Friday, January 25, 2008

Ups And Downs In Real Life and In Fantasy (Basketball, That Is)

(Another installment of my column over at The Love of Sports. Again, not really so much about basketball this time. I try to compare the recent volatility of the stock market with the recent volatility in my fantasy basketball team's level of play. Real-world investing. Fantasy Basketball. Put 'em together and you've got one wild ride....Or something like that. - Note: The stock market has since recovered slightly from its lows at the beginning of the week. I wrote this on Tuesday. Give me a break, ok?)

What a difference a week makes.

This statement’s true not only in fantasy basketball, but also in the stock market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at its lowest point in 15 months. International stock markets from Hong Kong, to Germany, to India have suffered their worst short-term losses in recent memory.

The housing market knows no bottom.

And the strength of the dollar? Fuggedaboutit. You can barely buy a Coca-Cola in Canada with an American five-dollar bill.

But don’t panic! We must all persevere during times of economic (and fantasy sports) hardship. Better times are sure to be around the corner.

Remember, you sometimes have to endure wild swings of gains and losses in order to turn a “profit.”

In investing, that profit is literally money. Cash. Dough. Loot cakes. Mad Benjamins, etc. You get the picture.

In fantasy basketball, the currency of your “profit” is doled out in honor and glory - two valuable commodities that are the result of managing a successful fantasy franchise.

In either case, you need to chase that profit no matter what - if you want to end up in the winner’s circle at season’s end.

As an example of the vicissitudes we endure during the course of the fantasy season, my team, “The Centerfolds,” (composed of only the nicest guys around the league) demolished the competition this past week. We really socked it to ‘em. 8-1 was the final tally. The only category we lost was free throw percentage, and nobody really cares about that one anyway. It’s the red-headed stepchild of fantasy basketball statistics.

In stark contrast, the previous several weeks had borne witness to a team mired in mediocrity. Guys were hanging their heads in the fantasy locker room after some pretty embarrassing losses. My players were losing faith in the system - that being a system in which all players score as many points, grab as many boards, snag as many steals, block as many shots, and dish out as many dimes as possible.

Admittedly, this system - “The Rathmill Regimen” (trademark pending) - didn’t seem to be working very well.

But that’s why God created evolution - so that we, as humans, and fantasy basketball players, could adapt to various circumstances and environments.

As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

And, “I often wish my dog would evolve proper vocal cords with which to speak, so as to drown out the shrill and grating voice of my wife.”

Ok, that second one is not a direct quote. I’m just guessing he came up with that kind of stuff at cocktail parties. You know, in order to get a laugh. He was probably like a 19th century Rodney Dangerfield. Anyway...

Getting back to the world of investing, when the stock market is down, everyone knows you gotta buy bonds, stash cash in your mattress, or employ my own personal strategy - buy massive amounts of gold and oil, and hoard it in your garage.

I’ve got 20,000 barrels of prime Texas crude, just sitting around for a rainy day.

Adapt, evolve, and harmonize with your changing environment. That’s the name of the game.

The Rathmill Regimen has not been written in stone...yet. So I switched my strategy, and the results were almost instantaneous. First of all, I dropped Stephon Marbury. He’s completely useless after his recent injury. But even before undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs, he himself was like a big bone spur.....right in my eye, if that’s even possible. I hated myself for having him on my team, although it was just an experiment to see if his influence would hurt the morale and performance of my team.

Guess what?

It did.

Next, I focused on playing more guys who excel in several categories, but don’t really dominate in any. For example, Beno Udrih of the Sacramento Kings, and Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors. Both nice guys, and both team players. Perfect roster additions.

In summary, these small fantasy basketball investments have paid off in spades so far. I can’t predict what the future holds in terms of my fantasy team. All I can do is hope for the best, stay on my toes, and be ready to shift with the changing tides.

As for investing, just stick to commodities with great intrinsic value - buy oil, gold and iPods.

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