Now I know I promised that this week I would regain my sanity, but unfortunately I can’t say for certain that I have. I feel like I’m back to normal, but I’m not even sure I was sane in the first place. Not that it matters. At least I don’t think it does.
Anyway, over the years, many people have asked me why I like baseball. My favorite way to respond is by simply stating that I like baseball because I don’t hate America and then asking them why they hate freedom so much. But that’s only most of the truth.
The other, much less important part of why I like baseball has to do with the community surrounding our national pastime. Baseball fans, with the obvious exception of Yankee fans, are generally good people. They are amiable and like little more than to sit and enjoy a hotdog and a beer while watching the game with a few friends.
I will, however, admit that baseball’s slow pacing makes it a hard sport to get in to, especially for a generation that is used to constant mental stimulation, often from multiple sources at the same time. There was a time when even I did not consider myself a baseball fan, or even a sports fan for that matter. It was a different time. I wasn’t quite as fat as I am now. Or wise, for that matter.
If you are looking for a way to get into baseball, you should consider trying your hand at some fantasy baseball. Not now, obviously. The season has already started and drafting in-season is just ludicrous. You’ll have to start next season, but I assure you that the wait will be worth it if you are genuinely interested. Fantasy baseball at its best is played with a group of friends, but if you don’t know enough people to create your own league, joining a random league with a bunch of strangers is not a bad option. Remember, most baseball fans are quite friendly (fat people are jolly), and would be happy to give advice or help to someone new to the game.
Fantasy baseball is great for amateurs because it forces you to learn about all the seemingly insignificant statistics and scenarios that make the sport so fascinating and complex. Now, you may ask yourself, Why would I want to do something that forces me to learn all that? Well, if you’d stopped thinking stupid things and kept reading instead, you’d find out why and I wouldn’t have had to write all this. Thanks for wasting my time, jerks.
Anyway, you want to learn it all because, once you do, fantasy baseball is more fun than it has any right to be. It is a game of knowledge and luck, skill and planning, trickery and alliances. It isn’t just about baseball. It’s about outsmarting your friends and finding ways to pick your team up when it seems like your season is lost. It is a great feeling to come from last place to take the trophy at the end of a season in which most of your picks turned out to be worthless bums that you dropped for undrafted players no one else noticed. Trust me, I’ve done it.
Once you get in to fantasy baseball, you will have no choice but to become a fan of the real sport. You’ll want to know who these players are that are screwing you over day in and day out. If you already have a favorite team, it will make you a fan of the sport in general. You’ll start to see what long-time fans see: the careful planning that goes into the daily lineups, how a batter or pitcher being a lefty or a righty affects the outcome of a matchup, the heart and grit and camaraderie that it takes to get a win and why every little number matters. Baseball may seem slow, but every moment is important, even when it seems like there is nothing happening at all.
You’re probably wondering where the advice is. After all, this is an advice column, and for the second week in a row I have not given advice related to fantasy baseball (that must be some kind of record). Yet, unbeknownst to you, I have given advice in this column, though it would be better classified as a plea. I want more people to like baseball. I want people who aren’t fans to become fans, and I want casual fans to become hardcore. I fear that baseball’s popularity is dying, and to let it go entirely would be a mistake. It’s our national pastime and it can teach us a lot.