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AND WHY YOU SHOULD PRACTICE IT, PEOPLE

FITSNews – March 26, 2007 – We’re not crazy enough to drive all the way to New Orleans for a fantasy baseball draft (like Sic Willie), but we will be adding The Sporting News to our regular diet of Vogue, Cosmo, US, Vanity Fair, Elle and People this week. And we’ll probably also throw For Love of the Game and The Natural on our DVD rental list while we’re at it.

How come? Because in the soothing words of A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again.” Or in the sonorous vibrato of James Earl Jones (from Field of Dreams), “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and that could be again.”

Like Annie Savoy, we are lifelong parishoners in the Church of Baseball, people. And one of the immutable commandments of our congregation is “Thou shalt not play in more than one fantasy league.”

Cheating on your husband or wife? That’s between you and Jesus. Cheating on your fellow fantasy owners? Even after a public shaming, your soul may very well be beyond redemption. Perdition’s unkempt slave.

It’s not about having the time, because there’s always plenty of time. Nor is it about cash, because there’s usually plenty of that, too. It’s about kinship, people. A metaphyspical oneness with a group of friends and colleagues that transcends material things and the stultifying drone of everyday monotony.

Fantasy monogamy is about the smile that creeps on your face when you open the sports page first thing in the morning to see Albert Pujols hit three home runs or Carl Crawford swiped four bases. And knowing they’re on your team – not anybody else’s.

It’s about debating whether to use “Hiroshima” or “Nagasaki” in a post on the league message board to describe how bad the star pitcher on your archnemesis’ team got lit up the night before.

It’s about coming up with a stupid name for your team. And then coming up with spiteful, derogatory nicknames for your opponents’ stupidly-named teams.

It’s about doing dumb things on the eve of the draft (like stumbling out of a cab and dropping a styrofoam cooler full of beer right in front of the door to the strip club). Or yelling “Oye Como Va” while praying to the porcelin God the next morning and knowing your compatriots have duly added Johan Santana to your roster.

It’s about the six foot trophy with the name of every league champion engraved on it. And imagining how nice it would look in your living room … with a cold beverage in your hand and some Dean Martin playing in the background.

It’s about explaining to seventy people at a rehearsal dinner that the reason you lept out of your chair during the groom’s speech and yelled “That’s Rite! Chipper Jones Is MY Mo-Fo!” is because Chipper Jones is, in addition to being your Mo-Fo, also your fantasy third baseman.

It’s about good news arriving via Smartphone. And having to get a new Smartphone after receiving some especially bad news.

But most of all – fantasy monogamy is about building bonds (not Barry, mind you) and making memories.

And living (and loving) the pure joy of the game …