Friday, August 29, 2014

Living the Fantasy Life

"Hi Guru, I'm in a 12-team super-flex, PPR and I've got the sixth pick, but can keep two players drafted after the tenth round last year and I've got a keeper question," begins almost every ride home if you're in your car listening to the Fantasy Sports Channel on Sirius/XM radio. 

That is if you "play" Fantasy Football.

For years, I resisted the siren's call of Fantasy Football.  I played in various Fantasy (or "Rotisserie") Baseball and knew it was an addictive, all-consuming, hell-on-earth (unless you won).  I explained to my pusher/friend that it was like sending an alcoholic to a bar.  But, like all good pushers/friends, he was persistent, promising me fun and good times.  But, in this case, the first taste wasn't free (there was a $190 league entry fee).  I relented and joined one league, and was immediately immersed in the lifestyle.

I found myself avoiding non-Giant players from the NFC East; I tried to maintain my dignity by rooting for or against certain teams; I paid fleeting attention to the waiver wire; then a funny thing happened - I didn't make the playoffs.  

I came back the next season having spent countless hours reading ten different web sites; getting daily email updates; and running about 200 mock drafts to get an idea of how to react on draft day.  I drafted Tony Romo.  Then a funnier thing happened - I was the leading money winner in the league. 

I was in for good. 

I stressed out about fourth wide receivers; joined a second league; spent more time watching the gazillion fantasy sports shows on ESPN and the NFL Network then I spent with my kids; joined a third league; started giving other people advice(!); and became one of the 33 million people who are hooked from August through December. (Quick question: what are the other 7+ billion doing?)

I do find myself pondering the larger, existential questions about Fantasy Football: 
  • Is Fantasy ruining the fan experience by diluting team allegiances or growing the sport by getting fans actively engaged? 
  • Can players really be hosting their own shows about this (Maurice Jones-Drew is a huge Fantasy participant, but no longer a Fantasy "stud")?
  • Will my home life survive or will my wife start her own "Fantasy Husband" league?
  • Will I go over or under 5,000 on the number of times I scream "f you" at certain players during the season? (I think I'll be over by Week 5.)
Regardless of the answers I may find to these and other questions, I find that the real fantasy lies in the chase for the perfect draft pick or waiver wire selection; getting together with the guys at the draft; begging for players in trade proposals; and sitting there right before kickoff on opening Sunday, hoping you get it all right.

Just Sayin'

Please, someone tell me the Giants' offense is sandbagging us.

I'm ready for Johnny Manziel to retire already. Never has someone gotten so much out of so little.  

Are the Yankees playing with our hearts?  They have not missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since Derek Jeter started - now is not the time to start.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jeter Farewell Tour Offsets Summertime Blues

My family's summer tradition of going to a Yankee game reached a crescendo this year, as we made our way to visit family in the Dallas area, just in time for the Rangers to say farewell to Derek Jeter.  Globe Life Park is an amalgam of various stadiums.  It has the right field upper deck from old Tiger Stadium, a mock Yankee Stadium facade, a shorter version of the Green Monster from Boston, and even some Camden Yards brickwork.  But what the stadium lacks in individuality, it more than makes up for in food.

Everything is bigger in Texas.

This is Michelle Obama's worst nightmare.  Calorie counts with commas; not a salad to be
seen; fried everything for the asking.  There is a hot dog that's about two feet long and weighs three pounds.  If you add the condiments, we're talking about something you can work out with.  Helmet ice cream sundaes do not come in those cute little cups, but in REAL HELMETS!  (This meets fantasy status for me.)  Being in the heart of Texas, they had the obligatory barbeque restaurant, but they need a little marketing help when my 18 year-old daughter asks me if there's something wrong with wanting to go eat "Nolan Ryan's Meat."

But back to baseball.  During the Jeter farewell tour, every team is providing gifts and donations to his charity organization.  We were lucky enough to witness the Rangers' going away party, which included running out a bald Pudge Rodriguez and fit-looking Michael Young to represent the team.  Of course they couldn't come up with anything original and gave him a pair of cowboy boots and a check (they should have given a little more considering he only hit .279 against them in the postseason).  They did pull out one surprise - former President (and former Rangers owner) George W. Bush came by to personally present Jeter with a plaque. 

The most interesting thing was witnessing the reaction to the ceremony.  Even though the crowd was about 30% Yankee fans, everyone was on their feet, cheering and saying goodbye (and for die-hard Rangers fans, I'm sure it was "good riddance").  This scene was repeated for every at bat, especially the last one where Jeter unceremoniously popped up to first to end a mild threat (is there any other this year) in a one run game.  As a lifelong Yankee fan (and someone who has had a notorious man-crush on Jeter since 1996), I found a new appreciation being able to witness this in person, seeing Jeter being celebrated on the road - transcending the sport a la Ripkin.  I just hope that we can count on Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen or Clayton Kershaw to pick up the baton and become a worthy "face of baseball."

Just Sayin'

You know times are tough for Tony Romo when a rodeo clown at the Ft. Worth Stockyards is mocking him during a show.

When did a baseball pitcher's career expectancy get shorter than the life expectancy of a1970's era rock band drummer?

If Doug (Muscle Hamster) Martin has a comeback year for the Buccaneers, then Giant GM Jerry Reece will have to answer for getting out maneuvered in the first round of the draft two years ago.

Fantasy Football Update: I've got the fourth and ninth pick in two of my drafts this year - looks like I'll be feasting on leftovers.