2019 Season Recap and Path Forward

BackdoorSliderz – Your 2019 Backyard Champs! 

September 11, 2019

NEW YORK, NY — So they say the best team doesn’t always win it all.  Sometimes it’s a Cinderella story, sometimes it’s a really good team that gets hot at just the right time, but sometimes…sometimes the best team is the hot team.  As the 2018 Redsox so forcefully displayed, that is a serious problem to anyone else who wants to win.  Only 3 other times in the history of the Backyard have we had a #1 seed take home the cup, proving that the championship ladder is quite a toss up.  Your 2008 River City Mashers rode a tidal wave of New York Mets and we thought perhaps the #1’s would rule the world forever…  It was a different time.  A happier time.

Some of us have long considered a regular season championship to be more impressive (Hey, anyone can win two or three games in a row!) than a bracket victory, as this league is a true test of endurance.  However, this season, Dochney and his Sliderz quite simply… broke the league.  Starting the season with a full rack at 9-0-0 was impressive enough, then he just kept going, and going, and going, until… he clinched a playoff spot with 7 weeks to go!  This type of domination is nothing short of shocking in the era of no-cupcake-games and a million roster moves.  If we hadn’t already switched to the balanced schedule, this would have been the most unbalanced year ever for the two poor schlubs facing him three times.  Greg and his #3 Trouts had a pretty nice season, and possibly completely burnt out beating your favorite Topes in Round 1’s 50-homer affair, but really had no hope at any point in the title game.   To cap it off, Verlander casually tosses a no-hitter (Seinfeld voice- ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) to send this 2019 team into the Backyard Hall of Fame as the #1 of all time.  Congrats to the new guy.  Two in a row.  Very well deserved.

Where Do We Go From Here?

No, I don’t think we need to revamp the league because Dochney coasted to 17-1 (thank you Sean for the sanctity of the league) and an easy championship over two good opponents.  However, I know we need to make some necessary changes to … err… Make the Backyard Fun Again??  As I see it, the number one problem right now is the drain on time and mental energy required to compete on a weekly basis.   We used to laugh when Lobman was making what we thought were a TON of moves.  His 209 transactions lead the league in 2009 and there were 7 teams that did not even crack 100.  In 2018 the least was a puny 231 with the median being 365.

So I have a question for all of you — Were we a Dynasty League then, or are we a Dynasty League now?

When I think of a Dynasty, I am envisioning a world where teams actually hold the players that they have.  Not just the franchise faces, but the “middle-rounders” that had we been still only keeping 10 at the end of the season, would be back in the FA pool.  One of my favorite things about the league is seeing a highlight or a player in person and saying… oh that’s a [insert team] guy.  He’s been with them for years.  And, in some cases, even though he is having a terrible year, Owner X just will not drop him because that is one of his guys.  When you see a Chris Archer or a Jean Segura dropped while in a slump even though he has been with the franchise for years… something just doesn’t feel right.  However, this season more than ever, we needed to fill the lineup card.  Having four open reliever spots on a Monday?  Six rostered bats and two of them are in a rain delay?  Might as well just give up!

Another factor currently driving managers crazy is monitoring their low minors and high minors guys, because ESPN will not do this for us.  Adding the minors was probably my best act as commissioner, you know outside of setting the roster construction, scoring, custom rules, weekly articles, an absurd video series, and oh so, so many more things… Wait where was I? Oh, right… high/low minors.  What are we going to do with this?  Personally, I love the minors element but I think the intent behind having them has changed.  It seems now the minors are just a way to get more guys into your daily lineup – Gotta have that low-minors SP reliever!  Even though he is complete SLOP and has one career hold.  I thought the goal of having minors was to be adding top prospects that will stay on your roster, or a roster, for a very long time and not just picked up for one day and dropped before they hit 130AB.

I would like to propose the following as it relates to both of these pressing issues.  We currently have 35 roster slots (25 MLB, 4 max high minors, 6 low minors).  I would like to expand that by 5 additional slots and eliminate the high minors, making 10 low minors guys mandatory.   In addition, the guys who are currently owned and not in the ESPN system would count towards the 10 low-minors.  I would also open up the rights list to be completely open and unlimited to how many non-system guys you can own.  If you want to have 10 rights guys, that’s all good.   Why should it matter if someone is in the system or not?  If they are in the minors, they should be minors eligible.  We should clear out as many roster spots as an owner feels is necessary before the ASB draft and then we draft rights guys until all of the slots are filled.

With 5 more bench slots, we would be taking, theoretically, the 50 best players out of the FA pool.  Or, at the very least, if your argument is 4 high-minors guys are going back into the pool, a minimum of a top 10 would be skimmed.  In practice, we know that most teams do not employ 4 high-minors guys and definitely not 4 guys who are all better fantasy options in the current year than guys on the FA list.  I am not trying to start a #WarOnFA, but it is sounding like that, I’ll admit.

Part of the reason why it make sense to expand rosters is that so, so many more players are fantasy viable now (Read: Everyone Has 30 Homers by MikeyT it’s a great book) versus 2008 or even 2016.  Looking back at 2008 the league leader in homers had 286.  In 2019, the two teams with the least had 278.  The depth is certainly out there.  Also, having more bench guys will allow you to fill those light Monday and Thursday lineups without dropping as many to do so.  At the same time, your opponent will be choosing from a diminished field of viable players likely to score against you.  We will just need to get used to the frustrating Sunday when someone on your bench homers. But, think of it this way, if they weren’t on your bench, where would they be?  On Waivers?  On someone else’s team?

Now, on the topic of Waivers.  We all know that adding a guy before roster lock and dropping him same-day will bypass waivers (Or, if you don’t know…now you know).  I think this got really out of hand this year and I am not too sure what should be done about it.  This is a topic that needs some thought and further discussion.

Fantrax or BUST!

There are many members of the league who have grown so frustrated with ESPN they spouted into curse-laden tirades on live TV.  Well, BackyardTV, but still live.  You know who you are (I know who I am).   Whether it be the missing players, missing stats, position eligibility, you name it, ESPN has been a problem and it got much worse this season.  However, perhaps some of the above changes will relieve some pressure.  Perhaps, the backlash is starting to get to ESPN, as they reinstated some of the historical information which was oh so unceremoniously erased, and we can live with it’s faults.  So many of the cool features of Fantrax (contracts!) would be really great if we were re-drafting and starting from scratch.  If it were up to me, I would wait until February to decide after we see the player pool, 2020 league rollout, etc.  Unless folks feel that we want to keep High Minors and Fantrax will solve our AB/IP limit problems.  I am open to discussion on the platform.

Looking Further Ahead

If we are considering switching platforms, what better time than now to consider changing a category?!  If there’s one thing that I am 100% stubborn on, it is changing any of the positions or scoring categories.  You know, sanctity of the league and whathaveyou. But, wait just a minute…

A question – Have CG’s become too powerful and gotten to the point that they are tarnishing our oh-so-important sanctity?  How measly do the CG numbers need to get before getting 1 in a week is an automatic category win?  In 2008 there were 93 Complete Games (NINETY THREE)!  93 on rosters and counted in the standings.  Sure we played 22 weeks then, okay, but still.  R-mac had 17 on the year. Five teams had 10 or more. This year the leader was 8 and five teams had 2 or FEWER.  Eight teams had 4 or fewer.  CG’s have dwindled to the point where we can expect one per month.  Far too many of those CG’s are “fake” being of the 8IP or rain-out variety.  So what are we doing here?  Should this category be replaced?  And, if so, by what?

Lastly, and I am talking to the fans of pitching again here… oh wait this is an empty room.  Hmm.

Well, we need to make Backyard pitching fun again.  Is the most fun thing about Backyard pitching getting that random SP/RP hold in a tight matchup?  That rando on Thursday night getting a magic 0.1IP W?  Is that really something that we even want?  I think Lobman said it best when he said, “When did this become a league where the teams with the better players lose every week?“.  Maybe I’m paraphrasing.  Or maybe that’s what I heard in my head when he was talking about something else.  I donno that night in Dallas was a little blurry… But the point stands.  Do we make CG’s a more usable stat?  We need to get out of the old generation and be on the forefront of fantasy leagues again.  If any league would have Clean Openers, Quality Bulks, shit that doesn’t even exist yet, it would be the Backyard.  Because that’s who we are and that’s what we do.

Thank You

First Thank You to everyone who is still playing after 12 years!  My goodness we are old.  Owners come and go, but the league keeps on rollin’…  More importantly, Thank You to a one Michael C. Odom for masterfully commanding the Commissionership for three wonderful seasons.  He brought a lot of new energy, content, ideas, and ushered in the most dominant figure in recent Backyard history (I’m talking about Dochney, not you).  Your contribution is greatly appreciated and we hope that you will continue in your capacity of Director of Creative Marketing and co-director of the Backyard Hall of Fame and Historical Library.




2019 Season Recap and Path Forward

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