Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Go Pit Bulls! Woo!

Today, a topic I know you've all been waiting for me to chime in on. It's a matter of such critical and wide-ranging importance I couldn't wait a minute more to bring it to your attention.

Yes, that's right ... my fantasy sports angst has returned.

A while back I told you about my new fantasy baseball team and promised not to make you endure lengthy posts about, say, maddening slumps by Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts or lingering concerns about the health of Padres starting pitcher Chris Young. And I've kept that promise, even when the nagging hamstring of Milton Bradley (the Padres outfielder, not the toy company) kept him out of my lineup for almost two weeks straight.

So I thought I would celebrate the successful return of Bradley, who made his first start since coming off the disabled list and had two hits, and the recording of my team's first "hold" by Phillies relief pitcher J.C. Romero by indulging myself to a post about their exploits.

Only I find myself far more consumed by anxiety over this Sunday's draft in my fantasy football league.

I've known about it for about a month now, ever since I foolishly accepted Jerry's invitation to join the league. Oh, it seemed like a great idea at the time, and I got to have a lot of fun naming my team the Rural Virginia Pit Bulls and finding cool photoshopped images of soon-to-be federal prisoner Michael Vick. If all fantasy leagues entailed was coming up with cheeky team nicknames, I would have clinched the baseball title this past weekend when I poked fun at a former Phillies general manager who went parachuting and got stuck in a tree. Indeed, evoking the name "Ed Wade Enjoys Arbor Day" would be like saying "The New York Yankees" if this were a comedy fantasy sports league.

But instead, they make you pick actual players, and actually track them to see how they're doing, and actually track other players not on your team as well, because you may actually want to pick them up and replace your actual players with them, because they may actually be doing better. It's actually a big pain in the ass, and the only thing that's actually much of a fantasy about fantasy sports is the fantasy that you could actually be doing something that actually has some productive meaning to your actual life. (I actually think the whole "actually" thing actually got a bit tired by the second sentence in this "actually" paragraph, actually.)

All of this came to a head today when I found myself actu ... er ... really watching ESPN's SportsCenter Fantasy Draft Special as though it were legitimate programming and not a criminal waste of the money I spend on cable. I intently listened as washed-up quarterbacks, struggling comedians and hack sportswriters debated their fantasy football selections as though they were presidential candidates discussing national health care plans.

It was only when I said to myself that Michael Smith, who reached for Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer with his first-round selection, is positioning himself as the Mike Gravel of this panel that I finally caught myself. I realized that all of this fretting is misplaced energy. Even if I'm too hungover from my birthday party the night before and miss Sunday's draft, a computer that probably knows far more than I ever could about third-down specialty backs and byzantine quarterback ratings will make my picks for me. And the primary duty of the people who are making their own picks is to not screw things up and make lively and often humorous banter for the entertainment of others in the league.

So it is about who comes up with the funniest nickname and who can post a link to the most amusingly embarrassing photo of Browns quarterback Brady Quinn after all.

Even so, I wrote down Nick Bakay's picks to use as a reference. Any man whose most notable show business role was voicing Melissa Joan Hart's animatronic cat can't lead you wrong.


Milton Bradley said...

Dear Chuck,

I think I speak for the rest of the Phlorida Phils when I say how disconcerted I am that you're thinking so much about your upcoming fantasy football draft. I came back early from an injury to help get you back in the race, and the rest of the guys are playing their hearts out. This can't be good for our morale. What do I need to do, knock in 10 runs in one game to get your attention? Please save some anxiety for us.

Chuck said...


Trust me, I'm anxious enough about the Phils. I spent several hours analyzing my roster last night and trying to figure out the best way to position myself for a move up the standings from here. I was so concerned with fixing problems that I neglected to bring Romero off the bench, thus sacrificing the hold I thought I got.

And as for you, Milton, I question the idea that you came back "early" from an injury. This was your first start since you got off the DL almost two weeks ago! Now I know why you got a reputation as a clubhouse cancer in Oakland.

In short, keep your head down, gain ground, catch Chinatown and then go after first place.