee, armed with this new knowledge, didn’t give him a chance: He picked up Strasburg that instant.

Of course that is Grifin’s version of the story. Ask Lee and he’ll tell you he respectfully avoided picking up Strasburg, giving Griff ample time to make the claim. When he failed to act, Lee jumped at the chance.

Strasburg has been in Lee’s starting lineup ever since, and much like Strasburg’s real-life team, Lee’s squad is in last place. That’s mostly because players like Andy Pettitte, who’s been on the DL since mid-July, and Geovany Soto, who’s been out for the last couple of weeks, have also been in his starting lineup for most of the year. Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona has hit a rough patch lately, but it doesn’t affect Lee’s team: Carmona hasn’t come off the bench since June.

Lee isn’t alone in his disinterest. I’m sad to report that only three of the eight teams in my league have been active from the draft until now. Perhaps even sadder, two of the inactive teams are in first and third. I’m in fourth as I write this, but the standings are tight enough that by the time you’re reading this I could be in second. Of course that’s not saying much given that I’m only competing against two active teams.

Two of the inactive teams have co-managers, which means two people are ignoring their rosters. One of these teams is managed by my younger brother and his friend. Although their team is close in several pitching categories, they failed to move Felix Hernandez or Tim Hudson off the bench for recent starts. They missed a complete game one-hitter by Toronto’s Shaun Marcum last night.

In third place, currently ahead of two active teams, is The gators. Perhaps the most interesting team in my league, neither of the two co-managers have bothered to do much of anything since the draft. In late May they finally dropped Rich Harden and minor-leaguer Aroldis Chapman. In late June they made a couple more pitching changes.

Other than that, nothing. Manny Ramirez has been in their starting lineup despite two very long stints on the DL. The gators have three bench hitters, but never make substitutions on off-days, so those players are worthless. Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen came up in conversation recently, and one of The gators’ owners chimed in. “I love him,” he said. “He’s on my fantasy team.” The problem with this statement? I drafted McCutchen and he’s been in my lineup all season. Keep in mind that I trail this team in the standings.

For unknown reasons, my co-manager and I both targeted Jeff Niemann before the draft. We got him in the 23rd round and he’s been stellar, posting 10 wins, a 3.12 ERA and 102 K’s. (Credit: daysofthundr46)

Two of the other active teams have taken advantage of the league’s apathy and amassed an abundance of closers. My friend John has a whopping nine closers on his team. Another manager has five. In fact, three of the teams in my league own 20 of MLB’s 30 closers.

Both of these guys love to pull the old “offer and drop” technique as well. They’ll offer, say, Curtis Granderson in what seems like a lopsided deal. You’ll turn it down, and the next day Granderson will be available as a free agent. No, there’s not much pride in my league.

If I’m going to air my opponents’ dirty laundry, it’s only fair I admit to my own sleaze. During a fellow manager’s birthday party, my co-manager and I took advantage of his inebriation and offered Mark Reynolds — and his .212 batting average — for Alex Rodriguez, the No. 3 overall pick. Our friend shook on the deal, though he wasn’t too happy when we made the official offer the following day.

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