Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fantasy Baseball and Pornography

I invited a friend to join a fantasy baseball league a couple years back. His wife happened to look at his computer and was shocked to see the words "Invitation" and "Fantasy" in his email in-box. "I was worried about what he might be involved in," she told me later.

And in a way, the confusion is not entirely misplaced. I slink into my office to see if Edgar Renteria drew a walk or if J.J. Putz managed to get another strike out. I don't like my wife to catch me checking baseball stats when I should be fixing the sprinkler system or grading papers. I'm forced to hide my addiction.

On a more serious note, since the fantasy baseball users (emphasis on "user") are almost exclusively men who have time to surf the web, the advertisements displayed with the Yahoo leagues are very much geared to that demographic. In other words, the word "fantasy" is not just an innocent reference to sports.

I do miss the old rotisserie leagues when I sat down with other managers and a copy of USA Today's baseball stat sheets in someone's basement to conduct the draft. In those days we had to call the commissioner to make roster changes. (My brother once ran my team for me while I was out of town and he realized that if he read the morning paper he would see the stats before the commissioner--who subscribed to the afternoon paper--and could add players who had already hit home runs, or stolen bases, etc. The mother lode.) There was also constant calculating... I lost count of how many calculators I burned through figuring out WHIP in the old days (walks + hits divided by innings pitched).

I confess to some nostalgic longing here, but those old leagues did have the advantage of forming a human social network that is largely lost in the internet age.

"Fantasy" baseball reflects a broader social trend where face to face interaction is being replaced by screen to screen interaction. I have introduced people from my fantasy league who have never met in person and have to do so by their screen name... The ensuing conversation is usually about as long as, "Oh... hi." It seems they prefer knowing the other player's avatar to knowing the real, sentient being who clicks the mouse.

But I suppose ignoring my family to check on Nick Swisher's batting average is still better than ignoring them to check on... well... statistics on another type of Fantasy site.

4 comments:

scott said...

I dunno: maybe one is sublimating the other! In that case.....

Corry Cropper said...

haha

you may be right but I'd rather not examine the ramifications of that sublimation....

I'm like the happy old lady in Voltaire's Histoire du bon bramin: blissful ignorance is best.

scott said...

no more posts?... maybe you're busy exploring that sublimated desire after all?

Corry Cropper said...

Actually sublimating desire by re-tiling my bathroom...