Tony Horwitz has played in the Billy Almon league for 17 years and notes in this excellent short essay that trading by email isn’t as fun as trading by email or text. This story is published by Baseball Prospectus, but it is not behind the paywall.
For a few years, when I switched from a landline to a cell phone, my ring tone was Bob Dylan croaking “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The American Dream League trophy is topped not by a swinging slugger (like Ralph Kiner) but by an old fashioned Bell telephone. Before the internet our game was ruled by telephone skills. Today, my phone is wondrous because with two clicks I can get up-to-the-minute scores, and with one or two more watch any game but those of my home town teams. The most important telephone skill today is clicking tiny icons with fat fingers.
I agree with everything Tony says, and yet talking on the telephone now seems a chore. In the old days, before there were wolves in Wales, to quote Dylan Thomas, my fantasy life was front and center in my family life because of the phone calls. They came when they did, they interrupted work or play, and they couldn’t be easily shifted to some point of pause. They could not be moved to that time when everybody else is in bed and I can study clips of the pitcher on offer, comparing his visuals with the numbers at Fangraphs, concocting some sort of narrative to justify adding him to my team (at such a cost!) or throwing him in (for that?). With email I imagine I spend less time managing my teams, but I may not. What I’m sure of, however, is that my family and work pays less dearly for my obsession.