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Saturday 23rd Sep 2017

I've never done a marathon as a runner, though I did a half once, and it took a week for my body to recover from the pounding. And, that was after plenty of regular running and training.

So, here we are. The second half has begun, starting that part of the baseball season marathon that makes the season so tough as we head into the Dog Days, which got its name because the dog star, Sirius, hangs on the horizon at night from August into September.

It is a hot lazy time: one when a lot of us go on vacation, and truth for me is once we go away, my schedule and routine are blown and I tend to forget to set rosters and make moves. Add in if we change time zones, then I am really in trouble.

Similarly, it is tough because football is looming and mocks and preparation are all over the place, so keeping that focus on your fantasy baseball team is a challenge.

On the other hand, with the Rule 4 Amateur Draft just a month behind us, there are shiny free agent prospects waiting to be gobbled up and placed on our ultra rosters. And, with the trade deadline looming, there is a potential influx of promising players in AL and NL-only formats to whet our appetites.

Just within the pre-All Star cycle, Aaron Hill and Brad Ziegler made their way to the American League, and now Drew Pomeranz joins the collective. There are rumors of Josh Reddick and Rich Hill going to the Dodgers, and Yasiel Puig moving to the Athletics, making for even more FAAB speculation.

That means there is the possibility for hope for most teams despite half the season being gone. But perhaps that is the beauty of not just baseball and fantasy games, but games--for baseball is just as much a game as is fantasy--are fun.

I play Words With Friends and Hanging With Friends on my iPhone, and I still have the Candy Crush Soda app on my phone, even though I have mostly become bored with the game. Diane is a genius at said game, and is somewhere around the 800th level after getting near 1000 in plain old original Candy Crush. (Diane also beat an original Pac Man arcade game back in the 70's when that game was as hot as Pokemon Go seems to be today.)

The truth is we all love playing games of one kind or another it seems. My friend Mark favors Go as a board game and when his reflexes were younger, tennis and softball. Now he plays hoops once a week. Diane likes the vids, but she does not really like spectator sports; however, she loves hiking with the dogs and riding her bike all afternoon, not to mention her time as a gym rat.

My pal Stephen swims and plays strategy and tactics games. My music mate Jeremy Steinkoler plays the drums for a living, but goes seriously after golf and archery along with playing in a couple of fantasy football leagues with me.

I am not sure what the allure of games and competition is, but the desire to play and come out on top seems to be both very old, and pretty much in our DNA since long ago.

The Greeks, after all, began the Olympics, and the Romans, I guess ironically, referred to their chariot races and gladiator combats as "games." Chess is thought to be 1500 years old, but Go is anywhere between 2500 and 4000 years of age.

There are those who scoff at fantasy games, even though the realm of fantasy's tentacles touches all of us one way or another, no matter what game or sport or even hobby one has. 

After playing golf with my "senior" group with whom I play every Tuesday and Thursday morning, there is a cluster of us who go out to lunch and discuss god and life and golf and sports and politics and stuff while stuffing our beaks and relating how much fun being retired really is (and how lucky we all are to be able to enjoy it).

All of the guys know I am tied to the Fantasy industry, and the notion of whether the game is gambling or not always seems to come up. Personally, I suppose it is if one is betting money, but similarly, though luck plays a factor, fantasy games are certainly games that take a knowledge of the game and players, as well as being able to abstract which players might indeed perform well enough to comprise a solid roster. So, in that sense, skill becomes a factor.

But, I try to shy from all of that. For me, simply getting up each day is a miracle, and surviving 24 hours without airplane tires falling out of the sky and crushing me, or cars smashing me, or errant golf balls striking me, is just as much luck as anything else on the planet.

I made this case to my golf mates, just as I would anyone, including you, dear readers. 

But, the bottom line is we like to play games because they challenge our brains and bodies, and they are fun. Especially when we win. And that is what I am trying to convey to my golf mates. That is what I try to convey to everyone.

And, after all, all those guys already play golf.

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