Every year a group of friends and I spend a few hours online drafting fantasy baseball teams and spend the summer managing (errr . . . micromanaging) my team in the vain hopes of winning nothing but bragging rights for the next year. And every year, my wife asks me why I'm doing it with the crazy thought that I might stop playing.
I spend hours obsessing over my fantasy teams - named the Fighting Squirrels for reasons which I'll write about at a future time - (which is different from spending hours obsessing over my fantasies). Who should I draft with my 6th round pick? When do I take a closer? When is the appropriate time to subtly mock the other people in my league for their most recent pick? (The answer to the last one is 'always,' even if you wanted the guy the person just picked.) But for what? When the season is over, what do I have to show for myself other than not finishing in first place (again) and more knowledge about the Texas Rangers' bullpen than my wife's favorite flower (I think it's daisy, but it could also be tulip. I don't think it's roses.)?
On one hand, there's the increased knowledge of baseball teams, their players, and their relative strengths and weaknesses. Granted, this knowledge isn't exactly marketable. There's the season-long camaraderie with friends who have moved to various places across the country (one league I'm in stretches from Indiana to the southern part of Georgia.) And in all honestly, the only time we ever talk is during fantasy sports season, so it's nice to catch up with them, even if 90 percent of the conversation consists of trying to get his starting shortstop for a bag of magic beans and a crappy starting pitcher). I've also learned about the advanced metrics being used to evaluate baseball players (ERA+, VORP, UZR, and a plethora of other alphabet-soup inspired acronyms.) The downside to this is that very few, if any of my friends are also into this, so I don't get to discuss this new information with anyone. (The plus side is I can brainwash my son with this and make him like the kid in the ESPN Radio commercial from a few years ago.)
On the other hand, well, I'll spend countless hours watching games, reading websites, evaluating players (in an elementary level compared to people who know what they're actually doing) all in the empty pursuit of interweb glory. (To be fair, I'd probably watch games, read websites and evaluate players even if I wasn't doing fantasy baseball.)
On the third hand, fantasy sports has led to my most popular running segment of my blog . . . the fantasy update. (For those new to my blog, look for the fantasy update starting the week of April 12 . . . also note that each fantasy update is just a paragraph or two long, there won't be weekly blog updates detailing my fantasy teams.