I’ve never been particularly interested in fantasy sports, mostly because playing fantasy sports requires—what’s the word?—effort.
I’d have to prepare for drafts, devise trades with others in my league to spruce up my team throughout the year, watch the waiver wire, and deliberate over lineups week after week or day by day (depending on the sport). And, as someone who now writes about sports for a living (as an NBA Lead Writer for Bleacher Report), I figured I devoted so much of my time to watching, following and writing about sports as a job, so why would I also further involve sports in my recreational time?
(As if I have so many other, more important things to do and/or that I don’t have even the minimal amount of time needed to play fantasy sports properly…but I digress.)
On the other hand, as someone who’s followed sports closely, has a guilty-pleasure-style fascination with box scores and is surrounded by friends (and now co-workers) who engage in fantasy sports, I’ve always been intrigued by them. I’ve lent my opinion to friends on their fantasy dealings since high school, be it in football, baseball or basketball. I’ve given my two cents on lineups, recommended roster change,s and considered how to construct a complementary arrangement of players in the three major American sports (and occasionally in soccer) without ever fully and truly understanding the machinations of fantasy sports first-hand.
The closest I’ve ever come to playing fantasy sports? Playing MLB’s “Beat the Streak” back when I was 14 or 15. It was easy enough: I had a few go-to hitters, I checked their “vs. Pitcher” stats for five minutes every day on Yahoo! Sports, and I chose someone to get a hit that day. I practically alternated between Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez, with the occasional Melvin Mora appearance mixed in.
(Bet that last one threw you off, didn’t it? Kind of threw me off too, actually. Did you know Melvin Mora has quintuplets? Again, I digress.)
My streaks were never very long, but I did get hits most of the time. In any case, that was as close to a fantasy league as I’d ever come.
Until this year. I was invited to a Fantasy Basketball league with some of my fellow B/R NBA scribes. I figured, “Why not? If I’m ever going to do fantasy sports for real, I might as well do it with my cross-country colleagues on a sport about which we’re all pretty knowledgeable.”
So, I signed up. My team name: The Derrick Rosie O’Donnells. I’m a sucker for puns. My friends—especially my roommates—and family will gladly attest to that fact.
At some point, I’d known the date and time of the draft: 6 pm Pacific on a Sunday. But, as tends to happen on weekends, my mind was focused on non-sports things, like shopping for groceries, going out from time to time, visiting with family, and watching copious amounts of backed-up weekday staples, like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and primetime Sunday night programming—mostly HBO (Eastbound and Down, Hello Ladies, Boardwalk Empire) and Showtime (Homeland, occasionally Masters of Sex).
Naturally, the draft slipped by without me noticing. No pre-draft prep, no picks, no trades, no nothing. Just auto-pick after auto-pick, the only *’d selections of anyone in the whole darn draft. I’d screwed the pooch, apparently.
But, rather than drop out hopelessly with a team not of my own choosing, I’ve decided to persevere, with a sort of mini-sociological fantasy sports experiment, if you will.
(How fitting that a kid who lazily stuck to social sciences in college because they were “interesting” but also relatively easy would try to trump up his own sloth here as some sort of alternative “deep dive” into a familiar subject, right? My self-loathing knows no bounds. Once again, I digress.)
Anyhoo, starting with the opening tip of the 2013-14 NBA season, I will be playing through with the hand that “fate” has dealt me, to see if I can actually win—not out of hubris or cocky lethargy, but out of misguided “Ivory Tower” curiosity.
Without academic proposals, proper abstracts or hope for research funding, of course, or any intent or desire to do any of that. Remember, apathy is key.
But not complete apathy. I’ll be setting lineups day to day, hoping to rack up points and post victories from time to time. I’ll tell all you folks why I picked who I picked to play, and why I sat the others, however briefly. I’ll include injury updates, hot streaks and whatnot. I’ll post my picks quickly at the start of the day, and update them with results before the next. My goal is to win without being entirely competitive, if you will, all the while tracking my progress.
To keep things interesting, I’ll invite my friends and roommates (not a hoops expert among them) to set my lineup on occasion. They’ll tell you why they picked who they picked, whether it actually makes sense or not.
As “side quests” (for all you GTA lovers out there), I’ll see how long I can go without making a trade or picking someone up off the waiver wire. I’ll keep track of how many days I’ve gone without one, the other or both—my own personal stats, if you will. If I’m forced to do one, the other or both, due to injury, absence or lack of playing time for players, I’ll break down why I’m doing what I’m doing and subsequently restart the “no-transaction” clock. At the end of the season, I’ll do a full breakdown of my “no-transaction” streaks, look at my longest and shortest ones and see how successfully I managed to be the polar opposite of a “tinkerer.”
In essence, I will be Taco, without the silly costumes, the ridiculous business ideas or the strange songs, but hopefully with a similar sense fun and light-heartedness. I want to be the Lazy Man’s Guide to Fantasy Sports.
I may win, but I probably won’t. I’ll play fantasy sports, but not full throttle. I’ll be casual and carefully considerate, serendipitous but not too serious.
I’ll take suggestions from you, like the Peoples’ Fantasy Team. I might follow your advice—or even ask you guys to set my lineup for me. Who knows? I might even invite my other league mates to talk about their picks.
The point is to have fun, and to finally dabble in something I probably should’ve tried (and stuck with) a long time ago. And if it all works out, maybe we’ll all learn something and enjoy the process.
Next up…a frank (but optimistic) assessment of my fantasy draft “picks.”