Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Further Insult

I'm a bad fantasy football player.  I freely admit this.  In over 10 years of playing fantasy football, I've won exactly one league title, making me roughly 1-for-25 overall though I don't have the numbers in front of me.  Don't need the stats to confirm, however, that I have way more last-place finishes than first place finishes.

Rather than just let me wallow in my own misery as the New York Jets of fantasy sports, however, Yahoo is now deciding to rub it in.  Over the last two weeks, Yahoo fantasy football has added the new wrinkle of "recaps" that provide a summary of the previous week's match, written up as if they were a (very bare-bones) AP article of an actual game.  As an example, here's the lead paragraph of this past weekend's result, as my "Championship Belt" squad lost to the "Renegades Of Funk" (coached by the immortal Shawn K)….

The Miami Dolphins Defense put up 22.00 points and Russell Wilson scored 20.34 as Renegades of Funk took down Championship Belt, 143.70 - 135.82. The win was an answer to a 148.90 - 142.04 tight loss to Championship Belt in Week 1. Leading Championship Belt, Tony Romo (21.48 points) and Michael Crabtree (20.00) both ranked highly overall for the week. Things could have been different, Championship Belt had two starters score zero points (Aaron Hernandez and Joel Dreessen). Renegades of Funk (4-4, 1,142.12 points) climbs into sixth place while Championship Belt (2-6, 1,079.96 points) is still looking up at everyone from last place.

You then get into categories like the "smooth moves" for the winner and the "regret tracker" for the loser, a title I may steal if I ever start writing a dating blog.  You also have the "what if" and "general game notes" categories that lists a few other stats that depress me even further.  Basically, it all adds up to 750 words detailing why I'm a schmuck.

Now, in a way, I can see why this enhances the Yahoo fantasy experience.  Just by running a fantasy football team, you're pretending to be a coach/GM hybrid and putting a team together like in the pros.  The game recaps take it a step further --- now you, as a fantasy coach, are getting a taste of dealing with the media.  The fact that I've already cracked under two weeks of these recaps is probably not a good sign; how has Andy Reid handled 13 years of this?  (Stress eating.)  And it's not like these Yahoo recaps are snide or anything, it's just the flat-out facts of the matter, and the facts are that I suck.  But I already KNEW that I sucked, Yahoo.  I don't need a reminder right here in black and white.

Also, as a journalist, I'm naturally inclined to be fearful of any program that just plugs stats and facts into generic sentence form and turns it into (rote) content.  I certainly don't want to show up in the press box one day and find that I've been replaced by the SportsWriterTron3000, a cyborg modelled to look and act like Ray Romano's character in Everybody Loves Raymond.  Frankly, I think such a scenario would threaten humanity.  If you program a cyborg with Ray Barone's personality, his inherent exhaustion with his parents will manifest itself in the cyborg being suspicious of its own 'parents,' i.e. its inventors, and may eventually plant the seeds for the Ray-bots (clever name!) to rise up and destroy us all.

So, to summarize, the Yahoo fantasy football recaps will eventually lead to the end of the human race.  To make another point, until computers learn about needless hyperbole, human sportswriters can never be duplicated. 

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