Last month, I wrote a somewhat controversial post on the problem with quitters in fantasy baseball. Predictably, not everyone was happy with the fact that I called out by name four fantasy bloggers who had either given up completely or ridiculously slacked in my bloggers league. And that's fine. I knew when I did it that such a move wouldn't sit well with everybody.
What did shock me, however, was another criticism oft leveled at me, one which goes something like this: "Lighten the hell up, dude. It's just fantasy baseball." It's true -- fantasy baseball is just a game, nothing more. I certainly don't place the importance on it that I do my family, my career, my friends. Hell, I'm not sure fantasy baseball ranks higher with me than the works of Joss Whedon, the music of Bruce Springsteen or the joy of raking in a big pot in poker.
But that doesn't mean that I -- that we all -- shouldn't take playing fantasy baseball seriously. 'Cause, otherwise, what would be the point of playing at all? Fantasy baseball is a fun way to test your knowledge of the game against a group of fellow baseball enthusiasts. And the leagues that are the most fun are the ones where all managers are playing hard and playing to win. You ever play in a league where half the teams quit by the All-Star Break? Horrible ... and no fun at all. That's why I was a bit stunned that people accused me of having a personality defect, just because I was angry that a quarter of the managers in my bloggers league weren't actively involved with their teams anymore.
(Side note: Despite the regrettable mistake I made in calling out David Chase of Brock for Broglio, who has real and serious reasons for not keeping up with the fantasy game this summer, I still don't feel bad about naming the others. Guys who take it upon themselves to run fantasy websites and write about fantasy baseball should be held to a higher standard than casual league players. You can't convince me of this otherwise. If you respect the game enough to document the playing of it, then respect it enough to actually PLAY IT.)
Anyway, the point of playing fantasy baseball -- as with all games -- should be to win. And the best leagues, the ones that make playing fantasy baseball worthwhile, are the ones where every manager takes the game that seriously. A league with at least 12 managers who play hard from April to September will inspire intense rivalries, hilarious smack talk, legends of fierce championship battles from seasons past and all the things that make fantasy baseball great. If you don't take it seriously, all of those things are lost. And then fantasy baseball wouldn't be any fun at all.