Fantasy, reality often blur

cabrera11
Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera hits a two-run home run in 2013. (Associated Press file)

“Miguel Cabrera steps to the plate. Bases loaded, one out in the eighth inning, Tigers down by two. No place to put him.

“Cabrera takes ball one. Here comes the second pitch – a line drive over the shortstop’s head! Two runners score, tying the game. The Comerica Park faithful jump to their feet and praise their hero, who comes through again!”

Are you among those cheering when the Detroit Tigers first baseman gets another crucial hit?

If you root for the Tigers, yes.

If you love to see excellence in action, yes.

If he’s on your fantasy baseball team, yes.

… what was that last one?

For the uninitiated (including me), fantasy sports are all the rage these days. Not just baseball, but fantasy football and basketball are big too, as well as other sports.

During the NFL season last fall, we saw numerous ads for DraftKings and FanDuel – which are fantasy sports games. Participants pick their sport, then pick players they think will do well that night or that week. If the chosen player has a good game, the gambler wins money. If not, he loses.

Aficionados dropped millions – if not billions – on fantasy football, either through those sites or in private leagues set up by friends. Many people are involved in multiple leagues of their own making.

That’s not my thing, but it is for many diehard sports fans.

us-video-games

Among the younger set, video games are the “in” thing. Those are fantasy too, even though they aren’t labeled as such.

We did not have video games in our house when our three sons were growing up, but we aren’t naïve enough to think that our guys never played a video game at a friend’s house.

Is fantasy a good thing as an escape from our everyday lives?

That’s almost a moot question. We can hardly avoid it.

I was raised on fairy tales, in books and TV shows – Bugs Bunny, Cinderella, the Three Little Pigs, Thomas the Tank Engine, the Little Engine That Could, and many others.

“Fairy tales,” by definition, are fantasies.

Some of those stories had a moral to them. Many did not.

One of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons involved Road Runner. That high-flying rabbit (“beep beep”) escaping Wile E Coyote’s violent attempts to obliterate him time after time … would that even be allowed in today’s politically correct climate?

Here’s a clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWdFIXn2Mdo

Some people live most of their lives in a fantasy world. When we spend our lives texting while driving – ignoring the very real traffic conditions around us – we are putting ourselves and others in danger. Are we not willing to open our eyes to the world around us?

The world is not all evil to escape from. There’s plenty of beauty to behold, in nature and in people.

Do our presidential candidates even understand reality? Sometimes the lines get blurred. Really blurred.

las vegas

Here’s another one: the slogan “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

Oh, really now. When we engage in “fantasies” there, won’t they catch up to us back home?

What is reality, anyway?

It’s what exists. A job (or lack thereof), marriage and children, our bodies, our minds, our homes and vehicles and everything in them – lots of things. The people in our lives, whether we appreciate them or not.

Not everything that exists is visible. We know that air exists, even though we can’t see it. So is gravity. God exists too, and we don’t have to look very hard to see evidence of him. Really.

Reality is true whether you or I believe it or not. We breathe air. That does not depend on my belief or lack thereof. It just is.

But fantasy is part of life. We can’t escape it, nor should we, necessarily.

Yet when something fantasy becomes all too real and begins to define us, perhaps we’ve crossed a line. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t.

Talk with a friend. Lift your head up and look around. Read. (Not everything you read is real, so choose your books and publications wisely.)

Let Miguel Cabrera be your hero because he truly is, not because you’ve rented him on your fantasy team for a week or a season. Can you cheer for the Tigers – or any other team – if you have a fantasy team that consists of players from multiple “real” teams?

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a baseball World Series since 1908. That’s real. They’re the favorites to do it this year. If the entire 25-man roster contributes, they could.

The roster includes substitutes who aren’t on anyone’s fantasy team. Those are the guys who will decide the World Series champion. The superstars don’t always hit or pitch with the season on the line. The middle reliever and the pinch-hitter have to do their part, too.

That’s reality. And that’s what makes baseball so much fun. It’s the little guys, the underdogs, the players who don’t get the headlines every night.

Like me, in my life. And you too. We will decide whether life is worth living. One person at a time.

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