Much to be thankful for in fantasy world

Posted Nov. 21, 2012 @ 8:33 p.m.
Posted By Pat Fitzmaurice

No doubt you’ve heard about the Yahoo! Sports server outage earlier this month that left thousands of fantasy owners unable to make lineup changes shortly before kickoff of Week 10’s Sunday games. Outrage ensued. Fantasy enthusiasts seethed. In a country obsessed with fantasy football, Yahoo’s technical glitch qualified as national news. Google it if you don’t believe me. (Or, if you’re not among the aggrieved, try a Yahoo! search.)

Yahoo’s engineers quickly fixed the problem, but not in time for fantasy owners to make desired lineup changes. The company then made an earnest attempt at damage control. But you know how fantasy owners are: We’ll scream for an official’s blood if his bad spot costs our running back a precious yard.

With so many people still fuming over Yahoo’s Exxon Valdez moment, this may seem like an odd time to offer thanks to the engineers and other technical people who maintain fantasy football sites and constantly come up with snazzy new features to further enhance our little hobby. But let’s face it: We non-technical folks usually only think about the tech people when something goes awry. When everything is humming along as usual, we tend not to think about all the hard work going into it.

So thank you, technical guys. That goes for you Yahoo! guys, too. I’ll bet some non-technical idiot like me put his coffee cup in a place where it shouldn't have been and spilled it on some important piece of equipment. (Bonus advice to tech people: Keep fools like me away from all vital machinery.)

As in last year’s Thanksgiving-week column, I’d like to offer thanks to some other people in the fantasy football universe who have my sincere gratitude:

• I’m thankful to the NFL players who put their bodies on the line every week for our amusement. I’ll never say that these guys are overpaid; they earn every dollar.

• I’m thankful to my competitors. In every league, my fellow owners conduct themselves like gentlemen. They show up on time for live drafts. If they’re drafting remotely, they’re online when they’re supposed to be online and make their picks promptly. No one browbeats the commissioner or whines about rules and rulings. Trading is on the up-and-up; no one ever tries to make a shady deal to help out a friend. Oh, sure, we give each other a ton of crap about everything imaginable — bad draft picks, bad trades, bad results — but ultimately we’re respectful toward each other and toward the league. There are no rotten eggs.

When other fantasy owners tell me about classless moves that their competitors have tried to pull (or successfully pulled), it always stuns me. It’s comforting to know that no one in any of my leagues would ever try to pull any chicanery, and it makes me pity all the upstanding fantasy owners who have to play fantasy football with shady competitors. I have nothing but good feelings toward my fellow owners, even though I enjoy trying to beat the hell out of them every season.

• I’m thankful to my wife. She accepts that she does not have my undivided attention 24/7 during the NFL season. She doesn’t get jealous that I prefer to spend 6½ hours with Andrew Siciliano of the Red Zone Channel every Sunday. She understands that I’m in no frame of mind to discuss the possible repaving of our driveway in the moments after Mason Crosby has shanked another FG attempt. And if she would have preferred to marry someone who’s into politics, or live theater, or model railroading, or hot yoga — some dude who doesn’t give a rip about sports — well, then she does a good job of not letting on. Love ya, hon.

• I’m thankful to Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom of Football Guys. They do the best fantasy football podcasts in the business, and they do a ton of them — recap shows, preview shows, waiver-wire shows and shows that defy easy categorization (Bloom’s new “On the Couch” podcast). Their crowning achievement is “The Audible,” a two-hour Thursday-night fantasy smorgasbord that also taps the wisdom of Matt Waldman, who deftly blends scouting expertise with fantasy analysis, and Dr. Jene Bramel, fantasy football’s premier injury expert. There are other podcasts I enjoy. The guys at Yahoo!, ESPN and CBS do fine pods, and there are other decent ones out there, too. But the Football Guys are in a class of their own.

• I’m thankful to the on-air talent at Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio for keeping up a steady stream of thought-provoking fantasy chatter. I particularly appreciate the work of the guys who fit into my weekday driving schedule: Scott Engel, Adam Ronis and Corey Parsons make the morning trip to the train station pass quickly and cheerfully, and Nathan Zegura makes for an entertaining listen on the trip home.

• I’m thankful to the guys at FantasyPros.com. They do fantasy owners a great service by aggregating the rankings of fantasy experts and providing other cool features to assist with team management and help owners make decisions on lineups, trades and waiver claims. FantasyPros also does the fantasy industry a great service by tracking expert rankings and showing fantasy owners which pundits offer the best advice. And I know that the guys at FantasyPros have worked tirelessly to provide one of the most useful sites in the industry.

• I’m thankful to the purveyors of wisdom who make up the ever-expanding fantasy football industry. There are so many distinctive voices out there. Some offer great statistical info, some are quick on the draw with breaking fantasy news, some provide entertaining articles and columns, and a few offer all of the above. There’s excellent work being done within the industry, and I’m proud to be part of it.

• I’m thankful for Twitter. I’ve only been on it since June, and I feel stupid for having resisted its pull for so long. As soon as I joined, I felt like the last caveman to have discovered fire.

• I’m thankful to my editors for all of their diligent fact-checking and sentence-tightening, for being patient when I occasionally blow a deadline, and for giving me license to run with weird ideas. And I’m thankful to Pro Football Weekly editor and publisher Hub Arkush for allowing me to contribute to PFW for so long.

• And most of all I’m thankful to you, dear readers. I’m honored by your attention. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you via Twitter or e-mail. I’m blessed with a great bunch of readers and Twitter followers, and I’m humbled that you bother taking time out from your busy lives to read my stuff.

Thank you.