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League of Losers


by Leland Cheuk

Gents,

It's been a long winter in more ways than one, and I know I haven't spoken to many of you since the end of last season when I hoisted the League of Losers pennant for a record-breaking 4th time in our fifteen-year history. I hope all of you have sufficiently licked your wounds, and I hope you and your families are doing well.

The last several months have been a rollercoaster of emotions for me, and I wanted to share my experience with my Chi brothers.

On December 9, my first son, Johnson Wong III was born healthy and strong. Thirteen weeks later, he continues to bring unspeakable joy to me and my wife Maryanna.

On December 19, one day before my 38th birthday, my younger brother Barry passed away unexpectedly in his home. Two days prior to his death, Barry had a diagnostic colonoscopy performed to confirm a Crohn's diagnosis. He was sent home following the procedure and went to work the next day. An autopsy revealed a perforation in his bowels that led to a fatal infection.

Barry was my idol. A few of you have had the privilege of meeting and spending time with him. He was an accomplished musician, painter, and filmmaker. Yesterday, I attended what would have been his 34th birthday party. When I saw his enlarged picture on a foam board, I thought this could not be happening to me. Had my wife and kids not been there, I would not have made it through the day. I miss Barry with an intensity I never knew possible. Millions time worse than back in 2003, when I lost the League of Losers championship on the final day thanks to my horrific decision to spot start Jose Lima versus Esteban Loaiza. Only 18 months ago, I was the best man at Barry's wedding. All the clich├ęs are true and then some. Life can change in an instant. Cherish each moment you have. Don't take any day for granted.

Barry is survived by his wife Michelle and their 3 children (Marjorie, age 6, Timothy, age 3. Kristi, age 2). Please consider making a contribution to the Barry Wong Family Memorial Fund (link in PDF attached). It would mean a lot to me.

Your friend and defending champion,

JW2

Johnson Wong II

Director, Partner Relationship Development

Google

* * *

Guys—holy shit. How do we respond?

El Hays

* * *

Tried to make a donation, but the link is broken.

Gordon Rodriguez

Vice President, Global Accounts

JP Morgan Chase

* * *

Should we send him a note of condolence?

Theodore

* * *

Managers—I think our donation/condolences/response should come from the league as a whole. What do you guys think? I can draft a response and run it by everyone. Perhaps we can dedicate this year's winnings to Barry Wong's family?

The Commish

* * *

I don't know about the rest of the managers, but there's NO way I'd support donating this year's prize pot. In fifteen years, we've NEVER discussed donating the pot to anyone other than the winning manager for ANY reason. The Schmitt Schlitt's Mitts has finished no lower than 3rd in the past three years, and our roster of keepers has never been stronger. My staff of Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, and Yu Darvish, ALL on discount deals make me a clear favorite this year. I'd understand that, for other managers, donating the pot seems like the honorable thing to do, but I guarantee you those managers aren't favorites for the title this season. Honestly, I don't even think we should put this dumb idea to a vote.

No offense, Commish.

Bob

* * *

Jesus, JW2, my thoughts are with you.

You are still playing this year, right?

Chang

* * *

Thanks, Chang. I was wondering where everyone went.

Of course, I'll be playing. I need to do some normal things to get my mind off what has happened. I think Barry would want it that way. He was never into sports much, and sometimes I feel like maybe I paid too much attention to sports when I could've devoted more time to connecting with him.

If I'm you guys, I see an opening to the title this year. I don't know if I can give my franchise the attention it needs.

Good to hear from you!

JW2

* * *

JW2—congrats on the new baby. Now that you have a kid, I hope you'll be unable to concentrate on managing your team. HAHA!

I'm interested in a pre-draft trade for Max Scherzer. I've put together a SWEETHEART deal for you. Go into ESPN and check it out!

Let me know!

Bob

Schmitt Schlitt's Mitts

* * *

You gotta be fucking kidding me, right? Five guys you're going to cut anyway for an AL Cy Young Winner?

JW2

* * *

J—We're sincerely sorry for the loss of your brother. We've decided as a group to donate $20 to Brian's family through the link you sent. The League of Losers's prayers are with you at this time.

On a personal note, I got a chance to meet your brother that weekend in Vegas at your bachelor's party. Even though I didn't get any of the cultural references he kept making, I found him to be an incredibly nice guy. I still remember the lap dance he got for both you and me at Cheetah's. Wow, remember Nikki Day? I still see that girl in my dreams (and sometimes on the Internet J). Anyway, hard to believe that Brian's gone. Very eerie when someone is so clear in your memories to think that he doesn't actually exist anymore.

Separately, I've donated another $5 in my name.

Good fucking luck this season. We're all dedicating this year to Brian. I've changed the name of the league on ESPN to League of Losers: Brian's Song.

Best,

Commish

Arnold Tell

Managing Director, Derivatives Trading

UBS

* * *

HOLY FUCK, Arn, JW's brother is named BARRY, not Brian. I thought you were going to run a draft of the message by us!

Bob

Schmitt Schlitt's Mitts

* * *

Omg I'm an idiot

Commish

Sent from my iPhone

* * *

Attention to detail is why Big Motherfucking Rally Mongers are always near the bottom of the league.

Gordon Rodriguez

Vice President, Global Accounts

* * *

I'm glad we were able to send Barry's future generations to school with our $20 donation.

Theodore

* * *

Fk, I'll draft a new one and run it by everyone. I work at UBS. We're used to damage control.

Commish

* * *

Commish—Forget it, man. I'll send something and blind copy you guys. I'm the only one here who has any humanity left.

Best,

Chang

* * *

JW—I'm sincerely sorry about Arn's email. That guy is seriously autistic. That or a sociopath. Maybe both. I'm also sorry about how long it's taken for me to reach out to you personally. My favorite memory of Barry was day 2 of your bachelor's party when I said I didn't like to gamble, and Arn and the others were making fun of me like no tomorrow about how I was a shitty Asian and all that. Barry never partook. I think I was tired of the ribbing by like the first hour of the first day. He and I were standing in line for the bathroom at Hooters and he said quietly, out of nowhere: "I hate gambling too. I don't know why an Asian not gambling is so funny to everyone." That's the type of guy Barry was, right? No bullshit. You know better than I.

Please let me know if I can do anything to help during this time of grieving. I'd fly out to New York in a second. You know I'm here for you. At least, I hope you still know after that fucking travesty of an email by Arn. I have two brothers; the three of us are also very close. Don't know what I'd do without them. Can't imagine the pain you're going through.

Your bud,

Chang

* * *

Hey man -

I really appreciate your note. Thanks for thinking of me. For the past three weeks, I've been wondering whether to continue on with the League of Losers. I guess on top of losing my brother, I've begun to wonder whether we're all actually friends. I didn't receive one phone call, not one text. A bunch of you stood with me at my wedding as groomsmen. I guess that's what it means to grow older. You have your own jobs in your own cities with your own families, and our friendship just becomes something that happened a long time ago, when we were different people.

I know I tend to be really effusive and passionate about our fantasy league, and you guys probably think I'm that passionate about the rest of my life, but I'm not. I'm just a cowardly corporate whore who reserves his risky moves for a game we play on a computer. My brother put his heart out there every day of his life. In every piece of work he did, every relationship he built. He didn't have Plan B's like the rest of us. He ended up sacrificing a steady living to do what he loved. Ultimately, he sacrificed his life because he could only afford care from a substandard hospital.

But guys like us? Guys like the League of Losers? Nothing bad ever happens to us.

I'm really glad you got to know him, even if it was just for a short time.

Still bros,

JW2

Johnson Wong II

Director, Partner Relationship Development

Google

* * *

Gents,

Thanks for doing what you can. Look forward to kicking all your fucking asses during the draft this weekend.

The Defending Champ,

Johnson Wong II

Manager and Owner—The Wongtowers




BIO: Leland Cheuk is the author of the novel THE MISADVENTURES OF SULLIVER PONG (CCLaP Publishing, 2015). He has been awarded fellowships and artist residencies including one from the MacDowell Colony, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Salon, The Rumpus, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, [PANK] Magazine, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Margins, and elsewhere. He is also an assistant fiction editor at Newfound Journal. He lives in Brooklyn.