Fantasy baseball — a lifelong love affair

Not too long ago in this space Aaron Hagen wrote about his fantasy baseball exploits for the year.

In his column he mentioned how both he and I are doing the Daily Globe sports department not so proud by sitting in second to last place and last place, respectively, in the standings in our league with fellow staffers and a group from New York.

After weeks and weeks of defeat, you may wonder why we bother with the game. Why should anybody subject themselves to painstakingly monitoring the statistical production of a group of 20 or so Major League baseball players on a nightly basis through a 162-game schedule in the pursuit of a virtual trophy?

This is my eighth year of playing fantasy baseball, and it’s something I anticipate I will never quit.

I am a lifelong lover of baseball — stemming from my earliest memories of watching Kirby Puckett embarrass opposing pitchers in the Metrodome — but fantasy baseball has taken my obsession with the game  to another level.

Having grown up overseas, I would only get small glimpses of the game during our yearly family trip to visit our American relatives. When the internet came along I had an easier time following the game (mlb.com is perhaps my most visited website), but I still missed a lot of baseball history. Only much later did I read about Cal Ripken and his streak, and I somehow even missed Barry Bonds’ 73 home run season.

In my eight years of fantasy baseball, I am pretty sure I haven’t missed a single thing that Major League Baseball has put on the table.

It started when I would spend recess and lunch breaks in the computer lab at my high school in Japan checking the day’s MLB box scores — with the time difference, most games were wrapped up before the lunch hour was over.

It’s one thing rooting for your favorite team to do well, but fantasy baseball forces players to expand their horizons. Whereas before I started fantasy baseball I would only check the box scores for the Twins and the Braves, ever since I started I have kept tabs on every single lineup and almost every player. My consumption of all things baseball is at an all-time high.

For people like me, there is no thing as having too much baseball. I probably would be inclined to dig through baseball stats for fun anyway, but having a virtual team of players to compete against your friends with actually makes it turn into a social activity.

The league I first joined with high school friends in Japan is still going. Based on my track record keeping in touch with people, I probably would have lost contact with most of the people in this league years ago if we didn’t have fantasy baseball to connect us. We’re now spread around the world —from Japan to the US, Canada and even Sweden — but we still send our trophy around between us (a dragon to which we attach “bling” to commemorate our victories), no matter the distance.

My addiction to the game has gone so far that I often find myself going through withdrawal in the winter months.

Even though this hasn’t been a top year competitively for me (I’m also near the bottom in my league with my friends from Japan), the thrill of having players on my roster hit home runs and the camaraderie I continue to share with fellow players makes it all worthwhile.

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