Monday, May 22, 2006


One gets a false sense of exercise from scooter riding. You're out in the fresh air moving rapidly and yet riding on a scooter hardly qualifies as cardiovascular activity in any way other than the scares you get from being amongst inattentive drivers.

That's unfortunate for those of us who love scooter riding and who also are increasingly aware of how tight the old pants are getting. Besides scooter riding the closest thing I get to exercise these days is spinning the dial of my iPod.

Thus I was rather glad when the softball season started a couple of weeks ago. Every season the fear exists that this will be the year that the key to my softball game, my legs/speed will finally give way to my advanced age. I do not have enough power to be an intimidating batter though I do have to say my hand eye coordination all but makes up for my poor eyesight. My glove is above average but my range is about as good as a satellite radio placed in a Panic Room.

The part of my game that gets the other team's attention is my speed. Other than Greg Gagne I'm not sure there's a human alive that in his hey day was quicker in going from first to third. (Part of that is knowing the proper angles to take to get from here to there even faster.) The first two games of the season have proven that my game isn't entirely behind me quite yet. I haven't quite been consistent in my hitting (too many popups) but I've nailed a couple pitches on the button. More importantly despite not using my legs at all this winter, I still find there's some juice there when I turn on the jets.

I'm almost as fast as Theo the cat who displays his speed daily on a regular basis as he races Thompson, Diego-san and myself up the stairs in an impressive fashion.

I continue to love playing softball. My attempt to transition into becoming a curler knowing that my years as a softball player are numbered but my years as a curler could conceivably go on for awhile, have gone down with mixed results. I like playing curling but I dreamingly lose myself playing softball.

Of course a lot of that loves comes from my lifelong love of the game of baseball. That love is the only love of my love (with one rolling exception) that has continued to grow with time. Last year my friend asked me to join his fantasy baseball league. I had participated in another league a couple of years ago and had a decent time so I was glad to be asked to play again. It's a National League fantasy league (plus the Twins) with a few other American Leaguers included from years past when teams were made up of players from both leagues.

I inherited a team that included Joe Mauer, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Buerhle, Billy Wagner, and Torii Hunter. Before the season began we had a draft with a certain amount of dollars to spend on our entire roster. The draft involved each owner throwing out the name of a player and everyone having the opportunity to bid on the player.

I wasn't too happy with the team I ended up with after the draft. I was forced to take some players I never liked much (like Raul Mondesi and Doug Mientkiewicz) but by watching the waiver wire and free agent pool I was able to mold my team into something much better as the season progressed. I found myself in first place for much of the year even though I didn't have a single National League all star. (Soriano and Buerhle made the American League squad.)

The Grey Duck Fantasy League has been around for nearly a decade and in my first season I was able to do what several owners that had been around for years had never done- I won the league. No one in the history of the league had repeated as champs so this year I have my work cut out for me. (Who issued the truism that says that it's much more difficult to repeat than win in the first place?)

I like the team I started with much better than last year. Right now I find myself mired in second place far behind the leader. I don't have enough pitching to win this thing unless youngsters like Francisco Liriano, Scott Olsen, and Gavin Floyd can put together solid seasons. I find myself checking the National League boxscores first thing in the morning and have become somewhat obsessed with the players on my fantasy team.

Having been a critic of the geekiness of fantasy sports (football in particular that has its participants far too obsessed with statistics rather than unpredictability of the sport) I never thought I'd find myself so involved in what's going on with other teams in other towns. I maybe the only person in Minnesota who gets upset when Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins has an OHfer game. I love that my team, the Osaka Cat's Meow continues to perform at a high level validating my hunches about certain players. I love scouring newspapers trying to find the next great player. Still I realize fantasy baseball is to real ball what scooter riding is to real exercise. Yet the benefit of this game is that it gives me something to think about during my free as a bird scooter rides.

And in a matter of the media finally getting it right...

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