I have played fantasy baseball for a long time.
My dad and I first co-managed a team way back when we got online using dial-up and signed in through Prodigy. (Holy crap that sounds like a long time ago.) For what it’s worth, we won that league, and I’ve played fantasy baseball every year since.
While I am excited about the mainstream acceptance that fantasy sports have attained, there are still prominent segments of society (read: most women and assorted douchebags) who look down upon those of us who enjoy fantasy sports. I have heard these massively misinformed people refer to me and my fantasy sports loving kind as “losers”.
Well, for any guys out there who are questioning whether or not they should sign up this year, I’m here to tell you that fantasy baseball is not for losers. Quite the contrary. In fact, I bet fantasy baseball provides benefits that most of those condescending women and douchebags never even considered.
This post aims to set the record straight and ensure that you, my fantasy baseball playing brother, register proudly and confidently for your league(s) this year.
1. You don’t have to just live and (mostly) die with your crappy “real” team
If you’re a fan of the Cubs, Indians, Royals, Pirates, Blue Jays, and a handful of other teams, you already know going into the season that you have a greater chance of marrying Heidi Klum (and remember, she’s already married) than seeing your team win a World Series.
Having a fantasy baseball team gives you a reason to stay interested in baseball past the month of June, when you otherwise would already be lamenting the fact that you root for a loser…and questioning what exactly that says about you as a person (hint: that might be a loser). Plus, if your baseball fortunes rise and fall only with the fortunes of a crappy, hopeless team like ones mentioned above, it can make for a pretty salty summer for you and your loved ones.
More importantly, it isn’t just the MLB teams that enter the month of March with a fresh, positive feeling every year and dreams of September glory to come. You harbor these very same feelings, because it’s a new season for you too. And whether the Yankees or the Cubs are the “real” team you root for, only one of which has any prayer at a title, you have the opportunity win a title thanks to your fantasy team.
And really, at the end of the day, things don’t really change much for us guys whether we’re 7 or 37. We all just want to win a trophy.
2. It gives you at least one inalienable guy’s night
While I don’t think the founding fathers ever envisioned the word they made famous – ”inalienable” – being applied to men and fantasy leagues, I can only attribute that to their lack of foresight.
Guys, I’m going to level with you: if you are with a chick who would come between you and your fantasy sports, run don’t walk to the nearest exit.
We all know that one of the most important reasons we love fantasy sports is for the draft. Whether it’s live around a big table with all of your buddies and some beer, or whether everyone congregates online (still with beer, of course), this is easily one of the most relaxing, entertaining, anticipated nights in the year of a dude.
Now look, I’m not saying cut the cord with your significant other if she gives you some grief about your draft. In most cases, a little bit of grief and guilt is to be expected. (And if in your case it is not to be expected, you should go out and by your woman flowers. Now. Stop reading this and bow down to your better half you fortunate fool.)
Fantasy draft night is one of the most important turf wars in any relationship. If your girl cannot understand the importance of this night to you, that should be a pretty conspicuous red flag.
(By the way, one strategy to try if you are given some grief about draft night is to say this: “Fine, I won’t participate in any fantasy leagues, and thus won’t go to any drafts, if you don’t buy shoes all year.” She’ll be left speechless, obviously will have no comeback, and you’ll be well on your way to a peaceful night of drafting.)
(And one more hint: if you really want it to be a peaceful night of drafting that possibly even has a happy ending, and you’re more successful than 99% of us so you have some extra cash, give her some money to go shoe shopping. Yes, it always comes back to shoes.)
3. Productive procrastination
Most of us that play fantasy baseball are in our late 20s, 30s, or early 40s, and thus we have jobs. For most of us, this means trudging to our place of work every Monday through Friday (and sometimes Saturday) for whatever our particular daily 9-to-5 grind is.
During fantasy football season, you can get by without thinking about your fantasy team during the workday; you have all day Saturday to prep and get your lineups for Sunday. Fantasy baseball, however, is a different animal.
Baseball is played every day, and every day can have a huge influence on your fantasy standing. There is nothing worse than having someone who is sitting on your bench hit two home runs when he could have been playing because your normal starter was off that day. Similarly, it sucks to not realize a bench guy is going up against a pitcher that he has owned historically. So fantasy baseball requires daily attention.
And let’s face it: you are going to procrastinate at some point during the day. (Some of you may actually spend the entire day procrastinating, getting just enough done so that you’re not asked to leave immediately upon arriving to the office the next day.)
The best part about procrastinating by doing fantasy baseball research, hypothesizing trades, and setting your lineups, is that you actually accomplish something at the end of it. You may not have achieved anything worthwhile for work, but you can still have a sense of achievement. Try matching that by wasting a half hour on Twitter or blog hopping.
So instead of leaving the office feeling like a complete failure, you only leave feeling like kind of a failure. Over the long haul, that will do wonders for your self-esteem.
4. Networking benefits
The biggest and most important metropolitan areas in the United States have baseball teams. Some of them, like New York and LA, have two. If you are a businessman, chances are good that you will have to network and do business with other guys that you do not know in these large cities. And if you’re a fantasy baseball manager who does his homework, you’ll have the ability carry on in-depth, intelligent conversations about the local baseball team.
You might laugh when you first read this and think it’s ridiculous, but you shouldn’t.
Look, maybe you are Mr. Personality or your name is Greg Arious and you never have a problem striking up a conversation with someone you’ve just met, but if you’re like many guys you probably experience some awkwardness and choppiness when it comes to small talk. Being able to knowledgeably converse about the bullpen struggles, outfield platoon, or rotation woes of the local team immediately boosts your networking power.
Successful networking is all about finding common ground and establishing ease of conversation as quickly as possible. Researching for your fantasy baseball team arms you with the information power you need.
See? And you thought you were just procrastinating. It’s productive in more ways than one.
5. Fantasy baseball teaches you the concepts of successful stock market investing
That’s right, another business angle.
I’ve played in one league for going on about ten years now. Our commish works for a hedge fund. He and the other smart, “businessey” people in our league (remember, I’m just a basement-dwelling blogger) are always using stock market euphemisms to describe and analogize things that happen in our fantasy league.
And when you think about it, it makes sense.
Successful fantasy baseball managing requires picking the best players based on how they will perform tomorrow and in the futre. Their numbers up until that point are absolutely meaningless for the future success of your team. When it comes to working the waiver wire and trading, you want sell high and buy low.
Successful stock market investing, similarly, requires picking and buying the stocks that will perform above their current value moving forward and selling those that have peaked in value. All of the past upward trending is meaningless if you buy a stock and then it starts to drop, and vice versa.
When you buy and sell is of tremendous importance in both fantasy baseball and the stock market. You cannot become a successful fantasy baseball player without developing the kind of mindset required to invest successfully.
6. You get a 6-month panacea for boredom
The MLB Network and GameCast ensure that for six months out of the year, you cannot possibly have a night with nothing to do. Why? Because you always have the pleasure of tracking your fantasy players on a nightly basis.
Before last year, you could always count on your league’s live scoring system or GameCast to provide instant statistical updates. Now, with the introduction of the MLB Network and their live look-ins on the important moments of nearly every game, this ability to track your team in real-time has been, to use an unfortunate (but appropriate) metaphor, injected in the ass with Deca-Durabolin.
Never again will you have to go home at the end of a long day and lament the fact that there is nothing on TV and nothing to do. Even if you live alone, you won’t have to lament another night of useless boredom. Pop open a cold beer, sit in your recliner with a laptop, and turn on the MLB Network.
And if you juggle the job-wife-kid triumvirate, but every now and then get an evening or even just a few minutes of solitude, this will most likely be the most relaxing and enjoyable part of your night/week/month.
7. You can take pride in your war stories, championships
Remember three years ago when you agonized over whether you should drop injured Star Pitcher A to pick up unknown Pitcher B off the waiver wire, ultimately choosing Pitcher B because of some in-depth injury analysis / statistical algorithm (referred to in common parlance as a “coin flip”) you came up with?
Of course you do. Because Pitcher B went on to win 13 games, have an ERA around 3.50, and helped lead you to a fantasy championship while Pitcher A ended up going on and off the DL all year.
No one else may care but you and the other guys in your league (actually, they don’t really care either, but they occasionally humor you), but you know how ballsy it was to make that move and you know that without it you wouldn’t have that silly purple bobblehead on your dresser commemorating your title.
Well guess what? Those lonely, pathetic chumps who don’t play fantasy baseball never have the opportunity create such memories and tell such war stories. I know…I laugh at those losers too.
Ultimately, that’s the point: you don’t want to be a loser, or feel like one, and you definitely don’t want to allow yourself to become an angry, bored old man
And the way to combat all of this is to play fantasy baseball.
It may not get you chicks – in fact, it might even cost you the one you’re with – but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make you a better, happier man.
* – Loser picture credit: Confessions of a She-Fan
* – Man and woman photo credit: Mars Venus Living
* – Networking photo credit: Here