If you know me, you know that I am a huge baseball fan. A lifelong Phillies fan, of course, and someone who played for and managed a local championship men's softball team for over a decade and a half. As I got a bit older, I retired the old glove and bat, and moved into the fantasy game. Fantasy baseball has been one of my biggest hobbies over the past decade, particularly with a 'Keeper' league of which I am a part known as the 'Whitey Fantasy Baseball League'. In this case, 'Whitey' refers to the man for whom the league is dedicated, Philly's own Rich 'Whitey' Ashburn. We have 16 players known to each other as GM's (general managers) of the 16 teams all league-owned. My own team, the Philadelphia Athletics, has been highly successful, having won 7 of the 11 pennants in my Paul Owens (East) Division, and one league championship during our history which began back in 1998. That first summer we stocked our team's for the first time with a Draft, and since then players have been exchanged over the years through trading and a waiver-acquisition process. We are permitted to keep between 16-20 players every year, so you can actually build a team and keep it together if you like. My first Draft yielded me Scott Rolen and Derek Jeter as my cornerstones, and I picked up later in the Draft such young studs as Billy Wagner and Andruw Jones. We have two divisions, my Owens Division and the western Connie Mack Division, with eight teams in each. Most of the current 16 GMs have been with the league for a long time, with four of us still remaining from that first Draft day and season. In the east there are teams representing New York, Boston, Alexandria, Carolina, Atlantic City, Middle Village (NY), Montreal and my Philly club. From the west the teams are in Portland, California, Jackson Hole, Alabama, Louisiana, St. Louis, Eugene and Spokane. The actual GMs are from all across the country as well. There are two of us from Philly, three guys from the Bayou of Louisiana, and the rest spread from the Pacific Northwest to the Cayman Islands and everywhere in between. Our ages range from 24 to 58, with most in their 30's and 40's. We utilize an even mix of offensive and pitching stats, making both sides of the game equally important, and we play a head-to-head schedule of 22 games, once each vs. the other division and twice vs. your own division rivals. It's now playoff time in the WFBL, and my A's finished in 2nd place in the Owens/East and so will open this week against the 3rd place Boston Bulldogs. My club has always been known as a pitching-first team, and this year was no exception as the A's staff was tops in the league led by Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee (pictured), Cole Hamels & Tim Lincecum in the rotation and closer Francisco 'KRod' Rodriguez. My offense features Chase Utley, Jose Reyes, Mark Teixeira and Grady Sizemore. Boston has a tough squad, one that the A's edged out in last year's opening round. Okay, it's only fantasy, but in our little 16-man world of nationwide friends, it's a big time of year. Here's to hoping that my A's put the stats together over the next few weeks to bring my 2nd WFBL championship to Philadelphia.
NOTE: On Sunday September 28th, after a three-week run against the best competition in the league, my Philadelphia Athletics edged the Eugene Emeralds by a 6-5 final score to win the 2nd championship in my history, the first since 2002.