Father & Son Playing Fantasy Baseball

There is nothing better than a dad taking his children to a baseball game, and watch through their eyes as they follow the game, cheer for their favorite players, and hold their glove, anticipating a foul ball. For the more interested child, we dads take it a step further, buying a program or scorecard, using the little pencil they provide, and tracking each at bat, recording a moment in time for eternity.

I take my son to baseball games every year. My daughter comes less frequently, but she comes. She cares less, much less, about the statistics and the specifics about each at bat. They both pay attention because more than anything else, they want to catch a foul ball. Beyond that, the level of interest diverges. She will know a player here and there (mostly Yankees because that is the team I follow) but she could not care less who wins, who loses and what players do what. I do. And my son does. At a game, he and I will keep score, track each at bat, record the play by play and try to learn, not just baseball, but math as well. (The math part applies to my daughter too. I will pepper them with math challenges related to the game. It keeps them on their toes.)

Waiting for a game to begin with my kids

Short of going to a ball game, fantasy baseball is a good alternative to father-child bonding. Unlike watching a ball game on television, fantasy baseball with your child can last for more than just a moment in time, a fastball clocked at 98MPH.

Last night, my son and I prepared his fantasy baseball draft. His league was drafting Starting Pitchers, and he was playing for the first time in a National League league. Neither of us know the NL very well — we are both Yankee fans and spend more time following the junior circuit — but we sat there in front of the screen, prioritizing and ranking our pitchers. Aaron Nola? Never heard of him before last night but now we know he will be in the Phillies rotation. Okay, the Phillies may not be the best team but we were looking to get starting pitching cheap, without paying a fortune and in Baseball Manager, innings pitched and quality starts are important. Wins don’t matter so we don’t care that the Phillies may not win many games. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch, and my son and I discussed that. And it was fun sitting there and talking about strategy, debating where to rank every player. Just my son and me. No iPhone distractions, no iPad games calling him away. My son, me, fantasy baseball. And I guess Aaron Nola.

I am not playing in the same league with him. I thought of that. But this is way more fun. He is eleven, and the game should not be about competing with dad. It should be about father and son bonding about baseball, the players, and the daily strategy that goes into Baseball Manager. This morning, immediately after breakfast — and before school — we went to his team page and reviewed the draft results from last night. Our starting pitching talent is not strong. But we have quality starters — Steven Matz and Jonathan Niese for example — that we got for a very low price. We now have plenty of money to build a batting lineup. In fact, we have the most money remaining of any team in our league which puts us in the driver seat for the next few rounds, beginning tonight with outfielders.

So, tonight, and for likely every night between now and the last game of the MLB season, my son and I will talk — after dinner and after his homework is complete — about his fantasy baseball team. We will discuss Bryce Harper, Corey Seager and Buster Posey. We’ll debate whether Kris Bryant will have a monster year and whether Joey Votto is the best first baseman. He’ll insist we get someone who steals bases and I will have to explain to him some basic rules of sabermetrics that permeate Baseball Manager. Over time he will comprehend how all the data — ABs, Hits, Stolen Bases, Total Bases, Errors, Innings Pitched — weave together to create the ultimate game formula. Soon, too soon I am sure, he will understand the Baseball Manager game formula better than I do.

Chances are high that we will also talk about his day at school, his friends. He will probably ask me some challenging questions about life, and science for which I will have no answer. (for instance, why is it colder at higher elevations if we are closer to the sun. okay, i looked it up. the answer is here.) We will talk about the things he likes, dislikes, his dreams and aspirations. He will ask me about my day, my thoughts and probably ask questions about what I liked doing when I was his age. We’ll talk baseball and more until it is time for him to go to bed. What more could a dad want.

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