Having a Ball

Yankees, shmankees. My fantasy baseball team, the Capitol Punishers, finished in first place for the second straight year. You wanna talk dynasty?

SIGH. The Yankees won another World Series, an outcome that until recently would have ruined the baseball season for me, as it has ruined so many in the past. Not anymore. My favorite team, you see, had a great year too, with Craig Biggio leading them to a championship. Please don’t bother to write and remind me that the Houston Astros flopped in the playoffs and that Biggio, in particular, stunk. I’m not talking about the Astros. I don’t even care about the Astros—or the Yankees. The only team that matters to me is the mighty Capitol Punishers, two-time champs of the Ro-Tex-Erie Fantasy Baseball League.

Fantasy baseball is for serious baseball fans only. You join a league, either with friends or on the Internet, select a roster of players from the ranks of Major League Baseball (or, in the case of the Ro-Tex-Erie FBL, the National League only), and accumulate points based upon their regular-season performance in real life. Fantasy baseball is what real baseball would be like if every player suddenly became a free agent and every team had to assemble its 25-man roster from scratch by bidding for players. To make the process fair to all, every team’s payroll has to stay within a predetermined league salary cap. Hey, George Steinbrenner, you think you know something about baseball? Let’s see you prove it: Join the Ro-Tex-Erie League, where your zillions won’t do you any good.

Ro-Tex-Erie” is a play on “Rotisserie,” which was the name of the original fantasy league—a reference to a now-defunct New York restaurant where a group of friends met regularly to talk about baseball back in 1979. The idea for fantasy ball came to one of the group, Dan Okrent, now an editor-at-large at Time, Inc., but then the president of Texas Monthly Press, during a flight to Austin. He typed up the basic rules that night, and they haven’t changed much since. “Rotisserie baseball in 1999 is a lot

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