Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reality is never as good as fantasy

To commemorate their 30th year giving husbands and excuse to not do whatever it is they were supposed to be doing, ESPN has been running documentaries chronicling sports stories that happened over the past three decades. So far they've ranged from the oddball story (the marching band for the old Baltimore Colts didn't disband after the team left for Indianapolis, but played on, including halftimes of other NFL teams), the story of how and why Wayne Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles from Edmonton and recently the trial of Allen Iverson when he was convicted for participating in a brawl at a bowling alley when he was in high school.

So when I found out they were doing on the history of fantasy baseball, I was as giddy as a school girl. The documentaries had all been really well done. Even the ones I didn't have a particular interest in were still captivating.

Unfortunately for me, Silly Little Game was scheduled for the same time as American Idol. Now normally I don't dislike Idol, and in the past I've even enjoyed it. But this year, the contestants suck. They make William Hung sound like Placido Domingo. But as luck would have it, Yes Dear had to work late, meaning I was free to spare my ears from whatever noise was going to be coming from the Idol stage.

But sadly, Silly Little Game did not live up to my expectations for a number of reasons. First, it was overproduced. Sure, it's a film about fantasy sports (which basically boils down to picking players and watching them perform, so it's not like there's a lot of action going on to make into a documentary), but the graphics and vignettes they used to illustrate their film was a bit much for me.

Second, and most surprisingly to me, was that I didn't really learn anything of substance that I didn't already know. I've not read extensively on the history of fantasy baseball, but I'd read a little and knew the basics of it's founding. I knew about Daniel Okrent who first came up with the rules. I knew that he's never won a league he's participated in. I knew that the tradition for that first league is to douse the winner in Yoo-Hoo instead of champagne. (Which, unlike the Masters, truly is a tradition unlike any other.) Basically, what the film confirmed is that I'm a nerd who knows far too much useless information.

Note: For a more interesting take on fantasy sports, I'd recommend Sam Walker's 'Fantasyland.' Walker was in the documentary, but the fact he'd written a book (which may be turned into a movie) about diving headlong into fantasy baseball wasn't mentioned.

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