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Fantasy Baseball - Enhancer or Detractor of The Game?

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I recognize that by being a one-team fan that I may be missing out on the game-within-the-game of Major League Baseball. I love baseball, and at this time of year, when the off-season is winding down, I'd watch just about any team play right now, even the Devil Rays vs. the Royals, just to see some baseball. Don't misunderstand me; in interest of full disclosure, if there were no other games on TV on a particular night during the season, I'd probably watch that game anyway. But that's not the point.

The point is, by being an A's fan, I feel like I watch the game of baseball with a tainted view of sorts; as in, how does this game affect the A's? This might explain why I constantly have to remind myself that there is a league called the "National League" and that those games are also important to the sport of baseball. Granted, I see my share of Yankees' games just because I don't want to miss anything, and I watch more Angels' games than is probably healthy for any sane person, partially because I live in Southern California, but mostly because I love when they lose, thus directly affecting the A's.

But fantasy baseball is a whole different ballgame, so to speak. All of a sudden, you find yourself with a team full of players who are not on the A's (well, at least they shouldn't be, if you want to win <said baseballgirl as she warms up for the season-long jokes at the expense of the A's offense>). What do you do with that? How do you transition from rooting for the green and gold, no matter who's wearing it, to a hand-picked collection of players from other teams, even rivals?

My only foray into the world of fantasy is the homerun league I played in a couple of years ago at work. People have been trying to get me to play in fantasy leagues for as long as I can remember, and I thought it was time to get my feet wet. The premise was simple; choose one player from each of ten columns that were divided by level of homerun skill and that was your team for the season, giving you a total of ten players. Due to injury reasons, you were allowed to throw away one player's score, so at the end of the season; you just added the homerun totals of nine of your players. Highest total wins. Simple, right?

No! Not simple! This is how unhealthy crushes develop on players like Mark Teixeira and Aramis Ramirez. It's been two years, people, and I still love them. I rooted for them that whole season, every game, caring more about their homeruns than Eric Chavez'. And it was wrong! Wrong! And that's not even taking into account the games when the A's actually played Texas. How could I split my loyalties between my green and gold and <drool> Mark Teixeira </drool>?

The answer is clear. I can't. I am unable to manage a fantasy baseball team and keep my vested interest in the Oakland Athletics. I watch other teams because I love baseball; I root for no-hitters, and web gems, and good games with the best of them, and there are times when I watch baseball just for the sake of watching baseball. But my biggest fear is that fantasy baseball would change the way I root for my own team, and I want none of it. The only stats I want to root for have OAK in front of the players' names.

So, I guess what I want to know is this: Do you play in fantasy leagues? Does it change the way you watch baseball, or root for the A's? And if so, how do you balance your love for the A's with your intense desire for certain non-A's players to succeed?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Update [2007-2-11 17:12:55 by baseballgirl]: Added a poll...