Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lost in a Fantasy World

Ah to be 7 years old again. Sitting in my room with my Steve Young poster on the wall, and my little rocking wooden horse, and a little piggy bank that had my entire life savings safely secured within its walls (about 3 dollars and 42 cents). The best part about being 7 years old in the 90's though? That's right, gameboy. My very first gameboy was large, square, and transparent. You could see the inner workings of that incredible machine, take Link on a quest to save Zelda, or jump on some crocodiles as Donkey Kong. Great memories. The game I played the most, and most of you played it as well, was Pokemon.

I got Pokemon Blue, and naturally my brother got the Red version. I was always more inclined to the aquatic creatures, so naturally the Blue version was more up my alley, even though both games are essentially the same. Anyways, after a while of playing the game, you start to build your "squad" of Pokemon so that you can beat all of the trainers, the Elite Four (the best of the best in the game) and become the number one Pokemon trainer of all time! Pretty exciting stuff. There was no bigger thrill then tinkering with your 6 Pokemon to figure out the best combination of speed, power, and skill set.

Now ever so often, a kid would come up to you and say, "What are the 6 Pokemon that you use?" And I would tell him my strategy, saying "Well I have my level 68 Blastoise in case he uses a fire type..." and so on until I'd told him my entire strategy. And then the kid would begin to tell me the Pokemon he uses, and his strategy, and I always had the same feeling, no matter what: Apathy.

I just didn't care. I really didn't want to hear about your level 70 Gengar, or level 42 Beedrill, or how you were just testing to see if Ditto was worth it to keep in your lineup. I just could never bring myself to want to hear about other people's Pokemon. It was an odd feeling, since I cared so much about how my strategy was working out, but couldn't give a rats behind what you were trying to do.

Fast forward a decade, and were in a similar situation. Fantasy sports have taken over the country. With the availability and the ease of having not just one, but multiple fantasy baseball, football, basketball leagues (GOLF EVEN!), people are more and more likely to join a league on a whim. Gone are the days where people sat around with spreadsheets scouring box score after box score. It's simply just a different world.

So now instead of Pokemon, we have real, live, professional athletes. Right now I'm in four different fantasy baseball leagues, one of them being for some serious money. I get all of my Buster Posey's, and my Adrien Gonzalez's, and that one relief pitcher from Japan who I heard might have some good stuff, and I try to construct a lineup as best as I can. And then one of the guy's in my fantasy league will come up to me, and start asking whether or not he should sit Vlad Guerrero since he's been slumping.

And I just don't care. Don't get me wrong, I love fantasy sports. Love the idea behind it. But I just don't get the appeal of talking about it for sometimes hours on end when you really have no control over how it plays out. It's a crapshoot. Some people get really, really invested in it, and that's fine. I just get the feeling that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Love your fantasy team with all your heart. Turn the internet upside down for scoops on who should have a breakout year. But if you come to me with "Want to hear my starting lineup for fantasy baseball?", I'm going to respond with "Want to hear about my Charizard?"

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