05 April 2010

Virtual Trophies

Fantasy sports are one of my non-wargaming hobbies. With the NBA and NHL seasons coming to an end, I have been evaluating my make-believe teams. In hockey I have already won a third-place trophy for a league with early playoffs, and I am in a position to win a couple more trophies once the season ends for good, probably two second-place trophies. That means I should get a trophy in every hockey league I joined this year.

My NBA teams are not doing as well. I may get two trophies (out of four teams) and the other two teams aren't even close. Some key injuries came into play, but I think the main reason for my success in hockey and relative failure in basketball is the personal factor. At their heart, fantasy sports games are merely spreadsheet exercises. If you removed the names from the statistical sets you could still play effectively, and perhaps even perform better. But that would basically be doing accounting as a form of entertainment. I do not follow professional hockey. I know nothing about the teams or the players, so I am able to shuffle my roster somewhat heartlessly when a player is underperforming. I don't come into it with a bias. The NBA was my first real sports obsession, so I come into fantasy basketball with a lot of prejudice. I may hold on to an underperforming player because I am a fan of the team or I am holding out hope that he will play to his potential. I have attached myself to a particular set of statistics because of the name that appears next to them. Anyway, that's my theory.

Baseball season starts in earnest today. My team, the Houston Astros, is pretty much doomed to fail from the beginning, so I have no hope that the real season will go well for me. My heyday of sports fandom was in the mid-90s when the Houston Rockets and Denver Broncos were winning trophies. Since then my teams have all struggled in the throes of mediocrity or worse. The good thing about the start of baseball season is that I've got four fresh fantasy teams full of potential. When the numbers haven't started pouring in it's easy to imagine that every one of my teams has a chance to win a little digital trophy. Actually, one of my teams is pretty bad and I don't see it winning anything. I'll be lucky to keep it out of last place. I tried an auction-style draft for the first time and it didn't go well for me. Last season I actually watched some baseball games, and I may try to catch a few this year as well.


  1. A guy I know was trying to get me to do his baseball fantasy league. I just can't commit that much time. Good luck on your stuff. I may do football this/next year.

  2. It can be pretty time-consuming. Football is pretty fun, but with just sixteen games in the typical fantasy season, it is subject to a lot more luck than the other fantasy sports games. Each week means a lot more in the overall standings.