Every now and then, this column will focus on things that I missed out on as everybody else initially embraced. Once I finally gave said thing a shot, everybody else was an old hand in it, leaving me the dumb rookie who has no clue what’s going on while everybody else yammers about it like they were born with the knowledge of how to do it. In case you’re the kind of person who hates reading titles, I recently played fantasy sports for the first time, despite so many others doing it for years and years at this point.
Let me put it this way; for the longest time, I considered fantasy sports to be Mila Kunis, Taylor Swift, and Natalie Imbruglia running around, tackling each other, and wrestling for the ball while rain poured down all over them. And this would happen over and over and over again, regardless of the score. I realize that’s probably an old joke, the whole fantasy-girls-doing-fantasy-sports things, but I didn’t know any better. And you gotta admit; I picked a good starting line-up.
But I was challenged this year to do real (or at least as real as it gets) fantasy football, which is a great sport for beginners like me, as they only play once a week and you have a lot of time to pick your players. It’s also a great sport for forgetful types like me, as they only play once a week and you only have to remember to pick these players once a week. How people do fantasy baseball, where every team plays damn near every day, 162 times each, is absolutely beyond me. I tried fantasy basketball and didn’t make it two months before I kept forgetting to update my daily lineup and suddenly deciding it would be useless to continue. Because really, once you fall behind in your free fantasy league where there’s no money on the line, you really stand no shot at winning all that nothing. Might as well move on to more nothing.
Am I rambling again? Of course I am; it’s my gimmick. Back to point: how did the fantasy football turn out? Not bad, actually. I certainly did better than the guy who challenged me, who went 7-7 and missed the playoffs. I went 9-5 and made the playoffs, all after winning my first 5 games in a row, which was awesome. Less awesome was going 4-5 the rest of the way (and losing in the first round of the playoffs), but since this is my column, we’re not going to talk about that any more.
Fantasy’s weird; it’s truly the antithesis of team sports. Real sports teams are successful when they sacrifice individual ideals for the greater good of helping the team win. Many a player has mediocre individual stats, but enough rings to fill up at least one hand. And at the end of the day, most of these athletes are all about winning, and helping the team win. Fantasy, meanwhile, is all about the individual: how many points they score, how many yards they run, how many strikeouts they make, how many cheerleaders they get drunk and…well, never mind that last one. Again, totally different fantasy league.
My fantasy quarterback was Peyton Manning: superstar athlete, shameless endorsement whore, and master Oreo licker. Instead of Peyton Manning and the Colts sacrificing individual stats, lobbing short passes and varying amongst several receivers, in favor of pursuing the ultimate team stat (winning the damn game), I found myself rooting for Manning to light up everybody, garner a few hundred yards and a couple touchdowns per game, while hoping the rest of the team would crap the bed while still sleeping in it and lose the game for him. This only sometimes happened, and not often enough for my tastes.
I will likely continue to play fantasy, at least fantasy football. Once a week and I’m done, sounds perfect for me. Besides, NFL.com roped me in by offering a playoff fantasy league where the winner gets tickets for next years Super Bowl. Of course, there’s a decent chance the game won’t even be played, due to the pending lockout brought on by really rich people squabbling over how much richer they should be allowed to become. I’m in 98,000th place heading into the Super Bowl, which means less than 100,000 people remain that I need to hunt and kill. But mark my words: if I win, there will be no Super Bowl next year. I’m lucky like that.