A League of My Own

At the end of last week, I found myself sitting at the computer, anxiously awaiting the outcome of certain events that will take place this week that are of the utmost importance to me. These events will either enshrine my name in the annals of history or it will doom my name to be laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, soiled, and violated behind a Denny’s. I take a deep breath and before I can exhale, Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox has given up seven runs in two innings before being pegged in the kneecap by a ground ball.

I can not say the words that came to my lips at that time as my mother informed me that she is monitoring my level of cursing on this blog, but I will reveal that it had something to do with either animal waste material or copulation. Both, actually. The reason that I was so upset did not necessarily stem from the fact that I am an ardent Red Sox fan, which I am. It stemmed from the fact that Lester represented the flickering hope that I had left to move my fantasy baseball team, the Mantooth Saints, from a dismal third place to a respectable, modest second place. And there he was, writhing on the pitchers mound, not even caring what he was doing to me, his rightful owner.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the world of fantasy sports, I am equal parts disappointed and envious. If there are two things that men love more than anything in the universe, they would be their fantasies and their sports. Fantasy sports are a way to take the convoluted, illogical, debauched, and often illegal in several counties fantasies of men and channel them into a healthy computerized sports statistics forum. Managers in these leagues pick the players that they think will perform the best during the season and then earn points for the feats that these athletes perform. At the end of the season, those points could equate to a large sum of cash or a hastily made sculpture of prophylactics tied to a 5th grade soccer “participation” trophy. The best part of fantasy sports is that they allow you to take part in the thrill of athletic competition without ever having to use a treadmill or restrain from hollowing out a Twinkie to use as a bun for your bratwurst.

At the beginning of the baseball season in April, I was asked to join a fantasy baseball league. I had never participated in anything like this before, but I thought that it could liven up my days at work and become a welcome change of pace to compulsively taking personality tests on Facebook. When I participated in the draft, I was slightly disappointed to not find my top picks of Jose Canseco and Bo Jackson anywhere on the list of available players. I quickly learned the ins and outs of the game and I now have a widget on my homepage that sends me real-time updates on the status of Chipper Jones’ ankle.

Current Status: mildly fractured

When I was younger, I participated in an entirely different kind of fantasy sport. You see, much like today, I didn’t have many friends. Because of my rampant antisocialism (and that has nothing to do with Health Care reform) I intentionally alienated myself from the friends that I did have. So, I was forced to entertain myself. Using nothing but a pad of a paper and a five dollar Nerf basketball hoop, I created an intricate league of basketball players, drafted from the full set of Topps basketball cards I had collected. I formed them into rosters and then had full seasons where they would play against each other. I would play the role of every single player in the league. I would pass the ball off of the walls of my bedroom, scoot my toe back from the 3-point line represented by my She-Ra figurine, perform a slow-motion slam dunk for the highlight reel, and play out an entire game. After each score, I pulled the pencil out from behind my ear and tabulated all of the statistical results of the previous play. I had mock interviews with sports broadcasters where I claimed that the other team was full of “real fighters” and praised the efforts of my fellow teammates Muggsy Bogues and Christian Laettner.

My parents were admissive of this activity, which at its most innocent involved a child exercising enthusiasm for sports and at its most damaging was a child with a severe obsessive compulsion crying out for help. I went through several Nerf hoops during a season and so I eventually just used some masking tape to show where the imaginary hoop would be. When the NFL season started, I created another fantasy league which proved even more difficult and involved even more copious notation. This meant that I loved it even more. Eventually puberty hit and I abandoned my imaginary pursuits in favor of the much more practical and realistic pursuits of playing Mist on the computer and writing poetry to girls who were stuck being my Biology lab partners. The archives of these imagined sporting events were recently exhumed from the closet of my old bedroom. As I rifled through the loose sheets with hundreds of hash marks, I was transplanted back to the glory days. Oh the 1991 Timberwolves, you will always be legend to me.

And today the fantasizing still continues, only in an arguably more adult setting. Now that the baseball season is days from completion and I am languishing in third place, my efforts have been refocused towards the new NFL season. On Monday night, I found myself simultaneously praying for the Cowboys offense to fail miserably and for the Cowboys defense to intercept every single pass. Usually, the only attention I pay to the Dallas franchise is how Jerry Jones maintains the waxy quality of his skin folds. I cheered at home, by myself (still, no friends and a wife who is very unsupportive of my fantasy pursuits) when the running back for the Cowboys tweaked his knee and left the game. This ensured the victory of my team, the Rich Mahoganies, over my opponent and slightly made up for the very similar injury dealt to a certain Red Sox player a few days previous.

Now I sit comfortably at the top of my football league’s standings, proud of the accomplishments that my team has made in the past few weeks. Actually, I am glad that I have accomplished anything in these past few weeks. I am reliving the days of my childhood where my only worries were imagining blocking a shot from myself in my old bedroom with the dents in the walls and the now creaky floorboards. This is my world of sports, and I am vicariously living out all of my dreams of becoming a multi-sport athlete through this data-compiling game on the internet. I rule. And just wait until week seven when I bring Bo Jackson into my line up.

Bo knows. And can sympathize.


Cajunazn said...

Fantasy football - for the guy that uses to beat up the guys who played fantasy games.

Joe said...

I do have to say you are kicking our butts. Maybe I just don't know (care) enough about the NFL to know how to be the top fantasy player.

doug said...

Like drugs, pornography, and syndicated episodes of The Office, fantasy sports are highly addictive and can take over your life. Good thing I won our baseball league. If you've never played, don't start-life's simpler that way.