My fantasy baseball draft is coming up this weekend, but I won't be there. I won't be there because I will be at Carter Beckford's second birthday party. And that's okay. I mean, I think I'm going to go see all my buddies tomorrow night, so I won't miss out on that part of the weekend. And the actual draft is fun, but my team won't be any better if I'm there. After all, I suck at fantasy baseball. And since I'll probably be mentioning my team along the way, I thought I'd post an article I wrote for our fantasy baseball web site at the end of last year. At that point, I was in dead last, immediately behind Chuck Saponara's girlfriend. Here's my explanation:
It’s a crisp evening in the fall of 2001, and I’m standing in my shower--drunk--considering the possibility that I suck at baseball.
Roughly two hours ago, Noah Wishau, a Shrek-like freshman about whom I remember almost nothing except that he had massive fingers, was doing his best Sandy Koufax impression when I told him that I was going to pitch the last inning of our intrasquad scrimmage. Wishau had held our opposition to a single run in the fourth game of our Fall Ball World Series, but my senior year was going to be the year that I emerged as our closer, and as we were nursing a 2-1 lead, this was my opportunity to prove it. Moments later, after putting two runners on base, I served up a splitter to Luke Hagel that he hit 900 feet into leftfield. I left the field, stopped at Piggly Wiggly to pick up a 6-pack of Leinenkugel’s, then locked myself in my apartment and guzzled down the Leinie’s. The bottom line, I decided as I took a sip from my beer and felt the steam rise up around me, was that I was a bad, bad baseball player.
Six years later, I retroactively forgive myself for serving up the gopherball to Luke because I have come to the conclusion that no matter how bad a real baseball player I was, I am twice as bad at fantasy baseball.
So I got myself a 6-pack of Leinie’s, climbed in the shower, and tried to figure out why I suck at fantasy baseball. There are 3 reasons:
1. I don’t work during the summer. I am currently in 1st place in one of my fantasy football leagues and 2nd place in the other. And this is largely because the first thing I do when I get to work every day is spend half an hour doing research. Because I have nothing better to do. But from June until August, I have better things to do (i.e. lying on the couch, eating pizza for breakfast, etc.). If you do a little checking, you’ll find that I was in the top 4 teams in the league for the first 2 months of this season, but as soon as I stopped spending my day in front of a computer, the bottom fell out.
A subreason here is that I’m lazy. Obviously, I have computer access at home. I just don’t usually feel like checking my team. At one point this summer, Hagel posted something about how he had searched to try to find a computer but ultimately been unable to make a change to his line-up one Saturday morning and therefore lost points because a positional player on his bench had had a good day. (The details of that story may be fuzzy, but that’s the gist.) I thought, Wow. It would never occur to me in a million years to put that much effort into a line-up change. Anyway, I think that guys with regular jobs have a huge fantasy baseball advantage.
2. In fantasy baseball, it’s really hard to dig yourself out of a hole. I read an article this summer about how 6 weeks into the season, it’s almost impossible to make up more than a point or 2 difference in any particular category. I had suspected as much because no matter what I did to my team--and I did legitimately try for a while there--I would end the week in roughly the same place where I began the week. If you were going to make a jump, you would really need to know what you were doing. And the subreason here is that I don’t actually know what I’m doing.
3. Barry Bonds used steroids. Seriously, I couldn't care less about professional baseball. It's just not possible. Now, I played and I currently coach baseball, so I care about the sport. I just don’t care about it at the professional level. It’s possible that it’s because I don’t really enjoy watching it when I don’t have a personal stake in it, but I have an alternative theory, and it has to do with Prison Break. The Fox show Prison Break began in the fall of 2005, and I loved it. Watched every episode, and spent the whole week waiting for the next one. I hadn’t been this excited about a television show since Dawson’s Creek. But then, the American Idol season began, which meant that there was a 3-month gap between the beginning and the end of Prison Break. And when it started again, I was busy with baseball, so I missed a couple episodes. And everyone knows that when you miss a couple episodes in the middle, you sort of lose interest. So now I don’t watch Prison Break anymore.
I think that everything that’s happened in baseball between 1985 and now has had one irreversible negative impact on the sport. It has screwed up the two things that are most important to professional baseball: history and numbers. I used to like baseball because it was the only sport where you could reasonably compare players across generations. (This obviously isn’t the only reason I liked it, but it was a part of it.) And now that’s not true because I don’t know what’s real and what’s not. I’ve heard people say that Bonds would have hit 750+ bombs if he hadn’t touched steroids because he was awesome before that and steroids don’t help you hit a baseball. And I think they’re right. But I’ve also heard people say that he wouldn’t have even broken 600 because his body would have broken down five years ago, and I think they’re right too. The bottom line is that I don’t know. So I kind of have to ignore the last 20 years. It’s like I missed a couple of Prison Break episodes, and even if things get cleaned up (which they might), I’m not going to be able to get back into it. And as long as I'm not into it, I will fail as a fantasy baseball owner.
And if you think that that last paragraph was just an effort to justify the fact that I’m lazy and uninformed and that that’s really why I suck at fantasy baseball, well, you're probably right.