Why the All-Star Break’s Not All-Fun
Look, I love the All-Star break. Watching the Howards and Brauns of the world take aim at Tim Wakefieldesque fastballs in the Home Run Derby while the Mannys and Chippers soak it all in with camcorders in one hand and tykes in the other, that’s always cool. Seeing the AL and NL band together against one another with home field in the World Series on the line is a great twist. And if you’ve ever had the opportunity to attend a FanFest, you know what I’m talking about. I mean, who wouldn’t want the virtual experience of stepping into the batters box against Pedro in his prime?
So yeah, All-Star festivities are awesome and there’s no disputing it. There’s just one small problem.
No fantasy baseball for three days. Three days! That’s 72 hours. Or about 65 hours longer than the longest I’ve gone in between checking the progress of my squads these last three months and change. Chances are if you’re reading this column you’re nodding your head right now in acknowledgment of this hobby/sickness we share.
(Take some deep breaths, they help.)
Indeed, it only took that first day to slip into a full scale fantasy withdrawal. I’m not kidding; I woke up Monday — forgetting that it was that Monday, the one like no other from April through September — and per habitude groggily opened up Yahoo Fantasy Sports. I was horrified to discover that not only was I about to embark on my annual thrice-sunset fantasy fast, but Yahoo was performing site maintenance and the entire fantasy shebang was going to be shut down for at least 24 hours.
(Paper bags, they also help.)
So there I was, totally in the dark, no idea of what the latest standings were or what new smack talk was up on the rumor mill — two of the only things that can lighten up a Monday morning. Sure, it will be better Tuesday, but there still won’t be any pitching matchups to troll through or stats from the previous night to digest. The wait will continue.
Some of the sparse contingent of fantasy haters like to point out that it’s pure folly to invest so much time and effort into something that produces no monetary return other than prize pool money. (Yes, some of these folks call Wall Street home.) That notion introduces the other tier of this fantasy withdrawal we’re experiencing.
Work. Of the estimated 19.4 million fantasy sports participants in North America (according to Ipsos), I would assume a good deal of them are among the working class. I’d also surmise that a decent proportion of them probably feel something ranging from mild discontent to outright hate for their vocation. Fantasy is figuratively and — within this context — literally their escape.
Only fantasy baseball can allow someone to indulge a daily passion and also scorn a boss — all while on the clock. In other words, the list of people who scour fantasy stats on their own time is a lot shorter than the list of those who do it on their employer’s buck.
Take two of the guys in my league. One of them is an investment banker who spends so much time making sure he’s on top of all baseball intel I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew about Edinson Volquez before the Texas Rangers. The other is a public school teacher that the kids love because of all the movies he shows during homeroom while simultaneously bootlegging Wi-Fi and meticulously adjusting his roster before the night’s games. They, like so many during this mandated fantasy catnap, are feeling the emptiness and that sense of a loss of equilibrium.
I wish I had a remedy, but I don’t. My only intention is let you know that it’s aright, you’re not alone. There are lots of others out there just like you — starving souls, breathlessly waiting for Thursday to come, for that singular pursuit to resume.