Watching sports is a way to escape reality if only for a short time. In those blissful few hours, we get to imagine ourselves pitching a no-hitter, hitting a grand slam, or stealing home in a tie game. We ourselves may not have the strength to arm-wrestle a kitten, but we can appreciate a great throw from the outfield. We may not be able to sprint 60.5 inches, let alone feet, but we applaud when the runner beats the throw to first.
But when the lights are off at the stadium and the tarp is on the field, we are forced to return to our regular lives until the next game starts. At least we were, until the advent of Fantasy Baseball. Now, when our favorite club is idle in reality, we can make up our own team of the best players available. We can bench the guy who got the golden sombrero in the big game yesterday. We can pick up some no-name free agent who hit the walk-off grand slam off an acclaimed closer. We sit in our cubicles while pretending there’s a sign that reads “General Manager” on our door.
To select a Fantasy Baseball team, some people put in hours of careful research. Others just go with their guts when draft time rolls around. I myself do a little research but mostly go by feel. I only have one rule: I never draft Yankees or Rays and rarely draft Angels. (Ok, maybe that’s three rules.) I don’t draft players from “enemy” teams because it just doesn’t feel right to benefit from their success. As if losing to the Yankees on Saturday night weren’t bad enough, gaining ground in my fantasy league because Teixeira hit three home runs would be like lemon juice in a paper cut.
When drafting, I debate long and hard with myself before selecting a Red Sox player. I hesitate to pick Sox because if they are struggling in “real life” it is like rubbing salt in the wound to have to bench or drop them. Owners of Ortiz and Beckett have a tough decision ahead of them.
When your favorite baseball team is not hitting it out of the park in real life, managing your fantasy team is at least a small distraction. And if you’re fortunate enough to be in a league with some friends, a nice round of smack talk can also take your mind off the standings.
Following a sports team is fantasy as it is. Following a Fantasy team is like fantasizing about a fantasy. We can all use a little more fantasy in our lives.