Every year December comes around and I start getting that “need” to play Fantasy Baseball. Like an insatiable itch in the middle of my back I crave the daily drop/adds, roster shuffles and micro managing of my multiple fantasy baseball teams. Rationalizing a roster move because a player had one bad game only to have that player hit 2 home runs and drive in 7 while he sits on my bench. The end of March can’t come quickly enough and I usually turn to MLB The Show on my PS3 to build my own fantasy team during the offseason so that I can get my number crunching fix. But this year is going to be completely different because I have decided to walk away from my addiction………..Yes you read that right, I am not playing the game that I obsess over every day. But I have good reason to walk away now.
First and foremost, I feel that fantasy baseball has had the opposite effect that most would attribute to it, that is “It doesn’t actually make you follow the game any closer”. You would think that you have to be a hardcore baseball fan to play fantasy baseball but I feel like it has had the opposite effect on the way that I enjoy the game. Instead of sitting in front of the tv to watch Sunday night baseball, I have my computer up with my fantasy baseball team and MLB.tv up on one of the tabs and I frantically flip between games (or have it on the mosaic mode) watching every pitch/at bat of every player on my fantasy baseball team. I get upset when a player strikes out because in my fantasy baseball-drugged mind, all of my players should bat 1.000. On top of that, nothing is worse than when one of my pitchers is going up against one of my hitters, that is truly the end of the world. Weeks go by with this daily grind and what I find out is that I have absolutely no grasp of how “real teams” are doing in the standings, or that I don’t know half the players on my favorite team. Instead that information has been replaced with “my fantasy baseball teams” stats and standings. Can it be true that my fantasy baseball addiction has pulled me further away from my favorite sport?
The past 3 baseball seasons I have sought respite from my addiction by being a season ticket holder to Vanderbilt Baseball. It gave me time to go enjoy the game that I loved and enjoy it the way that I used to. I would go to the games and watch their away games online and actually cheer for a team not based on numbers or how they personally effected me. I would chew sunflower seeds and chat about the game with the other fans and was elated to be part of the whole experience. This recent reflection made me look at the past few seasons of attending Braves games and one common theme kept popping up: I spent so much time cheering for individuals regardless of team and little time cheering for the team I was there to see. What kind of monster have I become?
This brings me to the writing of this article. Within the last week I reached out to a friend of mine (and fellow fantasy baseball enthusiast) and asked him for some advice. It wasn’t until I started spelling out the reasons to him for my “being at odds with fantasy baseball” that I really realized that it had become a problem. I had let my addiction to the micro managing of people and numbers ruin my love of the game and I felt really empty inside because of it. His words to me were to take a year off and see how I feel. He was trimming back his addiction to just one uber-competitive league this year so he could go back to enjoying life outside of fantasy baseball. I have decided to take his advice in the hope that I can go back to enjoying the peanuts and crackerjacks and stop my separation from the favorite sport in my life.
Wish Me Luck!