Opening Day. It is truly a day of eternal
hope. This is by far my favorite part of the baseball season
because no matter how bad your team is now, or how bad it will turn
out to be, each team is even at this point. Everyone has an equal
shot based on record, and that means every fan has something to get
excited about. It is a great feeling.

Naweed Sikora

Unfortunately for most of us, this feeling of hope won’t
last long. Before we know it, our teams (mine being the Dodgers)
will have stumbled out of the gate and will be headed for another
season of October-less baseball — another reason why I love
the spring part of the season so much.

But there is one way to maintain interest in the sport even if
your team throws in the towel by the All-Star game: Fantasy
Baseball.

For those of you who refuse to pay attention to anything other
than your real-life favorite squad, you might as well stop reading
because playing in a fantasy league is about more than just your
hometown favorites. Here are five reasons Fantasy Baseball is one
of the best things about watching the boys of summer.

1. It gives you a reason to flip on ESPN’s Baseball
Tonight even if your team’s season is effectively over. By
picking players from several teams, it doesn’t matter how
well your team is doing — you’ll be cheering for
specific players whom you never thought you would care about. I
never thought I would be so excited when Boston’s Johnny
Damon picked up an RBI on a ground out late in Sunday night’s
loss to Baltimore, but he’s on my team, and it could make a
big difference for me.

2. You get a chance to play manager. If you’re like me, I
feel bad for you because your favorite team must be pretty bad. But
you probably spend hours thinking about why your team decided to
acquire Mr. X, when it could have had Mr. Y — especially if
your team makes a lot of bad decisions. But with fantasy,
you’re in charge. You decide who is on your team, and you
decide how long to keep him. It’s actually a very satisfying
feeling to make a trade and see it pan out for the better. I
haven’t experienced this feeling yet, but I hope to soon.

3. It gives you a chance to get excited over meaningless games
at meaningless points of the season. The only people who cared
about the Colorado Rockies 115 games into the 2003 season were the
diehard Rockies fans, teams that wanted to beat them to make it to
the playoffs and the fantasy baseball managers who had Todd Helton
on their squad. Even though his home runs didn’t mean much in
real life for the team, they meant a lot to a fantasy owner who was
trying to win his or her league.

4. Strong internal conflict. There’s nothing more
agonizing then a situation where a pitcher on your team has to
pitch against a hitter on your team. Obviously, they both
can’t succeed in that situation, so it leaves fantasy owners
pondering about what scenario would hurt them the least overall.
Unlike good trades, this is something that I have had a lot of
experience with.

5. It gives you the chance to keep in touch with those good old
college buddies. This especially goes for you seniors out there.
I’m moving home after college, back to watch my precious
Dodgers try to somehow put runs on the board. Not many of my
friends are moving out there with me, but I know that since
we’re in the same league, we’ll always have something
to cheer, argue or bargain about. It’ll be great.

So enjoy another season of baseball and good luck with that
fantasy squad.

And of course, enjoy this season of eternal hope before we all
start cursing the Yankees.

Naweed Sikora traded away Javy Lopez before his first game of
the season, in which Javy went 3-for-4 with a homerun and three
RBIs. If you want his advice on your fantasy league, he can be
reached at
“mailto:nsikora@umich.edu”>nsikora@umich.edu.

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