By Ray Lesser
I can’t swing a bat without throwing out my back, and when I slide into second my knee swells up to the size of a softball, but that doesn’t stop me from playing baseball. Fantasy baseball, that is. Played on the internet, fantasy baseball allows you to get a feel of what it would be like to be a despicable, insensitive owner and manage a team filled with primadonna superstars, without the burden of forking over multimillion dollar contracts to each of them, keeping them medicated and surgically repaired, or acting pleasant to their greedy agents over cocktails. Managers get to draft a team of big league ballplayers whose actual on-the-field performances are automatically tracked by the internet server, which spits out cumulative team statistics and standings. One manager might have a team filled with hitters like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, and get a lot of points in hitting categories like home runs and RBIs, while another manager’s strategy might be to draft pitchers like Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez and get points for how many times they start bench-clearing brawls by throwing beanballs at opposing batters.
Fantasy baseball is a great substitute for another fantasy internet sport many Americans played over the past few seasons: the stock market. There’s no risk of losing your retirement money on sure-fire business ideas that nobody has ever heard of before (“Let’s buy Virtual Wire! They’re developing wireless wire that’s sure to become the standard in all wireless devices. At least that’s what the elevator operator told me, and he should know, because he overhears many important sounding conversations.”) Yet fantasy baseball satisfies the same yearning as day trading: To sit on your butt in front of the computer and beat all the other players by clicking your mouse the fastest.
My fantasy baseball strategy has evolved over the past couple seasons. The first year I drafted my favorite players based on their entire careers. I was in it for the long haul (or at least one whole season). This compares with the buy and hold theory of investing; buy generally boring companies like General Electric, General Motors, and General Mills, and hang onto them until it’s time to retire and go fishing. My team drifted through the season in the middle of the pack. Where’s the excitement in that? This is America: I want to win, and I want to win now!
I started dumping players who weren’t having good seasons, and picking up others from the waiver pool of surplus players who were. But my team was still mediocre, so I began getting rid of players who were having bad months and picking up free agents who were having good ones. Then I started getting rid of players who were in slumps for a week, and picking up players who were on hot streaks. If a player had a sore shoulder or leg, he was a dead racehorse. The ideals of despot capitalism were revealed to me. There was a huge surplus of labor available, for literally nothing. There was no need to stick with a player just because he had served me well in the past. The only important thing became “what have you done for me lately.”
This month a players strike, or owners lockout, threatens to end the baseball season before the World Series. This would also effectively end the fantasy baseball season, in the middle of some very close races (which a lot of money is riding on, by the way). Well, I say to hell with them! We don’t need greedy baseball owners or players to play fantasy baseball. All we need are computers and statistics. We can have the computers create fantasy statistics. Just make up some numbers, the same way Worldcom, Enron, and a host of other fantasy capitalists did. It didn’t make a difference to investors whether companies were actually creating anything of value to our society, as long as the price of their stock kept going up. If people can keep playing the game, who cares what’s happening in the real world?
In fact, while we’re at it, why do we need to have a real democratic government? Hardly anybody votes or participates in democracy anymore. The candidates that do run are all completely indebted to rich special interests long before they’re even qualified to be on the ballot. Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler and quicker for the people running the government if they could just ignore all the laws and the constitution, and just rule by fiat? As long as we remain the #1 superpower in the world, and have plenty of gas for our cars, and time to watch our favorite programs on TV and play in our fantasy baseball leagues, why would anyone object?