It may have taken place in March, but I remember my fantasy baseball draft in the Cooperstown Classic League as if it were yesterday.
The league is 12 teams with rotisserie scoring, and I absolutely dominated the auction.
It truly was my finest draft of the season. I got a strong mix of both power and speed, built a fantastic fantasy rotation and walked away with all of my late-round bargains.
Expectations were high and the hot start in April only solidified my belief this team was destined to win it all.
The race to the top of the standings was a quick one early on.
My three biggest purchases — Ronald Acuña Jr., Shohei Ohtani and Matt Olson — were all doing exactly what was expected, while pitchers such as Zac Gallen, Justin Steele, Sonny Gray and David Bednar solidified both my starting rotation and bullpen.
But the key for me was found in the bargains, as Jarred Kelenic, C.J. Cron and Jorge Soler exploded, and Hunter Brown, Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen dominated on the mound.
But as in any other fantasy season, the injury bug flew in and feasted on many of my players. Cron, Springs and Rasmussen were all lost, as were Oneil Cruz and Thairo Estrada.
In addition, Gorman and Kelenic fizzled out at the plate, rookie Jordan Walker was shipped to the minors, and suddenly I found myself making it rain at Club FAAB just to maintain my lead over the rest of the league.
I was very strategic with whom I picked up, but I was also quite aggressive with my spending.
When the funds were depleted, I turned to the trade phones, scored some solid plays, such as Mookie Betts, and continued my dominance.
As the cliché goes, however, the fantasy season is a marathon, not a sprint, and as the calendar flipped to September, my lead has dwindled.
Acuña has hit a bit of a slump. Ohtani, Betts and a few others are now hurt, several role players aren’t delivering, and I lack the free-agent bankroll to add any up-and-coming hitters or pitchers.
For the first time since the second week of the season, I have fallen out of first place.
It is a lesson to be learned by those who play the game. It is not how you start, but how you finish, and pacing yourself for a six-month grind is imperative.
There is still a glimmer of hope should my current roster wake up and get healthy.
But a question to, and a quick shake of, my Magic 8-Ball yields a message of, “Outlook not so good.” At least my fantasy football drafts went well.
Howard Bender is the head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on X @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to Fantasy-Alarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.