Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Sports are better if fantasy is involved

April 26, 2001

I have spent hours of researching the past two months, looking up figures, studying histories and reading articles. But this wasn’t preparation for a test or for a class, but for the sweetest of fantasies - the Andro All-Stars.

Fantasy baseball has become more than just a game on Yahoo, it’s a battle for respect. Take The State News’ newsroom, for example, there’s a daily war for bragging rights.

Unlike conventional war, the only casualties are players released. The injuries are not bullet wounds, but rotator cuff strains and bruised egos.

I looked at charts, previous statistics, player rankings and projected statistics while developing my depth chart for the draft.

Every spot on my team was going to be filled by a player who was going to produce good numbers, at least ideally.

The Andro All-Stars, my team, have given me an ulcer, graying hair and sleepless nights. And it wasn’t always like this.

The squad got off to a blazing-hot start, with Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Shannon Stewart racking up points. I had a seat atop my league leaderboard, and I was letting everybody know about it.

Riding high as the league’s best manager, I continued to play the right guys on the right days and maintain my lead.

Then I fell - hard.

At a meager sixth place of 10 right now, I am struggling for answers to the questions surrounding my demise. I point all fingers to Todd Hundley, the Chicago Cubs’ power-hitting (I use this term very, very liberally) catcher, who has done absolutely nothing for me.

This all has me very upset.

Fantasy baseball is the perfect way to follow a sport with the tradition and mystique that baseball has.

Personally, my journey into the wonderful world of fantasy began with a few friends in high school. A little money spiced things up, and I studied the box scores every morning.

Now, I play for the love of the game, not the cash. I have no money riding on either of my fantasy teams, which is probably a good thing considering their success.

I love the involvement fantasy baseball requires. A good manager will watch the injury reports, the scores and the individual statistics. I check my stats every day and the stats of everyone else in the league.

I am always looking to try and strike up a trade, all in the hopes of upgrading my team.

Fantasy anything - baseball, football, whatever - is a great way to feel as close to the game as anything outside of playing in it.

I feel like such a fan knowing what players are hot, what players are underachieving and what players are helping the Andro All-Stars keep such a firm hold on the sixth-place platform.

Fantasy scoring forces a manager to look for the complete player - one who will hit for power and average, drive in and score runs, steal bases and walk more than he strikes out.

Pitchers have to win or save games, throw a lot of innings, not give up earned runs and strike out hitters.

I have none of these so-called complete players.

Fantasy baseball’s biggest asset has to be the conversations it stimulates. The newsroom has been filled with trade talks and ethical conversations, ranging from the importance of a good walk-to-strikeout ratio to how long to hold on to a struggling player.

The way people have been talking is good for the game of baseball because it adds interest to what some would call a stale product.

Everybody is maneuvering, trying to pick up the hottest players and drop the disappointing ones.

Patience may be a good strategy, but I have no fun waiting for someone to produce.

The addiction to fantasy sports is the ease with which players can be added, dropped or traded.

Managers are in total control of their teams, and statistics are the only numbers that count, not salaries.

Fantasy baseball rights everything wrong with the actual game. And that is managers like Don Baylor and Lou Pinella in full uniform.

A fantasy manager only needs a computer, some strategy and the absence of Todd Hundley.

Dan Woike, a State News intern, can be e-mailed trade proposals for Todd Hundley or any other of his scrub players at woikedan@msu.edu.

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