Thursday, March 18, 2010

To all the Fantasy widows out there, our apologies

Fantasy Baseball season approaches. It's a time to sit staring blankly at a computer screen in the dead of night, scrolling through numbers and unfamiliar minor league baseball players' names, searching for that diamond in the rough. That cheap nugget that will help a team owner carry home the championship plaque.

I've been caught up in the Fantasy Baseball world for more than two decades now, and it still has the allure of yesteryear when stats were compiled weekly from USA Today and manually compiled to rank team standings. Now there are web sites and stat services to make it happen.

Yes indeed, Fantasy Baseball has boomed into huge business, with instant updates and mobile alerts, so you can cringe and vomit in your mouth during family events or school plays when your pitcher gives up a three-run bomb, plummeting your team into the basement.

And there are the poor Fantasy Baseball wives and significant others. They become widows during the baseball season. They secretly dread the popping sound of the first pitch hitting the catcher's mitt. They know the roller coaster of emotions is about to begin. Oh, it's nice at first, because every Fantasy team owner begins the season with delusions of optimism.

"This is the year! I can feel it."

She responds with a fake smile, a slight nod of the head. She knows your starting pitching is a joke and that your outfield slugger has aged another year.

My wife is pretty savvy to my "team owner" demeanor as the season unfolds. She knows when I'm locked into a tight race or a hefty head-to-head match-up. There's a skip in my step, a slight all-knowing gleam in my eye, general manager confidence oozing everywhere. She also knows when my teams are in the tank because that's when I usually pay partial attention to chores around the house.

Last year I was in four leagues. Yes, four leagues. I thought I could juggle the lineups and stay on top of things. Nope. I did place fourth in one league, but didn't fare well at all in the others. So this year, I've scaled back to two. Two is manageable. A fair compromise to the family I have neglected in the past.

So two teams is my limit. For sure....

Well... okay, maybe just one more. Three teams. It's one less than four. A reduction from last year. You see, a friend just asked me to join a league yesterday because they were short an owner. You can't be short an owner and effectively draft so close to the start of the season. I had to do it, you see. The league had to be saved. Think of the other owners. Right?

Yeah... so, I'm in three leagues.

Just don't tell my wife.

Go Brooklyn Joes!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Raise your hand if...'ve had a chimney fire and didn't know it.

Yesterday, I ventured outside to greet a husband/wife team from a local chimney cleaning/repair company. They drove out to give me an estimate on repairing our chimney. As the inspection unfolded, the chimney guy noticed a crack starting from the top of the chimney and moving all the way down to the roof line. Upon further inspection, the crack continued along the lines of mortar between the cement blocks visible in the garage. Both flues are cracked and the chimney slightly bows out on the side where the apparent fire took place.

According to the expert, many chimney fires often go unnoticed.

I stood there listening to him explain the repair options in a bit of a fog. What if I had burned down the house? We could have lost everything. Someone could've been hurt or killed.

When you think about, the practice of inviting fire into your house is a bit ridiculous. You're sort of asking for trouble. Is it worth the risk to sit and stare at the flames or close your eyes to hear the sizzle and pop of the wood? If you asked me a month ago I would've said yes, but now, no.

It's unclear when the fire occurred. Could have been many years ago, even before we bought the house (maybe the inspector missed it) or this winter. But I've learned my lesson. It's worth the money to have the chimney regularly cleaned and inspected.

No indoor Smores until further notice.