April 23, 2013
So this morning a thought struck me that those of us who participate in fantasy sports are guilty of mock human trafficking. And while trafficking in human beings in the abstract is certainly more socially acceptable (and less illegal) than trafficking in real human beings, there is still an uncomfortable insensitivity inherent in the game. Fantasy sports, at their core, are a form of commodity trading and speculating. One could argue the commodities are not human, but simply buckets of statistics and metrics that match the scoring of the game (there’s some of that insensitivity for you). But nobody drafts a team of raw stats. They draft players, or you know… people.
This line of thought started this morning when I checked my MLB newsfeed and read that Jason Heyward, an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves, had surgery last night to remove his appendix. The human reaction to this story would be empathy. A 23 year old professional athlete had emergency surgery at a hospital unfamiliar to him, Rose Medical Center in Denver, because the Braves are playing an away series against the Rockies (as an aside, Monday’s Game 1 was postponed because of SNOW, so the weather continues to act like Uncle Gary at the Busey Family Thanksgiving). Not an ideal situation for Heyward. Most people would likely project themselves into that scenario and muster some genuine concern for the young man. I’m in that place now, but that was not my initial reaction. I had only read the headline, “Heyward Has Surgery To Remove Appendix” and my immediate thought was of the $37 (real out-of-my-wallet dollars) I paid for the outfielder in my league auction, and how unlikely it would be that I would approach anywhere close to a decent ROI (return on investment) for Heyward. It gets worse. From somewhere in the darkest corner of my reptile brain, some really horrible person was speaking into a megaphone, repeating two words over and over – “SUNK COST.”
Yep. While Jason Heyward recovers in a private hospital room in Colorado, likely lost in a haze of painkillers, with brief flashes of clarity that only punish him with questions about the length of time he will spend on a disabled list, somewhere a thousand miles away, a grown-ass-man in East Central Illinois sits at his computer and curses him for being human. It’s a sick business.
To be honest, I was already pissed with Heyward prior to the appendectomy. It’s early in the MLB season, but a .121 average and only two home runs in 17 games is a very rough start. The early prospectus on Heyward was already shaky, and a fair 2013 ROI was starting to become a long shot. This surgery is simply the black swan event that brings a season into perspective and speaks undeniable truth to a fantasy team owner. Heyward will play more baseball this year. Hell, he may only miss 10 games. But he won’t return full value. He won’t bring good trade returns. Heyward is by all intents and purposes, as far as rotisserie baseball is concerned – SUNK COST.
I wish him the best on his recovery. He seems like a very nice young man.
- Heyward has surgery to remove appendix (mlb.mlb.com)
- Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward has appendectomy, no word on return to lineup (timescolonist.com)
- Braves OF Heyward has appendectomy surgery (cbssports.com)
- Braves’ Heyward to DL after appendectomy (espn.go.com)