May 30, 2007


My Overactive Fantasy Life: What happens when you love your fantasy baseball team a little too much. (David Roth, May 30, 2007, Slate)

It's already building by the time the players start showing up in Florida and Arizona. When the first drowsy spring training games appeared on television, I could feel it. And so it was with great excitement and anticipation that I did what countless other baseball fans did as Opening Day approached: I turned on my computer and started studying. About a week before the big leaguers began their season, I began mine. Not in sunshine but in the lonely blue glow of my computer, and not with the crack of the bat but with the click of the keyboard.

I am far from alone in this pursuit: Sixteen million people played fantasy baseball in 2006. In basements that smell like pizza and dudes, in conference rooms on the company clock, or in notional, Java Applet-powered online "draft rooms," we fantasy baseball GMs build the teams over which we will obsess for the next six months. And I have no problem with that. The strange part, I have come to realize, is that the baseball team I care about the most this summer will be my fantasy squad. This doesn't mean that I've stopped caring about my favorite big-league team. But it's a certainty that I'll spend more time worrying about a team named "Garkness Visible" (after Indians first baseman Ryan Garko) than about my beloved New York Mets.

I'm sure this indicates that I have any number of problems. But, once again, it's not just me. Over the last decade, fake sports, be they fantasy sports or video-game sports, have come to rival in popularity the professional sports they reference and emulate. Fantasy newbies and nonbelievers are well within their rights to ask why.

The Wife and I were at one of the Tom Clancy movies and Jack Ryan has a techie helping him hack into someone's computer. The kid says: "Don't worry, everybody uses his wife or kids name or one of their birthdays."

The Wife: "So, do you use me name?"

The Husband: "Um, not quite..."

The Wife: "What do you use?"

The Husband: "Um, the name of the centerfielder on my Rotisserie team..."

The Wife: "#@$#@%"

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 30, 2007 7:33 PM
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