BY TRAVIS MORAN
Tardy epiphanies are a hallmark of every epic tragedy.
It was sometime in Week 18 (of 20) of my fantasy season I realized how badly I’d bungled things up for my East Harlem Hustle. The revelations had gravity, especially on the heels of a climactic loss and the acceptance that my playoff window had likely closed.
Then, somehow, auspicious scheduling, and family fortune pried that window open just wide enough for hope to peek through. With a little more luck, and a victory over my brother’s Luscious Luka Triangle squad in Week 20, I’d be home free.
Yet, a simple adjustment to my thinking back in December, and I wouldn’t have had to steer the Hustle through that asteroid field and into Triangle’s teeth. Even with the major injuries, my team was built with depth in mind. But I hunted the wrong stats, and instead of optimizing my playoff position, I once again needed everything to go right.
Going into the regular season’s final weekend, everything was conspiring in my favor. One contender, Lincoln Railers, was failing miserably in his bye week and clearly would be out of the picture. My main threat, Trust The Process, was in a dogfight; he’d earn a hard-fought win, 6-5.
With a one-game cushion, East Harlem Hustle needed a win, plain and simple. In the event of a tiebreaker, Process had the edge.
On Friday, Hustle led 6-5. Saturday night, that slid to 5-5-1. Just as I was squeezing through that window on Sunday, my brother slammed it down, cut me in half, and laughed his ass off as I bled out, 7-4. When the dust settled around the league, Trust The Process had leapfrogged past the Hustle. My brother was quick to rub it in:
TRIANGLE: Better change your draft strategy next year.
HUSTLE: A few gambles.
TRIANGLE: Too many. Fire the whole draft room.
Luscious Luka Triangle was indisputably better this year, and that’s why my brother headed into the playoffs with a two-seed and a first-round bye. East Harlem Hustle, on the other hand, found itself in the consolation bracket—the land of obsolescence.
The other losers, for the most part, quit at this point.
TRIANGLE: Did you think anyone cares about consolation?
HUSTLE: Just playing it out for the data.
TRIANGLE: Of course you are. Pretty sure you’re all alone there.
The outcome no longer matters, but I’m still hungry for information. Plus, before it’s all said and done, I might even get a quick glimpse at the revamped Hustle at full strength.
But first, a look at where at least one person thinks it all went wrong …
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