You know, a lot of people have given me the advice over the years to help ease the loneliness of waiting for that one woman that understands me to come along to just do the things that I enjoy doing, and who knows, maybe I'll meet that special someone while I'm doing it. That would be impossible. I can't meet anyone while burying my nose in box scores looking up statistics to help out my fantasy baseball teams. But it's what I enjoy. I have always loved baseball anyway, the coming of the warm weather here in Chicago being a sure sign of baseball season and making it the time of year that I most look forward to. But I got into fantasy baseball about six or seven years ago, and watching the game has become a more and more intense exercise for me with every passing year. (Fantasy baseball for those that aren't familiar is simply picking real players off real baseball teams and adding their statistics throughout the season and sorting them into categories and taking those results and pitting them against the stats of nine or ten other nerds who have drafted their favorite players and seeing who has the better stats at the end of the season. Not for math haters.) Isolating myself in my tiny apartment, I have become more and more immersed in picking the players who have shown promise in past seasons or in the minor leagues and studying their progress throughout the season. It's sad and lonely, but it's what I enjoy.
Theoretically I can make money off fantasy baseball. There are many many leagues where you pay an entry fee and win a large percentage of the proceeds at the end of the year. But I'm only in two pay leagues, and neither of those are expensive, about $20 each to enter. My friend "Jacob" is in a big-money league, with an entry fee of about $500 and a first prize of about $4,000. With such loot on the line, he enlists my help in studying players and scouting newcomers, and if he ever makes money, I'll get a piece of it. This league is so important that in order to participate in the annual auction draft, I just cut class Tuesday because the draft was in the evening at the AON Building downtown. Imagine fifteen very serious and intense baseball geeks hunkering down in a conference room for five hours nominating players and bidding real money for them. Not pretty, but it's what we enjoy. We even call our annual draft night "The Greatest Night In Sports." No women are allowed, unless one felt confident enough to buy her own team, but if I may be a sexist pig here, I can't see a chick being that much into baseball that she could compete with us. We will all convene again on July 31 for TradeFest, where those in contention for the league title trade their young future stars for guys that can help their team now. And July 31 is the "trade deadline," meaning no more trades can be made during the season after that date, so it's a very important event.
Can you feel the geekiness flowing through your veins???
It's addictive though, kinda like gambling. I can't tell you how big of a rush it is to draft a kid that no one has heard of, but you saw his trend of hitting more homers in the minor leagues year after year and you recognize that he's obviously becoming a better power hitter each year, and now he's going to start the season in the major leagues, so you figure if he gets any playing time he'll show that improving power and wind up putting up big numbers for you. (I just lost most of you I know.) Basically, it's like scouting. Lots of old wrinkled guys get paid lots of money to go to high schools and colleges all over the country and watch kids hit and pitch and try to pick out which of those kids have the natural talent and ability to one day be an impact player. Anyone can pick the huge kids hitting the ball everywhere, or the thick-legged pitcher throwing 95 MPH fastballs. The real scouts have to look at the other kids and see who might one day wind up a good player even though they might not be so great right now. Well, I don't have the privilege to go around the country scouting minor league players, so I have to rely on their numbers from the years they have played in the minors. And there's a tremendous amount of pride in discovering that kid that has never played in the majors and puts up great numbers in his rookie year. You can say "Hey! No one saw that coming...except me!"
So that's where my attention and energy will be devoted for the next seven months. Of course I have eight weeks left in this school semester, but I almost feel like I'm not in school anymore. I feel like nothing else is going on except baseball. On my desk next to my computer sits three or four baseball newspapers. My schoolbooks are somewhere around here. Whatever. "Torrie" has called once in the last two weeks. Whatever. The Kentucky Derby is in a month, and as excited as I am about that, you know the first thing I will be doing when I come back the Sunday night after the Derby? Firing up the computer and checking on how my six internet fantasy teams and how Jacob's big-money team did those two days that I was gone.
Hey, beats crying over not being able to get a date.