An open letter to my fantasy basketball team

Dear Hotlanta Hamsters,

Well, here we are. According to my ESPN fantasy website, there’s one more matchup left in our all-too-brief career. Though we have a 6-9 record, which is definitely not the worst in the league, I doubt we’ll make the playoffs. I mean, I assume. I have no idea what the threshold for the playoffs is, but I do feel confident in guessing that we haven’t reached it (13th place! 13th place!). Still love you guys.

I’m a little relieved that our season ends soon, to be honest. As your owner, it’s been quite stressful managing a gaggle of rogue players with big dreams and even BIGGER EGOS (anyone who’d like me to pen their inspirational-sports-movie screenplay, ready 4 ur emailzzzz) when I lack the knowledge necessary for the successful navigation of a fantasy team through a fake basketball season.

Of course, when I started this whole thing, that was kind of the point. I had been able to avoid accruing any lasting knowledge about sports for years, but then I graduated from college and moved to a new city, and I figured that it was time. I could have started with football or baseball, but I thought I’d give basketball a try since I was now living with a real live expert.

The same.

I thought if I had a fantasy team, I would be more motivated to pay attention to professional basketball in general, and learn how stuff worked through osmosis. I petitioned the head of the League of Extraordinary Ballers, one Mr. Andrew Lyle Stone, to let me flex my team-managing muscles.

“Dear Andy,” I wrote. “I’ve decided that I’m going to apprentice Carly this year and learn everything there is to learn about basketball (because it’s time for me to be an adult and understand sports). We think a good way for me to learn things would be to have a fantasy team. A couple of subpoints:
A. It is true that I came up with a hilarious name before I thought about any of these other things, but just because it’s hilarious doesn’t mean I won’t take it seriously, which brings me to point B.
B. Carly said I should impress upon you that I’m going to take this seriously, so this is me promising you I will! I just want to learn things!”

This was supposed to be me.

Oh, so optimistic were we. Carly and I even stayed up way past our bedtime one Sunday night for the intial draft. Sure, I had to check in with her about every single player I drafted (besides Chauncey Billups, who I knew I wanted to acquire on the strength of his name alone), and all of my questions were along the lines of “Durr, is this guy good?!?!?!”, but I predicted it wouldn’t be long before my inner hyper-competitive monster took over and I was a stats machine.

I'll miss you most of all!

I was quite motivated to win during my first matchup against Carly, but after the Hotlanta Hamsters were soundly defeated by the Winkelman Accountants, my enthusiasm…waned. Well, not waned, exactly, but it was really hard to keep up with everything! Not to mention my darling Yao Ming got injured in December — a stress fracture that could end his career (not that he was playing very much prior to the injury, it’s cool, still love you). I HAD JINXED HIM, OBVIOUSLY. But I couldn’t let him go! He’s the tallest player in the NBA (7 FEET, 6 INCHES)! He’s married to the only girl he’s ever dated, who he met when he was 17! He wooed her with a pin from the 2000 Summer Olympics! He’s 310 pounds, and a Virgo.

I held on, if by “held on,” you mean sort of willfully forgot that I had a fantasy team at all. I was letting down the Hamsters, I was letting down my fellow Extraordinary Ballers, and I was letting down MYSELF. Unfortunately, the aggregated shame was an even more powerful motivator to stay away. Weeks went by. I was inundated with offers to trade various players, but Carly was busy at work and couldn’t answer my questions about the proposals (“DURR, IS THIS GUY GOOD?!?!?!?!”). So I ignored them. All of them. I kept Yao. I was a mess. I was reprimanded by the league.

I've known this Extraordinary Baller since 5th grade. As such, I take his reprimands seriously.

“It has come to my attention that you have not updated your team line ups in over a month,” the email read. “I am going to assume positive intent and give you a chance…No hard feelings, but there was just one rule for the LXB: you have to play. Extraordinarily yours,

Andy Stone”

Oh my god, the shame! I felt truly awful, undeserving of the title of either Hotlanta Hamster or Extraordinary Baller. I wrote back, chagrined: “It’s so weird — I got a similar email from Yao this morning. I am properly chastened; my team needs me! Look forward to my enthusiastic participation for the rest of the season.”

And I did participate. But as it turns out, enthusiasm is not enough to counter general ignorance/ineptitude. Of the 3 match-ups following the email, I won 1 of them.

So here we are, at the end of the season. I’m a disappointment to my team and to my friends. The hyper-competitive monster that lives within is evidently not tempted even a little bit by fantasy sports, and I’m totally out of sneaky ideas to make myself pay attention. I don’t know what it is! I like watching sports, I like friends and I like beer. I LOVE “Space Jam.” This should be my Jam. Instead, I have to live with the knowledge that fake Marcin Gortat isn’t coming anywhere near the fake playoffs this year, and it’s probably my fault. (Although…doesn’t seem like the real Suns are making that possible for the real Gortat either, amirite? Sports knowledge!)

At any rate. In the words of the inimitable James Blunt “Did I disappoint you or let you down?/ Should I be feeling guilty or let the judges frown?/ ‘Cause I saw the end before we’d begun,/ Yes I saw you were blinded and I knew I had won.” Yes to all of those questions.

PSYCH! Still Sarah. Nailed it.

Mea culpa, Hamsters. It wasn’t you, it was me. And Ballers, thank you for the opportunity to be one of you for a season. I only wish I had brought more honor to the name.

Goodbye foreverrrrrrrrrrrrr,

— Charlie Sheen

P.S. Confidential to Hamsters – though we’re cooling our heels in 13th place, at least one of us has an intense claim to fame in 2011. Blake Griffin got all the glory for this one, but it was Baron Davis who helped him touch the FACE OF GOD (read: dunk via a mid-size sedan). That is what I like to see in a Hamster. You made me proud!

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8 Responses to An open letter to my fantasy basketball team

  1. Andy Stone says:

    I’ve never been more honored to be mentioned in a blog posting. It was a pleasure to have you in our league this year. If I could leave the Hamsters with one thing it would be this: have no shame, only pride.


  2. Kristie says:

    My insides just died reading this post. This is so good. You know when your professors talk about writing for your “intended audience” (because I’m sure that’s what 60% of your lectures are. The other 40% regards when to use illustrations, I imagine.)? I feel like you knew that I was your intended audience and while it was addressed to the fantasy bball league, it was ACTUALLY written for my soul. So, thank you for that.

    The Chauncey Billups part was exactly as I had expected. When I found out you had a team, Jeff told me the name and I lost it. And then he said, “Dev drafted Chauncey” and I said, “well, that was a given.” YOU NEVER LET ME DOWN.

  3. Megan says:

    You know about SPORTS??? Besides sarcasm and competitive drinking, obviously. So proud!!! Also, so glad I could help detail Andy’s baller status via picture : )

  4. Adam says:

    the Hamsters retire their jerseys, but the extraordinary legend lives on…

    it’s been a pleasure, baller !

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