Discover more from Real Man Sports
With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, I’d normally be focusing on baseball prep this time of year, and I’d usually have drafted a team or two by now. In fact, the NFBC guys already contacted me to set up the first “Beat Chris Liss” league, as they know I like drafting early in overall contests because you can create some team builds that are impossible to replicate once ADP congeals more firmly in March. (This is an advantage because there are many more drafts going on closer to the season.)
But I told them I’d have to hold off because I’m thinking about sitting this year out. I still love fantasy baseball, but not quite as much as I used to. For starters, the real-life game has evolved in a way that makes the fantasy game more tedious — the closer carousels, quick hooks for starting pitchers, the increased use of platoons and routine days off for hitters mean more lineup shuffling and more hustle. Even when fantasy sports was my full-time job, I hated the hustle.
I got into fantasy because I loved speculating on players — who would bounce back, break out or fall off a cliff. I wanted to match wits with other people projecting what was going to happen, to prove who knew what was what. Of course, some hustle was necessary even back then, and it didn’t even feel like hustle initially because I was interested in the subject and driven to get any competitive advantage I could.
Eventually though, when I had eight or nine leagues and had to make sure I had good internet and a place to do my free-agent moves for hours every Sunday, it became tedious. We’d be driving back from some weekend getaway on the west coast, and I’d be stressing about getting home with at least an hour to spare just to do a halfway decent job before the 7 pm deadline.
In Portugal where I live now, it’s the opposite problem. The free agent moves run at 3 am, and I can’t stay up late enough to take in the Sunday night game or find out about late-breaking injury news. That’s rare enough that it doesn’t kill me, but often on Monday, Tuesday or Friday nights, I need to see if a player is in a west-coast-game lineup, and the teams don’t post until well after midnight my time. At my birthday party last year (which was on a Friday night) I remember being drunk at a karaoke bar trying to check the lineups via painfully slow internet on my US phone so I could swap out a player in my fantasy lineup if necessary. The connection was too slow, so I had another shot and tried to put it out of my mind.
One of the things I love about no longer working for RotoWire is not having the SXM show. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy I did that show for so long, and there were many great things about it. But I love not having to be at my desk at that same time for two hours, four days a week every week for 12 years. I like having the freedom to write or podcast or do Sudoku puzzles all day based on what’s interesting to me. I love traveling without having to get someone to cover for me, or worse, make sure there’s an ethernet connection with 30 MB up and down so I can do the show. I was tethered to that show for 12 years, and now I am free.
But fantasy baseball still had me tethered to the screen last year, cutting into my sleep, or when I was in LA and Colorado during the summer, disrupting my Sunday afternoons. I’m happy to do the research in the winter, I love drafting and auctioning to construct my teams, but I have no interest in being on call at those specific times irrespective of where I am or what else is going on in my life. Playing fantasy baseball (and football which is night and day easier and less taxing) means you really can’t even take time off from being online for more than a day or two. It’s not a big deal if you’re online anyway for work, but if it’s the only thing keeping you from disappearing into the mountains for a month, it’s a major encroachment. (Not that I’d do that, but I like knowing I could if I wanted.)
So bottom line, I want to play, but I don’t want to be on call. And if I’m not on call, I won’t win because too many other good players are willing to be. I’m too competitive to sign up while drawing dead, but I love the game, and I want to write about it this baseball season. That’s why I didn’t tell the NFBC guys no, but just asked them to give me a couple weeks to work it out. Once the Super Bowl is over, I might get the bug, and if that happens, I’ll probably draft some teams and work out how to run them.
One idea I’ve had might be to get a partner to manage them for me and cut him in on the winnings. It’s tricky because he’d have to be diligent, knowledgeable, committed and broke enough to care about the prospect of a payout for a team he didn’t draft and might not even like. Especially if it’s in sixth place in June. It’s too bad I can’t hire my 25-YO former self. I would have been perfect for the job.