“Nobody’s ever made it their first jump.” “I know, but what if he does.”
– Tank and Mouse discussing Neo and the jump program in The Matrix
“Les jeux sont faits. Translation: the game is up.”
– Jeffrey Jones as Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
For years, I wrote article after repetitive article about how much I despised fantasy football, listing the reasons I never played it. I always felt concentration on one fake, personalized lineup took away from team allegiances we grew up with and made a sorry, desperate nation of overweight sports fans who knew little about the game itself think they could actually run a team. Not to mention, listening to a guy babble endlessly about which bargain he nabbed in the ninth round of his draft was enough to make my ears bleed.
After a season of playing fantasy football with close friends in a well-run league, however, I realized those were the things I should have embraced about fantasy all along. Thanks to an invite from the Ice Cream Man and his merry band of fantasy geeks, I gave fantasy football a shot this year and became exactly what I despised.
It was at that moment that the Midnight Meat Train was born.
The following is a brief but grateful story about heartbreak, obsession, a season going down to the final play and the best $200 I ever spent.
Our draft day back in September went as you might expect: beer, chicken wings, laptops, hootin’, hollerin’ and round after godforsaken round of Jameson shots with Jameson chasers. At the end of the day’s proceedings, I felt happy about my draft, running back heavy, a few gambles here and there but in the end, no one knows which players will perform, which will surprise and which will end up on the operating table. Sure, there’s some research involved but it’s still a crap shoot. Game of skill, my ass!
Overall, my roster avoided injury for much of the season, my only serious loss being San Diego’s wide receiver Keenan Allen. But I still had enough talent to get me through.
The Train went on to put up some points. I even won high score two out of the fourteen weeks, earning back some of the money I invested in the league.
Fantasy football fit well into my obsessive, compulsive and clearly disorderly lifestyle. After a long Friday and Saturday night at the office, I groggily stumbled from bed to sofa right on time for the one o’clock kick offs. Religiously glued to the points my lineup would garner me with every snap, over coffee and in boxers, was a Sunday well spent.
Headed into our final week, The Midnight Meat Train was 7-5-1 and desperately needed a win to make it into the post-season. Win and I was in, lose and it was a long nine months to draft day. As I did for much of the season, I debated over which quarterback to start, Eli Manning against the Dolphins or Matthew Stafford against the woeful Rams. Even after doing a fair amount of research, I was still asking complete strangers on the street their opinions in the matter. That’s what fantasy does to a person. It makes blathering idiots of us all. I had lost all sense of rationality, not that I had much to begin with.
I started Eli. He had done me well all season long. It was the sensible play. The only problem was that my opponent that week had a huge lead headed into Monday night. I was pretty much toast. I needed 42 points for a tie, 43 points for a win.
I paced while watching Eli amass point after point but alas a missed field goal from the kicker who was also on my roster sealed my fate.
And so, the Midnight Meat Train was derailed. I missed the playoffs… by a goddamned point.
It was a debilitating loss, the kind that makes you lose sleep wondering what you could have done differently. Only if. There was no sports radio on the drive home from work that night, no highlights the following morning. But that’s why we play fantasy and that’s why we watch sports.
Without sports in our lives, there would be no heartbreak. In a life full of bad beats, one must simply learn to play again. I plan on doing just that.
In the end, it could have been one of any missed field goals, dropped passes and unbroken tackles that cost me the season. And so it is.
I must confess. It’s only been a few days and I miss it already, knowing I won’t be able to waste precious time mulling over which of my running backs to start. It was a season full of nail-biting, trash talking and endless text Sundays. But the most fun was the camaraderie it brought not only the gang in my league but the countless others I spoke to that played fantasy as well. Those silly ads are right. Fantasy does give us something to talk about, albeit somewhat meaningless and entirely contrived, at least we’re talking.
To the commissioner, the Syndicate, the Mexican, WC Thunder and the rest of the gang in the league, rest assured the Midnight Meat Train will be back.
Now how long is it again until next year’s draft?
You have drank the proverbial kool-aid sir (grape flavored), and it was good!!
It was most definitely good, Black, except for that bitter fucking aftertaste.
I don’t know if I mentioned this but early in the year I had one team who came from behind to eek out a 112-111 win. The only problem is the NFL can change the stats from a game for like six days and the next thing I know my exhilarating win I was celebrating for two days became a tie. My history has been littered with stories like yours but I never had un-won a game two days after it ended. Always something new in Fantasy and now you’re hooked too. I have all three teams in the playoffs but one of them is playing the wife’s team. Things around the house are cordial…so far.
Well until certain states agree or disagree to the merits of Fantasy Football , I will leave the subject matter alone. It creates about as much interest for me , as a call from the ex-wife.
MLB continues with its own form idiocy in some ways with the decision concerning Pete Rose , but then again , the decision hurts Rose and adds to his infamy.
So nice of Rajon Rondo to show us all what a complete fu@##ng moron he just happens to be as well as showing the NBA’s hypocritical stance when their menial one game suspension of the point for his conduct seen as detrimental to the game. The NBA has been about as all- inclusive and socially aware as the KKK might be, with their continued views on minorities.
Kudos to the referee who basically stood up to Rondo’s homophobic tirade and then just acknowledged he was homosexual and proud of that fact ! Nothing like seeing and putting down a homo-phobe and showing why the league remains cesspool of indifference ran by a bunch of clowns , which includes the the players’ union also. No one from the NBPA has sought to call out Rondo for his verbal abuse of the referee and the league’s actions itself just shows how out of damn touch they remain on a whole slew of social issues.
We should get a few of us bloggers to form a fantasy league next season.
You have any interest in being commish?
I heard about the Rondo story, Al.
Surprised not surprised.
And what was up with the Rose story? Why did it even come up again? Did Manfred make a ruling? And why was anybody surprised at the outcome?