The Major League Baseball season is a long one. Sundays in September may be the most challenging time for a player. They provide a unique set of circumstances. Sure, there’s the exhaustion, forcing men to dig deep to bring their highest energy level for the postseason run. Day games in general throw off sleeping patterns, so there’s that. But let us discuss something substantially more important. Fantasy football.
It’s scientifically proven that 77% of MLB players play fantasy football and 46% of those would prefer not to be spread thin by being in their baseball team’s lineup on football Sundays. No disrespect to their clubs, they are simply trying to preserve bandwidth.
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On Sunday, Sept. 19, 2004, I woke up and hopped on the 4 train. The Yankee Stadium clubhouse always had great breakfast and coffee, and I was looking forward to getting to the park and setting my fantasy football lineup. When I got to the yard, the coaches yet hadn’t arrived, so the lineup card wasn’t up. I relaxed for a bit and checked Rotoworld a few dozen times to make sure all of my starters were healthy. Satisfied that all was kosher, I made the long stroll down the stadium tunnel, past the home clubhouse, to the old cavernous cage. I knocked out my tee work and soft toss.
Upon my return to the visitors’ clubhouse, I noticed the afternoon’s lineup was posted. I wasn’t in it. Double. Fist. Pump. One pump because Mike Mussina was on the mound and one because I would be watching some football during our baseball contest.
My lack of regard for the second-most-important sport of the day did not make me unique. During the national anthem, my Red Sox teammates and I impatiently waited for the final note so that we could sprint back up the steps, using each other’s bodies for momentum to catch kickoff. After all, Dante Hall returned two for scores that season. Oh, and Tito? Don’t think he didn’t know the drill. It wasn’t uncommon to hear him utter, "Kap, how’s Manning doing?" in the fifth inning of a tie ball game.
This behavior wouldn’t give the Yankees, or any other team, the edge. Across the dugout, Steve Karsay, the guy I might be facing late in the game, was doing the same damn thing. Men across the league obsess about their flex position decision while you, the baseball fan, obsess about their performance on the diamond.
During today’s game, take a peek in the dugout. Notice fewer bodies occupying the bench than in last night’s (Saturday) contest? Now you know why.