Monday, March 1, 2010

On The Fantasy Baseball Experiment

Long ago, when I was a desperate and unpopular adolescent, I wandered into a bookstore and happened upon a curious tome called Rotisserie League Baseball. This was in (approximately) 1986, and the first fantasy league I curated included four teams, with the statistics calculated on notepaper and diligently stored inside a Trapper Keeper, most likely with a Def Leppard logo outlined by Exacto knife on the front cover.

I've written a number of times on this forum about my subsequent disillusionment with the game of baseball, and I won't bore you again with the details. But today, I began my engagement in what I believe is an unprecedented experiment: For the first time in years, I have joined a "serious" fantasy baseball league. I did this largely for the camaraderie, because the participants in this league are some of my best friends from college, and the commissioner of this league is an enigmatic and detail-oriented savant who treats the league with the kind of reverence that belies its paltry entry fee.* Therefore, the banter of the league itself will be unavoidably joyous. But my opinion of baseball itself has not changed; I find it staid and tiresome. Any romance it clung to has been subsumed by two decades of hypocrisy. Therefore, my experiment is this: I am going to attempt to remain competitive in a fantasy baseball league without watching a full inning of Major League Baseball all season long.

Now, there will likely be some unavoidable exceptions to this rule: I may be required to attend a game or two as part of my work duties, or I may be courted by a friend in possession of Yankees tickets. But for the most part, my goal is to avoid watching more than six outs in any particular contest. I will base my fantasy strategy entirely on facts and figures, which is the way it should be, anyway, even though I apparently have little to no grasp of how many these statistics are now calculated.**I will not be colored by appearances, or by allegiances, or by emotionality, or by news/gossip, or by team standings (which I will check as rarely as possible); in fact, in the first round--it's a ten-team, five-player keeper league--I deliberately chose someone I had actively never heard of until this morning: Adam Lind, of the Toronto Blue Jays, who apparently hit 35 home runs and drove in 114 runs last year and was most definitely not in my kitchen this morning. Other than that, I can tell you nothing about him. In fact, I can tell you nothing at all about the Toronto Blue Jays, except that (I presume) they still play in the SkyDome, which was once the subject of this utterly outstanding Steve Rushin piece...19 years ago.

In that spirit, I plan on choosing Terry Pendleton with my next pick.

*A few days ago, he sent out several pages of pre-draft "News and Notes." Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we could somehow channel all the energy exerted on fantasy sports into neuroscience. And then I spend twelve minutes contemplating Mike Dunleavy's 3-point percentage, and I am jarred back to reality.
**Today I read this sentence, in the $7.99 fantasy baseball magazine I scooped up at a local bodega: "He's regressed in the counting and rate stats two consecutive years." I was worried, for a moment, that I had mistakenly purchased a copy of Institutional Investor.


WarningTrack said...

Interesting. I hope you report back on this.

And, somewhat facetiously: if you're looking for another league to play, mine's got an empty couple of slots.

Big said...

Great foundation for your team. I am thinking Mark Lemke with my second pick.

Let us know if we can whip you up a free fantasy baseball logo.