Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fantasy world becomes reality

Editor’s Note: Prominent SBG enthusiast Fred “XMan” Stevens unexpectedly passed away on Feb. 16, 2011. He is profoundly missed. The following type of blog entry is part of a periodic SBG series called “From the XMan Chronicles” that will recount tales involving the XMan.

From the XMan Chronicles:

For the past couple of years, my father, cousin (who is like a brother) and I have played fantasy golf. Before that sentence immediately stops any reasonable person from reading, please keep in mind that actual money is exchanged in fantasy golf.

This year, 70 players ponied up a $50 entrance fee with additional side bets to create a total kitty of $5,200. Basically, how the fantasy-golf pool works is that you pick a golfer each week and you get his prize money, but you can't pick the same player twice. This year presented a strange fantasy-golf dynamic, though, because my dad unexpectedly passed away in February.

When that happened, I vowed to study fantasy golf as much as humanly possible to somehow win the pool in remembrance of my father. And get a load of this:

It worked. Today was the final day of fantasy golf, and I held on to win $1,300 for the overall crown and an additional $350 from other side bets. I've never won that much in anything.

But it wasn't about the money. It was about my dad.Throughout the day, I was stressing if I could win the pool because a top competitor had Luke Donald, who missed being in a playoff by a mere stroke. As I was stressing, a big problem was that I went to a 6-year-old's birthday party and did not watch the golf or see many updates.

Eventually, the news came via a text message that the final result was too close to call and I'd have to see the PGA Tour's prize-money distribution to see if I won. After that news, I walked back to the party and participated in a game of water-balloon toss with my 4-year-old Chloe.

During the balloon toss, I had an array of thoughts that nearly made me weep. Would XMan be proud of my fantasy-golf obsession? Could I somehow pay someone $100,000 for five minutes with him? Why isn't balloon toss at all parties?

Playing balloon toss with a loved one is a beautiful thing, enjoyable and pure. Could anything be better?

Strange things happened today to make me wonder if fantasy-golf spirituality exists. It ended up that the final result was too close to call because the person on my heels was the son of the golf pool's founder. The actual winner of the PGA tournament was Bill Haas, the son of famous golfer Jay Haas.

Today was all about fathers and sons, fantasy golf and balloon toss. Simultaneously to this, my brother Fred did his best Roy Hobbs imitation to hit three home runs in a softball doubleheader, and the lowly Cleveland Browns improved to 2-1 to have their first winning record in four years.

What would the XMan say about all of this? Well, that's pretty obvious. He'd simply say, "You got to be kidding me. It's all luck."


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