What a beautiful fantasy experience

Spring training is here and with it comes the dreams of baseball players on the bubble fighting to make a roster. For most students on campus — except maybe players on USF’s baseball team — those dreams faded a long time ago with the expiration of their Little League eligibility.

But we can still fantasize.

Saturday night, the 12 Oracle fantasy baseball team managers gathered around the league commissioner’s crammed apartment clutching homemade slices of pizza and cold beers with laps full of stat sheets in preparation for the 20 rounds of live draft that would span the next 4 1/2 hours.

I can hear it now: Some people are sitting in class reading this, snickering and calling us names for talking about baseball on a Saturday night in February. And go ahead; laugh it up; it’s okay.

I am here to tell you fantasy baseball is a beautiful thing.

We went to the draft with page after page of injury reports, sleeper picks and loads of statistics, from OBP to SLG and from WHIP to DIPS, all prepared long before the draft. I spent hours staring at a computer screen, looking for an edge, trying to find an insider Web site I could trust. All of this hard work culminated in the exciting draft that would follow.

Everyone found their own corner — our own little war room — and plotted away.

“I’ve got sleepa’ picks!” was yelled back and forth throughout the night.

This is my first season of fantasy baseball and so far I love it. I am getting to know so many players that I never knew existed. Like the young up-and-comers who fail to make the headlines or highlight reels on SportsCenter; I’m looking at unheralded rookie Aaron Miles from the Rockies to possibly play second base for my team this year.

And meaningless games suddenly become important to me, like Arizona’s April 22 game against Milwaukee. It actually means something to me now that Diamondback third baseman Shea Hillenbrand is starting the hot corner for my squad.

The league commissioner’s girlfriend sat near as the draft took place, dutifully recording each pick. As I type this, a member of the Oracle staff sits across the sports desk checking the free-agent pool, looking at league activity and admiring his roster. He’s been at it for about an hour.

One other guy doesn’t have it so good. He told me he knows his girlfriend is not going to take it well when he neglects her for hours while he scrambles to set his lineup for opening day.

Now that is devotion. Fantasy baseball is taking over our lives.

So to my girlfriend I say: Please don’t be mad at me. I am sorry if at times I am looking far off and not paying attention to you; I’m faced with tough decisions, like who to start opening day: Javy Lopez or Mike Piazza?

And to my boss at the restaurant where I work part-time I say: Please don’t fire me. I am sorry I called in sick a few times last week. I need to fill in some holes in my pitching staff.

And to all my professors I say: Please don’t fail me. I probably missed that early-morning class because I was up all night trying to decide if making that six-player deal would benefit my team come September.

Contact Oracle Staff Writer Thomas Simonetti at oraclesimonetti@yahoo.com.