Since 2001, I was a part of something bigger. I spent each night piecing together the puzzle. I spent hours of personal time scouring through the statistics of nobody minor league baseball players, hoping that I was “finding” someone a bit more special than another sleeper. I spent years getting to know a group of men who lived across the country, wasting their time in the same way, and they became my best friends. So goes the life of a fantasy baseball player in a keeper league, but, today, that life died.
You see, after over 25 years of service, the site that housed this addiction for me and my buddies suddenly disappeared – six days before the season – without warning. It wouldn’t be a big deal, it shouldn’t be, had it not meant so much more than just a hobby. My best man, my cousin, was in the league with me, as was my best friend, a man I have only been around three times in the 10 years that I’ve known him. The game brought us together, a brotherhood and fraternity of geekiness that is unmatched by…anything.
With less than a week before the season, the group of men who played a game about a game were left scattered, frantically searching for a new way to fill the statistical nerd desires that can’t be filled by real-life baseball, beer, or even our better half (sorry, honey). Yes, fantasy sports continue to become bigger than life, and while many people find comfort in fantasy football, it took a special group of people to love fantasy baseball the way that this group did, discussing signings and the happenings of baseball in the middle of an NFL season, even while major networks were cramming football down our throats.
Dynasty baseball leagues are different than the typical nerdy behavior of fantasy geeks. You can’t be taken seriously unless you’re as active as A.J. Preller was in San Diego this past winter. You need to be on your game all of the time, as even your friends will take advantage of you when a championship or an elite minor league player are at stake.
So, after 14 offseasons of effort, building, manipulating a roster and other human beings with a fake team, real players, and real relationships, it is all gone. I’ll find solace in the fact that there are other options, but you can’t replace years of lost effort and the people who become a family.