Cassilo: Confessions of a fantasy sports addict

David Cassilo

In late March, everything looked promising. Spring training was finishing up, and it was time for the season to begin. My team looked strong, and after losing in the finals last year, it was championship or bust. The pitching looked especially dominant, with several young arms waiting to break out. The lineup was decent but would be enough to complement the pitching staff. This was the year that I would grab the title. As I sit here six months later, dreams have been shattered, days of my life have been wasted and my pride is a bit hurt, to say the least. No, I don’t play a real sport, nor am I talking about rooting for a professional team. This whole sad story is my latest summer as a fantasy baseball player.

To several readers out there, I’m sure the details of this story will make me seem like a pathetic boy who had a lot of free time this summer and cares way too much about things like whether or not Joakim Soria got a save last night. However, others most likely have similar dismal stories about their fantasy teams.

Fantasy sports have swept the nation in the past decade. They have increased interest in almost every sport. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, 16 million U.S. adults play some form of fantasy sports, which is approximately 22 percent of all U.S. men between the ages of 18 and 49. An even more astonishing number is the $3-$4 billion effect on sports caused by fantasy sports. Imagine that – billions of dollars based on a person’s ability to pretend to manage his own team.

The key word in all of this is “fantasy” because for those 16 million adults who play, it is fulfilling a fantasy of their own. An opportunity has been created for all the people out there who have said once in their life, “Why did he make that trade? I could be a better general manager than that guy.” Every Monday morning quarterback on earth now has the ability to begin second guessing their own moves.

To me, like any other sports fan, fantasy sports are one of the greatest inventions of the last century. As a fan of baseball above all, my passion was soon put into a local and highly competitive league with a group of my friends from high school. There was one simple goal that I constructed: win this fantasy baseball league. To all of you who have never taken part in one of these leagues, the following paragraphs will attempt to communicate the grueling day-by-day activity of a fantasy baseball player. You may laugh, smile and even cry out of pity for such a pathetic hobby, but remember, I am one of 16 million, so there has to be some reason we do it.

It all starts in early March. While the players are stretching and taking batting practice in Florida and Arizona, I am neglecting an ACS paper to waste countless hours on the computer ranking of my pitchers for the upcoming draft. The draft is the most important part of the entire season. It is 90 minutes and 21 rounds of madness, and if you are not prepared, it will cause you six months of being stuck with the likes of Juan Pierre and Scott Rolen. Eventually, the season comes, and after tinkering with your roster, you see what your boys can do. Like in MLB, optimism surrounds the entire league before you see just exactly what your team will do that season.

To say the season was a struggle for me would be an understatement. I was confident with World Wide Webb (my team named after the D-Backs ace pitcher), but that confidence soon led to questions and anger. Do you remember how to hit a baseball, Rafael Furcal? How is it possible both Rich Hill and Matt Cain could be in the bottom three in run support this season? Why did Nick Swisher go over a month without getting two hits in a game? What is wrong with you, Felix Hernandez? Questions like these arose through a trying season, but nevertheless, I made the playoff push. Key trades for Ryan Howard, Ichiro and Brandon Webb coupled with the free-agent additions of my new favorite second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Orlando Hernandez helped me overcome many obstacles mostly posed by that bum Rafael Furcal. In the final days of August, I secured the playoff spot in the standings and got ready for a postseason matchup with my mighty opponent’s team, Jeff Blauser.

It was going to be tough, and I knew that, but I had no idea what was about to happen. The potent Jeff Blauser smoked me in almost every category, most notably the 47 runs and 18 homers it accumulated over the span of seven days, which is the equivalent of a team hitting about three home runs and scoring almost nine runs everyday for a week. I was no longer facing Jeff Blauser but the New York Yankees. Needless to say, defeat was tough to handle. The World Wide Webb had been disgraced, and the brilliant seasons of Miguel Cabrera and Ichiro were put to waste. I had once again fallen short of my goal and began to reconsider if this was the most valuable way to spend my time. I licked my wounds and logged into my Yahoo! Fantasy Sports account, but instead of pressing “Baseball” I clicked “Football,” for it is September, and I don’t have a day to waste.

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David Cassilo is a sophomore from Chatham, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]