5 Reasons Playing Fantasy Baseball Makes for Better Fans

The best way to become a better fan? Play fantasy baseball.

I decided to let the computer do the drafting.

No risk of letting my fandom interfere, or choosing a player because he had a compelling life story. Not this time. This time an emotionless algorithm would select my fantasy baseball team, and I would sit back and watch the master at work.

Actually, late in the draft, I gave myself one pick: Elehuris Montero. He will be the Rockies’ starting third baseman this season, and I want him to succeed — plus, I think he’s going to absolutely mash at Coors Field. But other than that, I was trusting the machine.

Let me step back for a minute.

I’ve played fantasy baseball before, but I was neither good nor committed, and as such, my interest waned around the All-Star break.

But not this year.

I was invited to join a Yahoo fantasy league, so I set up my team — Skeleton Crew, named after a picture I took at the local Walmart last fall. The display skeleton wears a bright-orange women’s hat with a black lace veil as she holds a basket of flowers and wears an elegant cobweb stocking.

That was me, one of 15 teams in a fantasy league, many with names that showed an unnerving fixation on male genitalia — but I digress.

Here’s the team the algorithm selected for me:

I made a few wire claims, and did a few trades — look, I’m trying to be dispassionate here, but as a Rockies fan, I just cannot have Muncy on my team. (Hello, DJ LeMahieu!) I hated to drop Bard, who is hands down one of the nicest people I have ever met (and also has a wicked-good slider). But I know what the Coors Effect does to a pitcher.

Then, I settled in to see what I could learn.

It’s early in the season, but here are five reasons fantasy baseball is changing my approach to baseball and fandom.


Reason 1: Fantasy Baseball Got Me Out of My Fan Silo


As a Rockies fan, I tend to focus on my favorite team at the expense of others. Sure I keep up with the other teams — I mean, how can you not when Shohei Ohtani is alive? — but my focus was very Rockies-centric. (I should seek help, I know.)

That’s changed now. When Eflin is pitching, you’d better believe I’m tuning in to keep up with the Rays. Even though I’ve endured more Rockies drubbings at the hands of the Giants than I can count, having Webb and Yastrzemski on my fantasy team has given me an excuse to re-see those players.

In short, I’ve removed my purple-tinted glasses and taken a look at all the possibilities. You know what? It’s nice out here.


Reason 2: Fantasy Baseball Made Me a More Knowledgeable Fan


I have a confession to make: I did not pay much attention to Berti before he became part of Skeleton Crew, but I do now. The catching situation in St. Louis was not terribly interesting to me until Contreras became the starting catcher on my team. (No more, however. A Cardinals fan manager really wanted Contreras, so now I’m with Logan O’Hoppe.)

I began watching players I had never paid much attention to because I had a vested interest in their performance.

As an English teacher, I enjoy the sport more when I know about the players. (For me, so much begins with an interesting story.) By playing fantasy baseball, I spent more time learning the stories and statistics of other players, and there’s nothing like a journey to the waiver wire to cause one to pull up the Pitcher List player pages when making a tough decision.

And I will tolerate absolutely no slander of my perennially-wet-haired center fielder Brandon Marsh.

I’m a more fluent fan now than I was before, and I owe that to fantasy baseball.


Reason 3: Fantasy Baseball Gives Me Permission to Cheer for Players on Rival Teams


Although he’s a Dodger, I really like Freeman, and while Machado is with the Padres and has destroyed the Rockies more times than I can count, I think he’s one of the most talented players alive. (I traded Bregman for Machado and haven’t regretted the move for one minute.)

Now, because of my fantasy team, I can enjoy the play of both without feeling any guilt the next time I watch Machado slam one of those Austin Gomber curveballs over the fence.

I could, I realize, do this anyway because why not appreciate exceptional talent? It just always seemed like cheating a bit. But not with fantasy baseball because these players are on my team.

Never doubt that if I could have drafted Nolan Arenado, I would have done so in a minute, and I would have done it without guilt. (Sorry, Manny.)


Reason 4: Fantasy Baseball Provides Another Way for Fans of Bad Teams to Win


It is, I realize, possible to become a fan of another team — lots of folks do it, and there’s nothing wrong with it. For me, however, that’s just never been how my fandom works. I feel like I’m in a long-term relationship with a lot of baggage, and I’m committed. When you’re a fan of a strange but consistently marginal team, it’s a lot.

With fantasy baseball, however, I’m in a position to watch my team win and do so with really good players that the Rockies could either never develop or be willing to trade for. Me, I’m willing to make those deals.

So when August gets here — and August is generally a pretty awful month for Rockies fans — I’ve got something to look forward to, and I’m also invested in players on my fantasy team that are in contention. (I’m eager to see how this changes my experience of the postseason.)


Reason 5: Fantasy Baseball Is a Great Way to Meet Other Fans


Looking to meet new folks? Trying to expand your baseball circle? There’s no better way than fantasy baseball. Join a league, meet some folks, and enjoy the pleasures of fantasy baseball.


Closing Thoughts


Right now, my team is ranked third in the league though that will surely change. (Can I just express again my commitment to Brandon Marsh?)

This year, I decided to trust the algorithm; next year, I’m doing the drafting myself.

Renee Dechert

Renee Dechert writes about baseball and fandom, often with a focus on the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. (She's also an English professor, but the baseball is more interesting.) Follow her on Twitter (@ReneeDechert) or Bluesky (@ReneeDechert.com).

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