Why so serious?

Everyone has been in that league—you know, the one where in August or maybe even July the people toward the bottom of the standings stop updating their lineup. This is how Chien-Ming Wang and Eric Byrnes find their way into starting lineups, even when they’ve been declared out for the year months ago. I’ve even been in public leagues where people treat the leagues like mock drafts; they draft and quit. There is Mock Draft Central now people! And it’s not public leagues I’m talking about; plenty of private leagues, even money leagues, suffer from the same quitting problem

Most of the time people quit because they feel they no longer have an impact on the league. They aren’t going to win anyway is what they say. But the truth is that once they stop following, they have a huge impact on the league. Kind of ironic. In roto leagues, teams can easily gain points they wouldn’t have if everybody was following in the counting categories like home runs and strikeouts. It changes everything. What bothers me the most though, is that a substantial amount of players cannot be acquired as they are left to rot on the roster of an owner that has quit. It is hard enough to find a team that is compatible with you for trading, and when your options are narrowed down it is just that more difficult.

You would think, however, that an “experts” league would be followed religiously and fought to the death over. That was not the case with a league of bloggers that Bob Taylor of Fantasy Hurler was in, and he was not shy about calling out the experts who stopped following. A couple of them did have a legitimate reasons for not following, but as Taylor pointed out, an explanation would have been nice.

Now, it is nothing new for bloggers to talk all the talk and not follow their own walk, but it raises the question, how seriously should we take fantasy baseball? Do we have a right to get angry and upset over those who quit, or are we acting too uptight and becoming too emotionally attached to something that is “just a game”?

About a week ago the same Bob Taylor raised that exact question, and here’s an excerpt on what he had to say:

Anyway, the point of playing fantasy baseball — as with all games — should be to win. And the best leagues, the ones that make playing fantasy baseball worthwhile, are the ones where every manager takes the game that seriously. A league with at least 12 managers who play hard from April to September will inspire intense rivalries, hilarious smack talk, legends of fierce championship battles from seasons past and all the things that make fantasy baseball great.

I agree with that statement whole-heartedly and I don’t think it could have been put any better. It is not because we are uptight, no-life losers that we desire leagues to be competitive, but rather because it’s those competitive, claw-and-scratch-with-your-nails-to-win leagues that bring out the most fun. And in the end, that’s a big part of what we’re after when we play fantasy sports: fun. The pursuit of happiness, if you will.

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