What a Fantasy World

March 16, 2009


I would like to discuss a personal experience. I consider it personal experience, not in the sense that it was private or for that matter solitary event. In fact, we are dealing with quite the opposite here.

You might be thinking, “What are you getting at here Max? Why the pseudo-cryptic bullshit?” Which is, indeed, a fair enough question. But when you are dealing with the social wear-and-tear of being a fantasy baseball owner (which is what we are tackling here today) nothing is ever that straightforward or simple.

I have participated in fantasy baseball leagues for the last few years and I am not embarrassed to say that I buy into the stat-based hoopla. And I think I am pretty darn good at it. I make the right trades, I waive the excess baggage, and I pick up undervalued studs. I was born with a competitive streak and fantasy baseball is as good a place as any, on the Internet at least, to channel this type-A energy.

Like knitting, calligraphy, or actual baseball for that matter, fantasy baseball at its core is a hobby. But unlike more traditional hobbies, loved ones rarely care to hear about your fantasy baseball experience. I guess bringing up the fact that you snagged Carlos Delgado in the fourteenth round of your draft (oh how the once-mighty have slipped) isn’t considered an acceptable dinner conversation. Or pillow talk for that matter.

I sort of understand the distinction between traditional hobbies and fantasy-induced obsessions to a certain extent. To someone on the outside looking in, knitting a blanket is cute and endearing, staying up until 3:01am to scoop up a recently released free-agent is, dare I say, weird. Something still bothers me about this dichotomy though. My parents showed up to every single one of my sister’s community theater performances but never once bothered to sit in on one of my drafts. Now that is going to leave a psychological scar.

About seven million Americans participate in fantasy sports on an annual basis. With my oh-so keen eye, I have came to the two following conclusions: while the overwhelming majority of fantasy baseball owners want to talk about their fantasy experience, very few fellow owners actually want to hear about someone else’s experience. Blame it on narcissism.

And this is what bothers me about fantasy sports culture. There is no actual support system. Sure there might be Yahoo messages boards or 12 hour ESPN chats but offline, it is a pretty bleak and asocial landscape. And I guess you can have a conversation with the fellow owners in your league about your respective teams, those conversations usually devolve into hyper-masculine bragging sessions. You rant about your team’s low WHIP the other guy goes on and on about his squad’s batting average, but neither of you really listen to each other. Not. Very. Productive.

I would like to see fantasy baseball talk be accepted as an everyday social discourse. I truly believe with that stamp of a social approval, the fantasy owner’s lot would be a happier chipper and bunch. In the ideal alternate reality, the following scenario will occur at a local cafe of sorts:

Me: Hey, can I get the usual?
Local Barista: One small latte, coming up. So how is that fantasy baseball team of your?
Me: OhMyBaumgarten – that is our name. Yeah, we are doing fairly well. Teix is having on heck of a week. And how is your squad?
Local Barista: We have seen been times. Mid-season injuries are killing us.
Me: Well you know what, I heard about some hot prospects, I will e-mail you the insider info when I get home.
Local Barista: Thanks man – you know what? This latte is on me.
Me : Very much appreciated. Give the wife and kids my best.

I am not asking for too much here – my goals are fairly reasonable. (Maybe?) Let’s accept and embrace fantasy baseball talk, one conversation at a time.


One Response to “What a Fantasy World”

  1. Andrew Says:

    The problem with your thesis is fantasy baseball just takes too long. Its awfully easy for a baseball season to get bogged down in its own boring nature, esp in the dog days. If youre team isnt doing well come July, there might be time to turn it around, but it is just as easy to call it a day and get ready for your fantasy football draft. On that note, I could definitely see something close to your proposed dialogue happening with fantasy football. Shorter season, (not really that) arguably more popular sport, and easier to monitor, what with the one game a week. It would make for a good debate as to what is more impressive, winning fantasy football or fantasy baseball, but in the end, I think we all are winners because of fantasy sports.

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