Does Fantasy Ruin The Love of The Game?

By Blake Chadwick

Alright picture this nightmare scenario. Your favorite team, in this case we will say the New York Mets, have a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the 9th on the road vs. division rival and widely despised Philadelphia. There are 2 on and 2 out with Ryan Howard at the dish. The caveat is you own Mr. Howard. To make things even more spicy, your opponent has Mets closer, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez. On a 3-2 pitch, Howard JACKS one to deep right field sealing the deal with a walk-off 3 run HR. So fantasy wise, your now golden. Your opponent blows a save and you add a HR, 3 RBI, a run and an inflated OPS in one swing. You pump your fist with excitement as that play put you over the top and won your weekly series. After a few minutes, you realize you just went ballistic for not only a Phillies win, but a Mets loss. A walk off nonetheless against one of your chief rivals. This brings up the point, does fantasy baseball ruin ones love for the game? For me, it definitely can get in the way at times and forces me to snap out of it. Sometimes, the numbers crunch and statistical analysis overtakes simple balls and strikes. I would love to hear how this affects others. The best remedy is to go out to the ballpark and soak it all in. Before you buy your tickets, just make sure your ace is on the hill.

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4 comments

  1. Aaron

    Fantasy baseball, if anything, has only rejuvenated my love of the sport. Rather than only paying attention if my favorite team is in contention or during the playoffs, my participation in fantasy makes even a random game between the Reds and the Giants, two teams I wouldn’t otherwise care about, relevant because I’ve got Johnny Cueto on the hill for me tonight.
    I also watch baseball in a different and more detailed way than I did before I started playing. I’ll pay closer attention to a pitcher’s velocity or control, for example, or note a batter’s patience and slugging ability so that I can better evaluate a player’s fantasy value. Similarly, I wouldn’t care about sabremetrics and VORP, BABIP, FIP etc. if it weren’t for fantasy. Knowing about and using these statistics has made me a more knowledgeable, and hence more passionate baseball fan.
    The only conflict occurs when your fantasy team’s stats are at odds with the success of your favorite real life team. I play roto, where these types of situations aren’t as severe as the head-to-head scenario you outlined above. Whether Howard hits a 3-run HR or K-Rod blows the save wouldn’t affect my stats so much in the grand scheme of things. So I’ll always root for my favorite team in these types of situations, and just hope that it doesn’t result in my fantasy starting pitcher shitting the bed.

  2. Ivan Berliant

    I totally agree with the statement that fantasy baseball has made the irrelevant games now relevant; night in and night out I’m watching the Houston Astros (22-35) just to see Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee go deep . But when playing H2H, a single player’s performance can drastically affect your record. One blown save from a closer at 11:20 p.m. on a Sunday night(cough cough David Aardsma) can lose you any combination of WHIP, ERA or K/9, the same is true with one swing of the bat.

    Chase Utley and I have a love/hate relationship.

    • Aaron

      The drama of a last-minute H2H matchup is the only redeeming quality of that format, in my opinion. I’m more of a roto guy, but that is a debate for another column.
      Moving to NY has caused me to like the Mets a lot more than I did when I just rooted for them more or less because of the Tides; they’re now on the verge of becoming my new favorite team. (My situation is largely is the opposite of you guys, as the Dolphins and Heat will always be my favorite NFL/NBA teams, unless perhaps the Knicks put out an LBJ-Wade-Bosh lineup next year.)
      My affinity for the Mets didn’t stop me from getting upset yesterday when Francoeur’s 3-run HR ruined Ricky Nolasco’s shot at a win. On the one hand, it was sort of sort of liberating to be able to root for the Mets without feeling conflicted. On the other hand, I really could’ve used that Nolasco W.

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