Posted by: exileindixie | April 15, 2010

On Fantasy Baseball Writing

“You’re writing a blog about fantasy baseball?  You think that winning the league a few times has gone to your head, maybe?”

–Hulk Smash, a fellow competitor in my hometown league

So let’s start the fantasy baseball commentary with some meta-writing.  Why not?  Self-publication is inherently pretentious, so no need to hold-back when it comes to obnoxious statements of personal intent without any body of work to serve as a foundation.

There are a few inherent issues with amateur fantasy baseball writing.  The first is that there are several professional and semi-professional outfits that provide outstanding fantasy baseball news, and a working stiff like me just can’t compete.  In fact, the only site that I know of that can compete is razzball.com, and that’s only because those guys are complete and total badasses (and may secretly be professionals, or at least should secretly be professionals – I effing love those guys).

The second issue is more of an issue with fantasy baseball players.  It’s what Dan Okrent calls Okrent’s razor, the gist of which is as follows: fantasy baseball players’ favorite thing to talk about his own team, and his least favorite thing to do is listen to other people talk about their teams.  That is to say, if you go to a party and disappoint your date by striking up a conversation with someone about fantasy baseball, you don’t really  have a conversation; rather, you take turns exhausting a story about your own personal successes or failures, forcibly seizing the conch anytime the other guy takes a breath.

Taking these issues to their logical conclusion, here’s a practical explication (and yes, sadly, this next part can fairly be called “auto-biographical fiction”).  Let’s say you like Ryan Zimmerman and wish he was on your fantasy team.  You are considering trading for Ryan Zimmerman, and want some combination of statistical insight and expert guarantees that Ryan Zimmerman will have a better season than the player you’re giving up.  So you read up on your own.  You consult with the blurbs on your fantasy site of choice, or you check the advanced numbers on fangraphs.  You still can’t decide, so you pull out all the stops.  You ask other league mates and hope they shoot you straight (this time).  You send pleading emails to Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz’s podcast.  You breakdown and buy subscriptions to baseballhq.com and Rotowire in hope that they’ll tell you who’s better (even though all those disclaimers say, “sorry, we’re wrong a lot of the time”).  You go to Razzball and comment something like “LOL, so funny what you said about Jimmy Rollins’ injury!  Seriously, though, here’s my whole roster.  Would you trade Pablo Sandoval and Howie Kendrick for Ryan Zimmerman?”  You may even watch some baseball games.  And in the event that you get advice from any of those sources, you may or may not care to follow the advice, but you’re probably going to hear what you want.  You’re a freaking addict, no one can predict what random signifier will come to you at the right moment to tip the scales one way or the other.  You are legitimately neurotic and obsessed with controlling the uncontrollable.  Advice is just another drink, and eventually you’ll end up wasted and shouting, “I love Ryan Zimmerman!  He’s the best thing ever!” Or some variation on the opposite.  BUT!  Nowhere in this scenario do you actually want anecdotes or jokes about someone else’s quest to acquire David Wright, unless said anecdote or joke ends with a credible point of view on your own quest for Ryan Zimmerman.

So.  I want to bring some whimsey to one-sided written conversations about fantasy baseball.  I don’t have the time or the inclination to aggregate the daily news.  I won my mixed keeper head to head league three years in a row, but I also finished last in my NL keeper league and dumped before Memorial Day last year, so I’m not a savant.  I’m not above any of the behavior I just described.  What can I possibly hope to say that’s valuable and that wasn’t already said four hours ago?

Well.  I’ve just shared a bunch of indirect criticism as a substitute for quality output.  Further to the opening paragraph, I will really need to create a body of work to address the question.

But if I rally from this debacle and actually try to write something of substance about fantasy baseball, I can hazard a guess as to what the next post will look like.  It will go something like, “I love you Corey Hart!!!  They left you for dead but I believed!!!  Now please carry my team!!!”

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