OK, sure. I’m only playingfantasy baseball. It’s not like it’s fantasy football orsci-fi soccer(yeah, I just made that up, but doesn’t it sound awesome?). Not only is baseball a snail-paced sport, but because of the daily games in baseball, I have to keep on top of things every freaking day for like 5 months. Or is it 6 months? Maybe that makes it more hardcore. The 1st 2 years I played fantasy baseball I got so into number crunching, I made graphs. Baseball Stat Graphs! I even updated those graphs periodically throughout the season (yeah, I like stats). I mean, they didn’t really seem to help me because I never ended higher than 3rd place (though I flirted with the lead a few times as late as August), but I enjoyed comparing players’ stats and it seemed to enhance my fantasy baseball enjoyment.
Last year I missed the deadline to sign up for fantasy baseball with my group and I was disappointed, but more than anything, I was actually relieved. I felt like I’d kicked a terrible drug habit, like heroin or smack or angel dust (I have no clue what those last 2 are). On weeklong camping trips when I was playing and far away from a computer, I’d find excuses (groceries, laundry, Taco Bell) to drive the 30 minutes into town and hit the library so I could check my fantasy team and make little adjustments to the roster. Maybe bench or trade a slumping player. I’d eat up the latest stats and try to catch some live games. I’d even drag my laptop along to discover I’d found probably the onlyStarbucksin the world without WiFi. It was a compulsion. Then, when I wasn’t playing, it was as if I suddenly, miraculously, had free time to do other things like exercise, read classical literature (Bill Bryson), and chat online with non-fictional women that I totally didn’t just make up. The air was fresher. I slept better at night. I lost almost 40 pounds (I’m not sure how all this is related). I’d poured so much time every day for months into my fantasy team that I wasted possibly hundreds of hours I could have spent readingDon Quixoteor socializing with humans. Yes, not playing was a relief.
But here I am again. Another year. Another fantasy baseball league. Actually 2 this time. Dangit. Both named Moose & Squirrel. My buddy Roland, who lured me into the previous leagues, got me into it again this year at the last minute with his friends inTaiwan. Jerk. He’s my fantasy crack dealer. I thought I’d escaped. Once I’d succumbed to the lure of one league, I remembered my other college friend Brian had been asking around for people to play in his league. So later that afternoon I decided, what the heck. I’m already doing it. I might as well have 2 teams. I could even experiment with drafting techniques and discover some clever strategies. The draft is like some weird fantasy Christmas, at least in our leagues where you wake up early after the overnight auto-draft (or race home after work) to see what goodies were left for you in your Easter Basket under the Christmas tree (of course that sounds a little weird when you remember the “goodies” are the players).
Somehow, playing fantasy sports even makes me feel a bit manly. It’s the stuff guys talk about when they don’t actually play sports. I suppose it must be like having a second life in one of those role playing games likeWorld of Warcraft(minus the hot orc-women). I know I’m only playing fantasy baseball, the lesser of the sports fantasies. I haven’t yet played fantasy football, which is apparently more manly, but less involved, and I feel pretty left out at the office when all the guys gather around Randy’s desk to discuss passing percentages, season ending spinal injuries, or linebacker stats that are pretty meaningless to me, and I consider playing the next year, but I don’t. I tried to talk to a few of my friends at work about fantasy baseball, but they just gave me vacant stares. They only do football, so we have little in common. They also have families. I don’t even see the guys I’m playing with.
Fantasy sports allow guys to bond in a special way, talk a unique language. Of course women play, but really it’s mostly guys doing the fantasy stuff (I’m sure there’s someFreudianthing you could take from that). And however boring baseball might be compared to football or basketball (I do enjoy them both), baseball is still my native sport, the one I most grew up with and I have a soft spot in my head for it. I still have boxes full of baseball cards I collected when I was younger. I’ve been to a few major league games and have gone hoarse rooting for theSF Giants. My mom and her sisters, the biggest sports fans in my family, have their awesome childhood story about visiting Willie Mays‘ house and getting his autograph on the same day they accidentally saw theBeatlesin San Francisco, but they didn’t care about the Beatles (that always bothered me). I even pitched a near perfect game in HS intramurals that was pretty awesome (for a small private school of fat kids). There’s something about the crack of the bat on the skull…ok, no. That’s something else. Anyway, pray for me.
Happy Birthday to my brother Jay! May he live long and prosper!
Update: Congratulations to former Nebraska Cornhusker Ndamukong Suh on being the 2nd overall pick in the NFL draft! The Detroit Lions made a great choice.