Fantasy baseball, on paper and on the field

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2005

Fantasy baseball has never held much interest for me. I don’t know why, for I had once played a baseball game based on statistics. And baseball, of all sports, is best suited to this type of game, because of the large important role numbers play (home run records, etc.).

It has been played in the U.S. for more than 25 years and is becoming popular world wide. I felt if it’s that popular I should look into it. I did and found it wasn’t as difficult as I thought.

Essentially, there should be at least eight players with eight teams. Each player takes his turn in drafting his team, composed of pitchers, catchers, outfielders, etc. Then the eight categories are established. They may be home runs, strikeouts and so on. You follow your players’ Major League statistics during a week’s play and add them up. The most home runs by your team’s players in one week is worth eight points.

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The second highest team’s home run total would be worth seven points and so on down to the last team. The same can be done using strikeouts, batting average or whatever criteria you wish. The league is run by a commissioner chosen by the owners, who rules on all disputes. There is a great deal of fun involved in choosing the right player in the draft and also the unexpected injury, trades, and other happenings to the players you have chosen. Whatever happens in the real Major Leagues is reflected in your league.

At the end of the year totals are added up and a winner is declared and awarded a traveling trophy. As you can imagine, the game can be very complex or quite simple. It’s called fantasy baseball, but it’s based on hard numbers.

Normally fantasy is just the opposite of hard thinking and is based on imagination and wishful thinking. Some people probably think that I’m already fantasying about the Minnesota Twins in previous columns. Maybe so, but just for the fun of it let’s again follow Alice down the rabbit hole.

This is a fantasy about the Twins’ lineup:

Left fielder Shannon Stewart: Stewart escapes all injuries and patents an orthopedic arch to prevent Plantar Fasciitis. He hits .300, steals 30 bases and receives the Jean Hersholt Medical Humanitarian Award.

Shortstop Jason Bartlett: Bartlett plays a wonderful defensive shortstop and becomes a master of the hit and run. Unlike his predecessor, he is able to bend over when going to his left.

Catcher Joe Mauer: Mauer throws out 75 percent of all base stealers, hits .320 and 50 home runs and is named MVP of the American League.

First baseman Justin Morneau: He receives the Kent Hrbek award for most improved fielder and is recognized as the new Lou Gehrig as he bats behind Joe Mauer.

Center fielder Torii Hunter: Hunter matches hitting with his fielding and is recognized for going after the fewest low outside pitches in the American League.

Right fielder Jacque Jones: Finishes second to Torii Hunter in not fishing for low and away. In the middle of the season, Jones is traded to Tampa Bay for Michael Restovich.

DH Lew Ford: Ford hits .299 and is voted the best Major League outfielder not to have a position.

Third Baseman Michael Cuddyer: He hits and fields well and is sincerely congratulated by Corey Koskie when the Twins travel to Toronto.

Second Baseman Luis Rivas: leads the league in steals and is awarded the Derek Jeter award for game awareness.

In concluding this baseball fantasy there is one sad note. Carl Pohlad dies. However, his will designates money to build a new retractable roof stadium with the proviso that the Twins are never to move from Minnesota.

(Jon Laging, Sports Columnist)