Fantasy Baseball – A Place for the Absurd

Every time fall rolls around I tell myself the same thing. I’m done. Never again. I see through your guise and guile all too well now. In the spring, I was feverishly caught up in the allure of handpicking my own championship roster. Like an addict getting his fix, opening up that live draft room window was a high like no other. But that was before those onerous, long (losing) summer days began to pile up.

Every year it happens. I leave the draft room, utterly convinced that my team is already indomitable. It’s scary how freaking good my lineup is. After all, my sleepers are all going to bust out. It would never occur to me that my mid-tier and low-tier closers would all go to shit and be in AAA or on the 60 day DL by June. Those slick trades I made in April wouldn’t look embarrassing by July.
playing fantasy baseball
By August, every year, I resolve to never put myself through this stupidity again. But something strange happens every single winter. Every single February, I find myself back on that street corner looking for my fix. Something about pitchers and catchers reporting, headlines about my team’s exciting offseason additions, has me salivating for some competition. So it’s not enough anymore, to just turn on my team every night. Every spring, thousands (millions?) of grown-ass men across the country decide that it’s appropriate to reclude into an imaginary world where they are General Manager (or I guess VP of Baseball Operations nowadays) of a team compiled of real-life baseball players.

The names are real. The “stats” they accrue for my team are determined by real-life on-field outcomes. I can rationalize the sentiment that it would be fun to pretend that we can compile a fake roster of real players, and then evaluate and compete on how well we predicted player performance. But where it starts to feel absurd, is that sense of ownership we get when we obtain a player. If I pick up a name, say draft Nolan Arenado with my 1st rounder, a bizarre bond forms between the name printed on the screen and my mind. Do you hear the perverseness in this plain but matter of fact Fantasy statement: “I own Nolan Arenado”. Isn’t there something like a creepy voyeurism to an overweight, lonely middle-aged man sitting in his apartment, his heart racing at the idea that finally, he owns Nolan Arenado?

The reason, my best guess, that I keep coming back to that draft room every March, is that perverse emotional addiction to owning players/people. There’s a bizarre pleasure from seeing a roster of men’s names that belong to me. It seems strange and unlikely at first glance. But why else would I continue to sign up for my yearly virtual bludgeoning? Sure, there’s a sense of real competition. But that element of the addiction is also perverse.

“Hey, 11 total strangers! If all goes well, by the time I’m done putting in hundreds of hours of careful planning, I will have proven to you that I know more about predicting future performance of professional baseball players than you!”

What a rush. I’ll see you on draft day, bitches.

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