There's more than one way to lose
Matthew Berry [ARCHIVE]
December 9, 2011
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As we begin the fantasy playoffs this week in most leagues, I am reminded of my favorite fantasy playoff story ever.

It was Week 15 of the 2005 season and Redskins tight end Chris Cooley was playing. Not just in the NFL, but in the semifinals of his long-term fantasy league. Cooley has played fantasy with his buddies since high school and that year, for the first time, had managed to reach the semifinals, a huge accomplishment for him, given the nature of trash talk that went around between him and his longtime friends.

That weekend, Cooley had the best game of his professional life, as he caught three touchdowns in the Redskins' 35-7 victory against the Cowboys. But it was also his biggest heartache. Because Chris' opponent in the semis that year started a tight end named Chris Cooley. Guess who won that matchup?

We all remember where we were when Brian Westbrook took a knee instead of walking in for a touchdown (also against Dallas, also Week 15) in 2007. It was the difference between winning and losing for thousands of owners. But perhaps no Westbrook-induced loss was more painful than the story of a Wall Street guy who plays in a million-dollar league with other financial titans. That knee cost him $600,000.

Randomly, just Thursday, Brian Westbrook was here at ESPN doing a bunch of interviews and we chatted a bit. He told me, even four years later, not a day goes by that someone doesn't talk to him about that play and how it either won or lost them a fantasy game. I told him about the 600K guy. He just shook his head. That was a new one, even for Brian.

Heartbreaking though it is, I love reading stories like this. We've all been there. And we should be grateful that the fantasy gods smiled upon us to get us into the playoffs. I mean, if you're reading this, I'm guessing you're still alive. So my hearty congratulations and thanks for taking me along on the ride.

But I'm not just about advice. I'm also a virtual shoulder to cry on. So I asked the gang that follows me on Twitter to give me their best bad beat story. Many, many variations of "I had the most points and didn't make the playoffs" along with tales of stats corrections and lots of stories about going against a player that just completely went off (Pierre Garcon? Percy Harvin? Demaryius Thomas!?!). Way, way too many responses came in to publish them all, but here were some of my favorites, complete with the unfortunate soul's Twitter handle.

Twitter Amnesty

So, I got a ton of fascinating reaction to my Twitter amnesty column last week. First, I unblocked about 50 people and many more than that donated. Lots of people wrote to say they weren't blocked but wanted to donate anyway, which I loved, including Adam Mesh, who gave $250. The whole thing was terrific, which is why I have decided to extend it until, well, we find a cure for cancer. Again, just make a donation to, send me the receipt to and tell me your Twitter handle. That simple.

Two quick thoughts after reading a bunch of replies to my blocking people. First, while many agreed, some felt I was too quick with the trigger. And I agree. I am. "What I wrote wasn't so bad" was a familiar refrain. Also true in many cases. But, to speak to both points, I don't judge negativity. Like, oh that was only a four, so no biggie, but this guy was a six, so I'm blocking him. If it seems you're not a fan, that's fine, but you don't need to follow me, right? I've got enough followers and there are plenty of other options for fantasy advice for them. So ... ka-block. In addition, I get, well, a lot of tweets. Search @matthewberrytmr on a Sunday if you care. So if I see a bunch over a certain time frame I just have the attitude of "no time for negativity," regardless of the degree of it. It's also less about that one tweet than it is the 10 that came before it. And plus, the more I block, the more people that will donate to get unblocked, hopefully. Anyway, thanks to everyone for their kind notes and more importantly, their donations. You guys donated thousands to Jimmy V and that, frankly, is kinda awesome.

@DanFXC: Lost by .6 because Dallas iced their own kicker.

@bradhensley :What about a simple pic? Could have sat my D/ST and won. He missed playoffs by 1/2 game. (Included was a picture of the Giants' D/ST's -10 points against the Packers, and the final score of 107-98.

@wmcmillan6: Went to sleep up .9 after MNF (in the) 1st round (of the playoffs) last year. Stat update: Browns +1 sack = I woke up down .1, final. Crushed.

@shimonmds: Last week I lost to someone who started Peyton Manning! Needless to say, neither of us are making the playoffs.

@hartleysworld: 2009 I'm No. 1 seed need 8 points with Marion Barber. He gets 47 yrds/14 RUSH, 22 yds REC and stopped 4 (times) in a row on 1 yard line.

@Mestblinknfggc: Down by 1.6, PPR, M. Lewis catches it, puts me up by .2, then fumbles. That was the end of the scoring for both teams.

@shaine_69: We have yardage bonuses at 100, Fred Davis at 99, Romo at 299, CJ2K knocked me out of playoff contention by last place guy.

@blairCmcdonald: 103.40 - 103.15 in Week 4. Eli Manning takes a knee 3 times in final minutes in win versus Arizona. Lose .3 and the matchup

@DucalCrownRalph: Easy. Last year, down by 4.5 in semifinals, AP sits out MNF, can't add anyone. Ended up 3rd, shoulda won it all #badbeat.

@majorleaguenerd: Week 3 SNF, Ben kneels to set up field goal. minus-2 rush yards. League scores to 2 decimal places. Lost by 0.08. Missed playoffs by 1 game.

@Mawam: League didn't allow pick-ups after Thursday night game, Prater injured in practice on Friday. Lost by 2 points

@UpperRDL: Finally got the GF to play. She's picking 6th, I'm 7th. Wanting to be sneaky I tell her to draft Aaron Rodgers so I could get Vick. Doh!

@MatthewBerryTMR: Of course, I also got many variations of ...

@drdaswani: My worst beat was I read your column and stretched for Vick and Gates on draft day. :)

As I said above, I love stories like these. And not just heartbreak stories. But any fantasy story. Fantasy stories about obsession; guys who have drafted their teams from the delivery room, from a funeral and, once, from the Situation Room at the White House. Yes, that Situation Room.

Crazy bets, insane rules, hilarious league traditions, bad beat stories and impossible victories. People who have gone to jail over fantasy disputes, the lengths we've all gone to make a fantasy league transaction before the advent of mobile phones, the craziest trade stories and any of the "shake your head" moments we've heard of, or committed ourselves, in the name of fantasy sports.

It's because of that that, Thursday morning, Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Group USA, announced a new book to the...
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