HILLARY SMITH: Fantasy baseball is fantastic in reality

2013-05-26T20:00:00Z 2013-09-16T19:00:13Z HILLARY SMITH: Fantasy baseball is fantastic in realityHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 26, 2013 8:00 pm  • 

This is an actual email that appeared in my inbox this week: "Granderson is on the 15-day DL with a broken finger. I put Dayan in for DeAza … he's hitting .341."

Here's some context. My significant other and I co-own a fantasy league baseball team.

This is our second year, and ladies and gents, if there's anything to challenge your relationship as much as it could draw it closer, a fantasy team will do it.

We bargain, barter, bicker and bend and that's just to decide who will start in the outfield.

For fantasy newbies, here's the gist of simple fantasy baseball: each team has every position player, plus a utility man, so there are nine options for offensive production. There are spaces to start two starting pitchers, two relievers and three open pitchers (starters or relievers), so there are seven options for pitching production.

Points are received based on your team's hitting and pitching over the course of a week vs. the other team's hitting and pitching. If our collective team hits six home runs and the opponent's collective team his five home runs, we earn a point. There are a possible 10 points for everything from stolen bases to batting average to total strikes and WHIP.

A year ago, I recruited my co-manager to join me because fantasy baseball requires constant care, which during the summer means a manager has to be watching the lineups as they're released by MLB teams. That would be just about the time I'm usually watching Munster vs. Andrean baseball or Lake Central vs. Crown Point.

So I coerced some time out of someone who I knew would be more than happy to have a pass to watch more baseball.

We picked up players from my Detroit Tigers and several from his White Sox. Three weeks in, he finally said to me: "I can believe I'm rooting for the Tigers so our pitcher gets a win. What have you done to me?"

When he calls with a recommendation to drop a pitcher and pick up another, I've learned patience.

I'm sure he has too, as I adjust the roster after he's already set it up as perfectly as he can.

We have too many outfielders, we've already decided. So now we have to decide what to do with all of them. Who starts, who doesn't?

Couples counselors, are you listening? Fantasy baseball: it's a solution.

We talk about hitters he's never heard of, or pitchers that are up and coming. We're not talking about work, or the house, or problems of daily life.

It's fantastic communication.

If baseball isn't your sport, there's fantasy programs for almost anything you can watch on ESPN: basketball, football, hockey, college football, golf and NASCAR.

In our first season last year, we decided that if we won back any portion of our $25 filing fee, we'd be happy.

We came down to the last week before the playoffs, and needed a miracle. We entered the last night of games with our opponent playing a 7 p.m. pitcher that would guarantee a win and put us out of the money.

It was OK, we'd decided. We tried, we learned, we knew how we wanted to draft better the next year.

Then we had our miracle: The 7 p.m. pitcher was pulled.

We'd done just enough to finish in the playoffs for the grand prize.

We lost the next week and finished with $28. We bought a pizza, and discussed how we'd play better next year.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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