With Opening Day drawing near, it's time for fantasy players to gear up for an adventurous run that lasts six months and 162 games.
For novice owners who are unsure of what to expect, here's a month-by-month guide to how your fantasy season will evolve. Details may vary, but probably not too much.
The season has just started, and you're so excited with what's to come that you will watch any baseball game that has even a remote effect on your fantasy team. I'm not talking about a Rockies-Padres game because you own Troy Tulowitzki and Adrian Gonzalez. I'm talking about watching (or as you like to refer to it, "scouting") the seventh inning of a 13-3 Nationals-Pirates tilt to see if Nyjer Morgan's speed is all that it's cracked up to be. You clutch your stopwatch like a third-grade Phys. Ed. Teacher during the shuttle run and sit with baited breath. The thing is, you don't even own Nyjer Morgan. No one does. But you envision a time where this day might come ("Hey, steals are hard to come by, man!").
You tell your roommate that you won't be able to make it to the gym today because you are about to watch "poetry in motion." Whatever that means. You sense that he is about to ask if this is some elaborate April Fool's Day joke until you realize that it's April 24. OK, then.
With six weeks of the season in the books, you start freaking out over Rickie Weeks' .094
average -- he is, after all, your seventh-round pick and "breakout sensation" (your lingo, not mine). You frantically pace around your apartment like a crazed Russell Crowe from "A Beautiful Mind," mumbling complete nonsense and something about BABIP being the new OPS. You decide to take matters into your own hands. You tell your roommate that you will be in Milwaukee next week "on business." He's about to bring up the fact that you have been unemployed for the last five months until he realizes that this means he won't have to see you and deal with your shenanigans for a full six days.
Unfortunately for him, you return from your "business" early after the Brewers file a restraining order against you because of your constant heckling, verbal abuse and an unfortunate incident that took place during the Sausage Race. You are no longer allowed within a 30-foot proximity of Miller Park. No more Brewers games. No more "scouting." No more Sausage Races.
You cancel your eight-day summer vacation trip to Dubai, which your buddies spent five weeks planning, after it has come to your attention that a 12-hour plane ride means 12 hours with no high-speed Internet. Sensing that the Giants could change their closer at any moment, this is a sacrifice that simply cannot be made. You tell your pals you will make it up to them with a weekend road-trip excursion to a destination of their choice: Duluth, MN or Youngstown, OH. Apparently all the hotels in Siberia were already booked. Whatever. Your team is in fourth place and you sense a surge on the horizon.
With your trade deadline looming, you purchase your third Pay-As-You-Go cell phone as you try to hammer out some last-minute deals with your league mates, or as you strangely call them, "The Enemy." You are a day behind schedule because you spent your entire Thursday going over potential easy-to-reach cell-phone numbers with your AT&T guy. After passing up on 1-888-IH8WHIP and 1-777-OBP4LIFE, you settle on 1-800-IHEARTMOLINAS; 4,400 cell minutes later, you somehow manage to swap Nyjer Morgan and his 38 stolen bases for a slow-starting Mark Teixeira ("How you like them apples, Dave?"). Clearly, fictitiously smack-talking in a make-believe fantasy column is not above you.
There are two months of ball left, and your team seems to be frozen in third place. You've tried everything to shake things up. Things reach an apex of desperation when -- after going 33 days without shaving to help "boost the morale" of your squad and help infuse some "team unity" -- you actually drop a few points in the standings.
You hit the low of lows on a certain Tuesday night when you make a mad dash to your computer (or as you call it, "Mission Control") to add Joe Crede after his three-homer game, only to see that the guy in dead
last -- the same one who hasn't made a roster move since May 4 -- already beat you to the punch. Twelve points out of first, you see that you have Buckley's chance of taking home the crown and proceed to bench your entire squad for two games, citing "disciplinary reasons."
After dropping all the way down to sixth place, you've officially reached a meltdown of Jessie Spano proportions ("I'm so excited! I'm so exciteeeed! I'm so ... SCARED!"). You start to realize that maybe spending 21 hours a day on your team was a bit much. That maybe writing out a full lineup card everyday was kind of excessive. That perhaps all the pantomiming of baserunning signals in the mirror was a tad over the top. And that wearing the same "lucky" Placido Polanco Giveaway underwear for 42 straight days was just a bad idea for you and anyone in your proximity. But that's OK. You chalk it up to a "lesson learned" and almost convince yourself that winning doesn't matter and that you play fantasy simply "for love of the game."
That is, of course, until you realize that your restraining order expires in two weeks and that Spring Training is only five short months away.
They say that Dubai is nice at that time of year.