Where would real baseball be today without Fantasy Baseball?
Let's be honest, after the strike in 1994 many fans turned away from America's past time. And why shouldn't they? After cancelling the World Series, and essentially making the entirety of the season useless (and breaking the hearts of every Expos fan) baseball had turned on the fans. The case of Billionaires v Millionaires was not a case we were interested in ruining baseball.
Coinciding in the mid-90's was the rise of the internet. Perhaps the most influential creation to mankind of the century. Perhaps even the millenium. The internet has brought billions of people together within a few keystrokes. And so too did the easy and accessibility of a rising game known as "fantasy baseball" where we could benefit as much from a home run as the team did.
It gave us an opportunity to feel more like we were a part of the game. So many people who had dreamed to one day play baseball, could instead feel like GM's. We pick our players, we make the trades, we make the signings. There wouldn't be contract holdouts, CBA's, and strikes. There would only be fans and players.
The competitive nature of mankind was once again the driving force to a new era of sport.
So why shouldn't we also have a Fantasy Baseball Hall of Fame? While disregarding defense, we can induct names like Edgar Martinez with ease. Sadly, Ozzie Smith may sit this one out instead. But this is about the numbers at the plate. This is about the homers, and the steals, and the RBI's. About the men who made us cry like babies when they went a simple 0-for-5 on the final day of the season, and the men who made us jump for joy when they pitched a complete game shutout.
Indeed, a fantasy hall of fame is just about due.
The question becomes, what shall the criteria be? Most importantly, when did fantasy baseball really begin and therefore, in what era do we begin our selection?
According to Wikipedia, the game can be traced back as far as 1960. In my opinion, this would be too soon. There weren't actually people playing it.
Then rotisserie leagues pop up in the early 80's, which saw a rise thanks to the 1981 baseball strike. Should we begin our search in 1981?
The first open public game, Dugout Derby, came in 1989. Another good starting point.
Then we saw the rise of internet in the mid-90's, and Yahoo Sports began fantasy baseball in December of 1998. This is when I remember starting to play myself and I think its a key date. Thanks to the internet, fantasy sports were able to explode. This is the time when the voters (YOU!) will most likely begin to remember those heartbreaks and joys.
So please, if you will, tell me when you think the Fantasy Baseball Hall of Fame era should be? And I think we'd all love to hear your own personal stories of starting fantasy baseball in the comments section.