It’s official: I can’t stand fantasy baseball, and
the psycho owners of these teams drive me crazy.

Daniel Bremmer

In the past, I never really had a problem with it. I was in a
few leagues in high school but never really cared — maybe
that’s why I can’t imagine how anyone could go so crazy
over these players and their stats. But the whole process never
really bothered me.

I started thinking even more about fantasy baseball when I read
Naweed Sikora’s column about this pastime in Monday’s
Michigan Daily.

Then, on Tuesday, I had a revelation. During a sports section
meeting at the Daily, I brought my laptop to try and get some work
done. To my disbelief, I witnessed three of my colleagues pulling
Clark Kent-esque transformations from sports editors to crazed
fantasy-baseball lunatics.

These guys surrounded my laptop — keep in mind, my laptop
has a small 12-inch screen — watching Yahoo’s stat
tracker, huddled around the display closer together than Matt Damon
and Greg Kinnear in “Stuck on You.” I’m telling
you, it would’ve been easier to pry Shawn Kemp away from a
platter of free cupcakes than get these guys away from my
computer.

And all this for what? To see how many strikeouts Mike Maroth
had pitched through five innings?

I started thinking about these crazy fantasy baseball owners in
general, and only one thought popped into my head: What the hell is
wrong with you people?

You sit at the computer for hours to watch a meaningless Yahoo
pop-up window like it’s the Paris Hilton video. You think
nothing is more important than how a scrub like David Bell did from
the plate that night. You jump up and down when a player from a
team you hate hits a homer and you scream in agony when a guy you
don’t even like gets injured.

But worst of all, you annoy the hell out of me while doing it.
These mindless drones make this “game” more annoying
than a Backstreet Boys song.

Let’s get this straight: It’s not the common,
silent, ‘I-check-my-team-once-a-week’ kind of fantasy
managers who get on my nerves. It’s the crazy, obsessed,
‘I’d-rather-see-my-fantasy-catcher-hit-a-homer-than-Michigan-win-a-national-championship’-style
people who make me want to bang my head against a wall.

Even Naweed — whose column on Monday made fantasy baseball
sound so good it should have ran on Yahoo’s website —
would probably agree that these over-the-top fantasy baseball
managers get on his nerves, too.

I have no problem with other fantasy sports. I’ll even
admit that fantasy drafts, baseball included, are a good time. And
I can see why someone could get into a different sport if it were
shorter. Spending 17 days a year — even somewhere in the 30s
if you count Monday nights — watching a football stat tracker
seems fairly normal compared with the 162-day grind of the baseball
season. I’ve been in fantasy basketball leagues, and I admit
it’s fun, but only because I could get away with checking my
team once a week at most.

Fantasy baseball is different because of the length of the
season. This eternal sandlot session makes some of these guys nuts.
These “managers” think that their fantasy prominence
means that they are the next Brian Cashman or Billy Beane. Great
thinking: Beating nine of your hung-over buddies in a meaningless
league is just as impressive as winning a real-life World Series,
maybe even more so.

Baseball is statistically driven — probably more than
other sports — so I understand why fantasy baseball managers
are into home runs and ERA But some of these fantasy studs are so
obsessed with some of the most obscure stats there are. WHIP?
(Before I go any further, let me explain: WHIP equals Walks plus
Hits, divided by Innings Pitched, something that any fantasy
baseball veteran will tell you). I can’t help but think that,
if it wasn’t for fantasy baseball, WHIP would be as
ridiculous as one of SportsCenter’s “he’s hitting
.358 against left-handed pitchers whose names start with vowels in
ballparks that serve light beer on Tuesdays” stats.

In my quest to understand why people get so involved in the
fantasy baseball season, I talked to my friend Jon, who said that
the best thing about fantasy baseball is the chance to “learn
about random players you’ve never heard of.” With all
due respect to guys like Karim Garcia, there are members of his own
family who don’t know (or care) as much about his stats as
some of these fantasy gurus.

Some additional thoughts about fantasy: Why doesn’t it
focus more on helping a team instead of individual stats?
Where’s the sacrifice bunt/sacrifice fly category? What about
diving catches or home runs robbed? Yahoo actually offers those
sacrifice categories, but I’ve never heard of anyone actually
using them. For the other stats, maybe someone at Yahoo will read
this column.

As much as fantasy baseball gets on my nerves, there are some
outside factors that make rooting hardcore for your fantasy team
excusable. If you’ve got a ton of money riding on your
fantasy league, then you have a right to take it seriously. And if
you follow a team in real life that’s going to be in last for
most of the season, then go ahead and enjoy your fantasy
season.

If you’re a casual owner who realizes how crazy some
people can get, try not to let yourself get that way. And even if
you’re a fantasy owner that’s fuming mad after reading
this (probably because you’re one of those guys I just
described), and you just can’t get away from the game, then
keep playing. But do me, and everyone else, a favor. Stop driving
us all crazy talking about your WHIP.

Daniel Bremmer is proud to announce that he is in zero
fantasy baseball leagues this season. He can be reached at
“mailto:bremmerd@umich.edu”>bremmerd@umich.edu

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