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Fantasy Baseball Futility

May 17, 2008 - John Whittaker

I'm in three fantasy baseball leagues right now.

Two of the teams are just for kicks, with work friends. They're head-to-head, one was autodrafted, and I honestly think I check them twice a week or so.

The third league, though, I really care about.

I check the league site on two or three times each day -- because the standings change a lot between 9 a.m. and noon -- and keep track of the bottom line on ESPN every night to see if any of my players have done anything notable. Since it's almost June and I'm in a tie for seventh place, my players don't pop up on the bottom line often enough.

At $40 a year for league dues, I could have bought something like 50 DVDs, taken my fiance to dozens of nice dinners or bought that game-worn Don Mattingly jersey I saw online with the money I've spent on this league. I might have even been able to afford to see Bruce Springsteen in Buffalo both times he played the HSBC Arena.

Judging from the early results, this year, like most others, I don't have a snowball's chance of winning any of my money back. If my buddy Finn had any compassion, he'd tie my team to a post in the back yard and beat it in the head with a shovel.

So, why do I keep doing this to myself?

Some people need fantasy sports to give them a reason to follow the game. I love baseball, and have since my grandfather and I watched our first game together. The News Gal and I watch about 90 percent of the Yankees games on ESPN and the YES Network. I'd watch games until 2 in the morning every day if I could do it and remain engaged and employed.

No, this isn't about the game of baseball, or even the thought that I know more about the game than most people. I do, not that it helps me in the league standings.

No, it's something deeper. Finn, Hendu, Diva, Teddy, Palms, Irgs and Conti, I'm looking at you.

Nothing beats draft day, except maybe for my wedding day, when it happens.

I count down the days to the draft every year like a 10-year-old counts down to Christmas. This year, I took a week's vacation BEFORE THE DRAFT so I could put players statistics into a database with a weighted formula to tell me who to go after (my list apparently sucks, by the way) during the seven hours we're filling out our rosters.

Adam and Tory have hosted the draft the last three or four years and put on an unbelievable spread every year. The one-liners fly fast and furious. Jokes carry over from year to year -- for example, ask anyone in my league about who kept Tony Womack and Jake Westbrook in consecutive years. It may have been me, but I'll never admit it here!

When we were younger, people would bring beer to the draft. One year, we finished it at a bar. Now, we bring Gatorade and Pepsi.

You do your best to keep in touch as people get married or move out of the area, but it never goes as well as you hope. As you get into your career and the rigors of life pull you in a million different directions, you see those old friends less and less.

I guess that explains why I keep torturing myself with fantasy baseball. Saving money for a wedding, I might not be able to spend a week in Rhode Island with Dennis and Laura (who are first and second in the league right now) or, with both of us busy with jobs and families, I might not be able to hang out with Teddy (one spot behind me in the standings) as often as we used to.

We don't play softball together like we did five years ago. We haven't played beer pong together in almost a decade. Before he stopped playing with the band, we'd all go to see Conti play guitar and sing with the PBD.

As we've gotten older, those days are behind us. But, we'll always have fantasy baseball.

To that I say, Play ball, boys and girl!


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Hitting in the Yankees' lineup didn't make Tony Womack a very good keeper for me a couple of years ago. It's still a leaguewide joke.