Co-managing Expectations: The Genesis of the Senators

This is a new feature about co-managing a fantasy baseball team with my brother that will run each Friday from now until the end of the baseball season. There will be bits of statistics and advice sprinkled throughout, but this series is intended to be more of a narrative than anything else.

My little brother is smart. I want to say that right off the bat, because I'm about to give you a piece of information that might make you think otherwise. The other day, John took Joey Votto first overall in a mock draft we were doing together, despite my strong hints that he should reconsider. To be clear, Votto isn't the worst guy one could name with the first pick; after all, he's not going to be available in the second round. Still, the pick goes against conventional wisdom, and if there's one way to describe John when it comes to fantasy sports, it's unconventional. When he likes a player (for example, Kosuke Fukudome), he's going to get him, no matter what round it is (it was the first). Over the years, John and I have participated in more than a few leagues together (always on separate teams; you'll just have to trust me when I say that we've never colluded), and no matter how many times I've tried to explain positional scarcity or average draft position, his relentless desire to grab the shiny player he covets a few rounds too early somehow always seems to take over. That's always been fine with me, because it's his team and not mine. Now, it's not just his team anymore. That worries me just a little.

Perhaps I should back up. The reason John and I were doing a mock draft together is that he's smart, like I said. Just under a year ago, I started writing for Fake Teams, and apparently that development legitimized my advice in my brother's mind. Maybe I do know what I'm talking about, after all. (Then again, maybe I just lucked into this gig because I'm not afraid of FIP and can string a few sentences together without vomiting on myself most days.) No longer were my friendly suggestions unsolicited and unwelcome. He was calling me, not just for baseball help, but football as well. One time I asked him if he'd seen the state of my own wide receiver corps. He hung up. Still, when spring came around, we started doing mock drafts. The smart thing wasn't that he was coming to me for help. It's that he was seeking help at all. You can be smart and not know anything about how to draft a team, but smart people know how to adjust. John was adjusting.

After the Joey Votto draft, we were decompressing and reviewing our teams as always, and I was telling him how much I hated his pitching staff, when it hit me: This was a one-way conversation. Maybe my brother has something to teach me, instead of the other way around. Maybe I've spent so much time assuming I'm the expert here that I haven't been listening to anything he has to say. That's when I asked him if he wanted to co-manage a team.

I've never co-managed a team before, and I didn't realize how hard it was going to be. The season hasn't even started yet, and already I feel uneasy about giving up my independence. Am I really going to have to text somebody else to get approval before making a simple add/drop? Do we pool our pre-draft rankings together, or should we each take responsibility for half of the positions, then just fight it out when I want a third baseman and he wants relief pitcher? Once the season starts, who will be responsible for setting the daily lineup? Will we have to come up with rules that we rigidly follow, like never play Kevin Youkilis on the road against a righty, or will we each have license to be creative whenever it's our turn to call the shots? How are we going to settle disputes when one of us wants to ride out a slump and the other wants to cut bait? Are we even going to be able to agree on a team name?

I can answer that one. We eventually settled on the Senators, a tribute to the predecessors of our Texas Rangers. Next week, when I review our draft, I'll tell you all about the other team names from our league. A lot of geniuses in that group.

I hadn't even considered most of these things before I actually agreed to share my hobby with somebody else. Truly, I think that's why I decided this crazy idea might just be worthwhile. John and I used to share a room, but I left home 10 years ago. Other than the summer that he stayed with us instead of going home to Mom and Dad, we haven't seen a ton of each other since. Technology makes it easier. We can text or jump on Xbox Live or whatever, but it's been a while since we joined forces to try to accomplish something. It's funny, because ultimately, fantasy baseball is meaningless, especially in the free public league we joined. It's still an endeavor I take way too seriously, and I imagine that if you're on this site, you do too. The reward for doing well will be a tiny virtual trophy that nobody will ever see, but to me, it feels like we're chasing more than that. If I may be cheesy for a moment, that trophy represents our friendship. The challenge will be winning one without losing the other.

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