Fantasy Sports Is for the Nerds
A couple of my favorite childhood memories take place in a dark room with a bright screen. One time it was a lock-in for a Boy Scouts function when I was twelve years old (YEAH I TIE KNOTS WANT TO FIGHT). My friends and I stayed up all night, drinking Mountain Dew and playing Nintendo 64 classics like Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart. Another, a LAN party with two consoles and two TV’s playing Halo. Accusing the others in the room that they were “screen-peeking” and, once again, drinking Mountain Dew. I wouldn’t consider these behaviors cool and they certainly didn’t make me into a cool adult. So, perhaps, I was a bit of a nerd in school. Edit: I was also in Chess Club. Carry on.
Sports on the other hand is where the nerds are exposed. Dark rooms and bright screens are replaced by games at night played under bright lights. This is maybe where I differed from the other nerds. Playing baseball and other sports until my senior year (just town ball level…calm down) got me outside to where the people and the things are. As time moved on, my participation in sports regressed to the mean of the other nerds and I went from intramurals in college to none at all as an adult.
Later into High School and definitely in College, I was introduced to the rare meeting of the two circles of a Venn diagram. Where I could nerd out on a computer with my friends, but we could talk about sports, so it was cool. This happened to be Fantasy Sports. Making sure to position yourself 3-steps back into a fly-ball so you could get proper momentum for a throw into the infield and never swinging on an 3–0 count were replaced with WHIP and ERA. Knowing your blocking schemes and knowing the difference between a corner and a slant route was replaced with YAC and QBR.
Draft day is the best day of fantasy, in my opinion. I’m not one to make many moves during the season, so this is essentially my squad for the rest of the year. A couple of hours of research usually goes in to see who was the best value for their average draft position in the prior year, projections, players who are most likely to break out or bust. If you are lucky enough to draft with others, take a moment to step back and look at the faces of the others you will be competing against. You notice the light, but its not direct. It’s something familiar to a time gone-by where the keyboard and mouse are replaced with a game controller. The projections and players are replaced with attributes and avatars. Your fantasy draft is a LAN party.
In a way I’m thankful. I’m thankful that sports has gone away from the 70-year old scouts at Texas baseball games with scouting reports with comments like “has a live-arm” and “the ball really jumps off of his bat” see these old scouting reports on Derek Jeter and Tom Seaver. Now we have stats like fly-ball-rate, on-base-percentage, UZR and K/9. Scouting has shifted to the Jonah Hills of the world.
Sabermetrics is leading Baseball into the future and is virtually used in every player transaction of the past decade. There are still opponents to this forward thinking, however. In an article last year, Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage spoke out against “nerds” in baseball saying, “The game is becoming a freaking joke because of the nerds who are running it. I’ll tell you what has happened, these guys played Rotisserie baseball at Harvard or wherever the f*ck they went and they thought they figured the f*cking game out. They don’t know sh*t.” It almost looks like he said that right to Jonah Hills face, I mean look at him he’s heart-broken.