>>> Balls to the Wall
By staff writer Dan Opp
February 22, 2006

February 16th, this past Thursday, marked an important date in the lives of anxious sports fans everywhere. With the NFL playoffs over, the NHL on Olympic break, and the NBA on recess for All-Star weekend, there was little to turn to this past weekend for those in need of satiating their sports fix. What transpired on February 16th changed all of that. A new dawn has broken over sports country: pitchers and catchers have reported for spring training.

America’s Pastime is gearing up for another season and, as such, diehards and nerds across the land are gearing up for a newer tradition: fantasy baseball. For those new to this increasingly popular internet hobby, I will hopefully be able to shed some light on fantasy baseball and the people whose lives it consumes. For anyone familiar with or interested in it already, I have a challenge for you.

In essence, fantasy baseball tries to mimic the results of live Major League games, except its participants don’t use performance-enhancing drugs or get crazy boy-band ass. Many of them, however, are known to frequently adjust themselves. Every fantasy baseball participant “owns” a team (there often is a financial stake) and draftsplayers from across the league. As real-life games are played, the Major League players compile a wide range of statistics, which are then applied to fantasy teams. These fantasy teams are pitted against one another in one of two ways.

“I often come across people wondering where the appeal lies in all of this. Fantasy baseball is like any niche hobby, such as collecting stamps or being a Furvert.”

The first format, under which fantasy sports were founded, is called rotisserie. In it, teams are awarded points based on their production in a certain category relative to the rest of the teams in their league, similar to how a guy looks at a group of girls and immediately ranks in his mind who’d he do first, second, and on down the list—except, in this case, boobs are stolen bases and an ass is a home run. In a 10-team league, the best team in a given category would receive 10 points and the worst 1 point. At the end of the season, the final tallies in each category are added up and the player with the most points is crowned the champion of the league, at which point everyone but the guy who won forgets about the season altogether.

The second method, and the one I prefer, is head-to-head. In this method, teams face each other for a week at a time and battle head-to-head (hence the name) in any number of categories. At the end of the week, the team with the better mark in each respective category is awarded a win, while the other team gets a loss. These wins and losses are added up to determine standings for the fantasy playoffs. During the playoffs, teams face each other as in the fantasy regular season until only one team is standing. The reason that head-to-head is better than rotisserie, in my opinion, is very simple: shit talking. I find that the presence of a single opponent from week to week narrows my focus as to exactly whose self-esteem I’d like to destroy at any given time. Thus, I find it is far more fun to participate in leagues with my friends, wherein embarrassments past are brought to the forefront to aid one’s public humiliation. After all, what brings friends together better than some mutually enjoyable put-downs?

I often come across people not involved in fantasy sports wondering where the appeal lies in all of this. Honestly, I can’t accurately relay that to you. Fantasy baseball is like any niche hobby, such as collecting stamps or being a Furvert. You really have to try it for yourself and see firsthand whether or not you like it. If you’re into sports, I highly recommend giving fantasy baseball a try. If you’re into dressing up in an animal suit and having sex with similarly dressed weirdos, then perhaps you should try being a Furvert.

I myself have been involved with fantasy sports for several years now, and over this span of time, my buddies and I have created a little tradition to spice things up a bit. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I basically pioneered it. Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to toot my own horn, but I can’t reach. Anyway, the tradition is, at your own discretion, to try to come up with a clever name for your team using one or more of the players’ names from your squad. The toughest part about it is the fact that you are generally limited to 20 characters or less. Here are a few of the best, followed by the player’s name and a brief explanation:

Pounding Your PujolsAlbert Pujols

This was way too easy. The guy’s name is pronounced “poo-holes” for Christ’s sake.

Your Mom’s a DykstraLenny Dykstra
Eaton Ur Moms PosadaAdam Eaton, Jorge Posada

Some pretty standard mom bashing.

FoulkeTilTheySchmidtKeith Foulke, Jason Schmidt

This was a directed burn at one of my leaguemates who, after railing some chick on his floor, found a foul-smelling brown substance ground into the carpet.

Debbie Does OdalisOdalis Perez
Funky Cole MussinaMike Mussina

A couple pop culture references: the first refers to the porn classic Debbie Does Dallas. (Side note: I recently learned that Dallas is a male porn star. All along, I had assumed Debbie was doing the entire city of Dallas.) The second is a reference to Tone Loc’s Funky Cold Medina, bonus points on this one because Mike Mussina’s actual middle name was incorporated.

And my all-time personal favorite…

Explosive RenteriaEdgar Renteria

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Renteria was anything butt explosive last year. Pun INTENDED!!

Now that you may have finally gotten a laugh or two out of this article, it’s time to issue the aforementioned challenge. I’m starting a head-to-head league on Yahoo! fantasy baseball that I’m opening up to any PIC readers (or contributors) that want to join. More importantly, I’m specifically calling out Justin Rebello. Rebello, come out and get your whoopin’. If you want in on the league, send me an e-mail at [email protected] and I’ll hit you back with all the necessary info. The gauntlet has been thrown. Time to buck up.