Monthly Archives: August 2010

Fantasy Football For All

I received the following e-mail from a curious Daddy Files reader a few days ago:

Dear Aaron, I saw you mentioned fantasy football in one of your posts and as a wife to a guy who is obsessed with it, I need to know WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?? As far as I can tell you’re picking real players to play on made up teams and you’re putting money on it. It’s fake!!! Are you all really that pathetic? And what’s worse, for the next four months I hear about it constantly. He’s checking his teams (because he has like 6 of them) on his phone at family outings. He needs to make sure to hit the “waiver wire” (whatever the hell that is) to get new players. And he’s constantly trying to trade with his friends. It’s a sickness. I’ve asked him why it’s such a big deal but he says he can’t explain it. So I’m hoping you can.

Thanks, Pissed Off Wife

Well POW, you’re in luck. I was going to delve into the world of fantasy sports and you provided me with the perfect segue. So here goes.

Most men, myself included, played some sort of sport at some point in their lives. But if they’re anything like me, they’ve long ago given up pursuits of athletic glory. Probably because they’re now 30-40 pounds overweight, working full-time at a sedentary desk job and too busy being a husband and a father for such endeavors. But at the same time, we miss our playing days. Being around the guys. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Not to mention the locker room talk, which we can’t do anymore because our wives hate it and our kids will mimic it.

That’s where fantasy sports come into play.

Here is a concept that allows us to pick and manage our very own professional sports team. We draft the players, make free agent acquisitions, craft trades and try to guide our franchise to a championship trophy. We get the opportunity to do our research, take a chance on rookie or unknown and watch as he leads our team to the promise land. And we can do it all on our phone or from the comfort of our couch.

But the best part is we are playing against our friends. Make no mistake, that is the main value of fantasy sports. At least for me.

My primary fantasy football league has been in existence since 2004. Almost all of my closest friends are a part of it, including my dad and my brother. We live all over New England and my brother is in Baltimore. Most of us are married and half of us have kids now. Needless to say getting us all in one place is quite the task. But even with work, kids and long travel times, each and every one of us has made it year after year for draft night. Being there in person is a requirement actually, or else you forfeit your team.

In fact draft night is so important that one of my brother’s only stipulations upon moving to Baltimore with his future wife Melissa was that he be allowed under every circumstance to return for the draft in August of every year. No matter what. I think he even has it in writing.

And speaking of draft night, it’s awesome. Well, if you’re a guy it’s awesome. Women would probably take one look at us in a dank basement reeking of farts and beer and wonder how the hell we manage to tie our shoes on a daily basis. But for us, it’s heaven.

We come from all walks of life. We are journalists, lawyers, stockbrokers, store managers, veterans, teachers and pharmaceutical salesmen. Some of us are sports fanatics who develop multi-tiered Excel spreadsheets and color-coded pie graphs to assist us with drafting. Others pick up a Fantasy Football magazine minutes before we arrive. There are 12 teams, and the team names over the years have been the best. This year I’ve returned to an old favorite, The Killer Brushis. But I’ve been the CU Next TuesdayS, My Boys Can Swim and Mike Vick’s Rape Stand. Craig’s team this year is simple: “Ass and Titties.” Dino went with “Deadly Sausage Farts” (if you know him you know the moniker is apropos) and my brother is “Dead Guys Rule,” because last year he drafted former Bengals WR Chris Henry. I say former because Henry is now dead. Needless to say when you draft a dead guy you’re going to hear it from people.

And speaking of hearing it, man we lay into each other. Because we’re all great friends, it means the taunting is especially vicious since none of us hold a grudge. Like this year, for instance, when we were all sitting around the grill cooking dinner before the draft and my friend Billy showed up. With veggie burgers. We immediately began eviscerating him but it got even worse when we found out he stopped eating red meat only because his 5-year-old son got wicked upset when he found out red meat comes from cows. So Billy, who never met a steak he didn’t like, is now a vegetarian all because his little boy doesn’t want to hurt cows. Billy, you’re a complete jackass and a total pansy.

Not to mention he also drafted Ben Tate, the Houston Texans running back who sustained a season-ending injury before the draft. Of course that’s nothing next to the year he drafted WR Peerless Price…IN THE FIRST ROUND! The bitch of it is he went onto win the league on two separate occasions. The fantasy gods work in mysterious ways.

One year the draft actually doubled as a bachelor party for our buddy Kelly. We had a friend of a friend who did a little “dancing” for a “gentlemen’s establishment,” so we hired her for the night to write all the names of the players on our draft board and get us beers. Topless. And she did lap dances too. Which was hysterical because I didn’t tell my father she was going to be there, and you should’ve seen his face when this girl suddenly whips her shirt off. So of course we threw a few $20 bills on his lap and delighted in his obvious discomfort.

The bottom line is we need that one night of year. Some women may not understand that or disagree, but it’s true. Draft night is one of the best nights of my year because I get to see all my friends. In between the insults and beating the crap out of each other, we catch up. Share pictures of our kids. Talk about life in general. A few of us always end up staying the night and it’s great, even if we can’t remember it all the next morning.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I thank my lucky stars every day that I’m married to MJ, because she gets it. A lot of wives give their husbands shit about stuff like this. But not MJ. She sends me off with a kiss and a smile and tells me to have a ball. And she means it. That’s rare. I know many women who think this is childish and stupid. They scold their husbands for hanging on to something so juvenile and they deride them, saying we should stay home and deal with our responsibilities. But when it comes to buying another pair of shoes or performing a hobby they like but we think is the dumbest thing on Earth, we’re just supposed to go with the flow. I’ve seen it so many times and it irks the shit out of me.

But fuck that. Those women suck and I want to pitch them over a cliff. MJ knows how important my friends are to me. She also knows I more than pull my weight around the house. I’m a good husband and a good father and she recognizes the importance of connecting with friends every once in a while.

Because that’s really what the draft is. Sure we’ll argue for weeks leading up to draft night about whether to take Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson with the #1 pick (I’d go with Peterson for what it’s worth), but draft night is all about buddies. Camaraderie. Of if you’re a woman and still don’t get it, it’s some warped and twisted version of Girls Night Out. Except with a lot more farting and belching and calling each other derogatory names.

It may sound stupid, but it’s more important than you might think. So guys, enjoy the upcoming fantasy season. And ladies, thanks for being cool about it.

And for those who care, here’s my team this year. Obviously it’s the best one!

STARTERS

QB: Matt Schaub

WR: Andre Johnson

WR: Jeremy Maclin

WR: Mike Sims-Walker

RB: Cedric Benson

RB/WR: LeSean McCoy

TE: Visanthe Shiancoe

K: Laurence Tynes

DEF: San Diego

BENCH PLAYERS:

RBs: Thomas Jones, Toby Gerhart

WRs: Mohammed Massquoi, Devin Hester

QB: Sam Bradford

TE: Heath Miller

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Excitement Galore

I know, I know. It’s been more than a week since my last post. Inexcusable really, but I’ve had a lot of excitement in my life lately.

First of all, my good friend Christine got married last Friday. She was absolutely beautiful, her husband is a kick-ass guy and the wedding was phenomenal. And if I do say so myself, MJ and I didn’t look too shabby either. I rented a tux and MJ wore a gorgeous dress. Have a look.

Every time I look at her I wonder how I ever ended up with someone so beautiful.

Anyway, we had a spectacular time. The band was great, the food was excellent and if there were ever two people meant for each other it is Christine and Patrick. We celebrated long after the band played it’s last song, drinking and carrying on in the hotel lobby bar of the Intercontinental Boston. It was last call at 2 a.m. and we were meandering into the lobby, when all of a sudden the fire alarm went off.

We were evacuated and not let back inside for the next 7 hours. Some hotel guests slept on the lawn opposite the hotel. Many were still in tuxes and evening gowns. Others in robes. Like refugees, people wandered to the Boston Harbor Hotel where they slept on couches, chairs and the floor in the lobby. The bride and groom spent their first night as husband and wife on the ballroom floor of the hotel, sleeping under a tablecloth because the hotel had run out of blankets.

As for me? Well, a good reporter is never off-duty. So I called in the details to the Boston Herald’s city desk and set them up with interviews. My contributing line is at the end of the article. Check it out. And also this video, which features my best friend’s sister Taylor as the first person talking.

After the wedding, it was time to prepare for my trip to Martha’s Vineyard to cover President Barack Obama’s family vacation.

It was…interesting.

We stayed in a beautiful house, but with lots of other media people so I slept on the couch the first night. We weren’t included in the White House press pool, so we basically had to stalk the President. Which means we parked near where he was staying for hours on end and waited for a motorcade to form. And then we frantically followed it. I didn’t meet Obama, but I saw him a few times along with the First Lady and the presidential daughters, Sasha & Malia.

At one point Obama went golfing and no matter where we went the Secret Service was giving us the boot. So I turned to technology.

I whipped out my Droid and accessed Google Earth. I found a road with some houses that abut the golf course. Then I drove up to the house, introduced myself to the owner and begged him to give us permission to take pictures from his land. And because the Secret Service can’t tell private homeowners what to do on their own land, they had to let us stay. So we took pictures of Obama teeing off in front of us. Pretty cool, and all praise to my mighty smart phone.

So in the last week I watched a good friend get married. And at said wedding, I had the experience of being evacuated because of a fire and writing a story about it. Then I saw the leader of the free world multiple times in person. Pretty cool huh. But alas, it was not the pinnacle of excitement for me this week.

You see, Will is potty training right now. He uses a small potty sometimes, but also uses a special set that goes on the regular toilet. No matter which one he uses, he pees in the potty like a champ. We have stopped putting diapers on him during the day and even at night, although he sleeps with a diaper, it’s usually pretty dry in the morning. We’re so close to swearing off diapers forever.

But the number one obstacle is number two.

Will had refused to shit in the potty. He just wouldn’t have it. In fact, he opposed it so much he’d hold in his poops for as long as possible and give himself stomachaches. Kid is stubborn, just like his mother. But last weekend, after a crazy amount of prodding and positive encouragement, it finally happened. He dropped a doozy. A deuce to end all deuces. It curled around the whole bottom of the potty. Pretty impressive actually.I wanted to take a picture but MJ drew a line in the sand. Wuss.

Now I’ve lived through two Red Sox World Series. Three Patriots super bowl wins. And a Celtics NBA world championship. But the celebration I broke into when my son defecated into a plastic receptacle trumped all of them. I used to think I’d trade anything for a Sox championship trophy. But the idea that I’ll never have to buy diapers for Will again is the most thrilling prospect imaginable. And not changing them anymore?? Sweet Jesus it’s like a living wet dream for parents.

So that’s been my jam-packed week. Weddings, fires, fantasy football drafts, Presidents and my son shitting in a plastic bin. The fun never stops.

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#%*@ I’m Old

Birthdays. They ain’t what they used to be.

Yesterday, my 31st birthday, started off in dubious fashion. As in my wife forgot about it. She overslept, rushed into the shower, didn’t even have time to get Will ready while I showered and then left for work. But I couldn’t give her too much shit because the night before, I forgot my own birthday. MJ was asking Will if he knew what day it was tomorrow (meaning Daddy’s Birthday) and I had no friggin idea what she was talking about.

Maybe our collective Alzheimer’s should’ve been the first tip something was amiss.

An hour later MJ called me and apologized for temporarily forgetting my birthday. She also told me she had all these wonderful things planned that morning like breakfast in bed and maybe even a morning “sandwich,” and apologized for things having gone haywire. I told her it was no big deal and we could just make up for lost time after work.

Bless her heart, MJ asked my parents if they could come down and watch Will so we could actually go out for an adult dinner and — gasp — even a movie! Since my parents pounce on every opportunity that presents itself to seize my son like rabid wolverines are awesome and thoughtful, they agreed. The only problem is I was working on a front page story and the guy I needed to interview wasn’t available until 4 p.m. That means I had to spend 20 minutes interviewing him and only then could I begin to write the story. Which meant our plans were once again fucked and the movie part of our date was out.

I love my job. But the downside is the total lack of a set schedule. I never know where I’m going to be or when I’m going to be called in because of an accident, fire, murder, etc. And even after I hand in a story, the editors often have questions or changes they need to make. That means they call me, no matter what time it is, to go over the story. For MJ, this means more dinners than I can count have been interrupted by repeated phone calls I have to take outside, which can last for 10-15 minutes a clip.

Thankfully our dinner went great, with no interruptions. We went to a nice Italian restaurant and MJ looked beautiful. We didn’t have to skip appetizers because of an impatient child, and we could eat at a normal pace because we didn’t have a child acting like a ticking time bomb in a highchair next to us.

Now you’d think because it was my birthday that I would indulge with a few alcoholic beverages. But you’d be wrong.

Instead, I have MJ drink to her heart’s content. Because in my old age I’ve learned that sure it’s fun for me to get a little drunk, but I have a much better time if my wife gets bombed. Drunk MJ is decidedly more feisty and relaxed than Business MJ. And the likelihood of sandwiches increases exponentially with each extra dirty martini she imbibes.

Yes sir, things were looking up indeed. MJ told me to order whatever I wanted and the first thing that caught my eye was my all-time favorite dish: penne with chicken, broccoli and alfredo sauce. Words cannot express how much I love this meal. I would eat it every single day if possible. But I don’t. In fact, I rarely eat that particular culinary masterpiece. And for a very good reason. Without getting too graphic, heavy rich sauces with loads of fat content tear my insides apart. But in the heat of the moment and since it was my birthday, I decided what the hell. More on this later.

Dinner was great and MJ was feeling very loose. Even though we had missed the movie it was still fairly early and we figured we’d make a romantic night of it.

The first problem, however, was that I couldn’t stop yawning. Sure it was only 8 p.m., but apparently I’m 31 going on 90. But I fought off the sleep trying to overtake my body and suggested that MJ and I find a secluded spot along a beach and have a little fun. We chose the Sandwich Boardwalk, which is a picturesque and beautiful boardwalk through some marshlands that eventually leads to the beach. Truly the perfect place for us to reconnect.

Except we couldn’t find it.

We’d both been there before multiple times, but for the life of us we couldn’t remember how to get there. No worries though, because MJ had a Plan B. She told me she recognized the general area we were in and knew of a secret beach spot we could go to for some privacy. But as we wandered through a maze of back roads, something suddenly soured my mood.

“Um, baby? How is it that you know about this secret beach?” I asked skeptically.

“I used to come here when I was younger,” she said.

“Uh huh. And by ‘come here’ I’m guessing you’re talking about the most literal and sexual definition of the phrase. I can’t believe you’re taking me to some place you used to bang other guys in high school.”

“I never had sex with anyone at this spot,” MJ said with an indignant tone. “I did that a few towns over in Falmouth.”

Right about then we found a spot, but if the thought of making out with my wife in the same spot she did God knows what with other guys 15 years ago didn’t ruin the mood, my gut told me something else was going to. As she snuggled up to me I felt a familiar rumbling in my stomach and I knew, right then and there, the night was over. In less than 20 minutes the alfredo had torn through my intestines and was now contemplating a hasty exit.

“We’ve gotta go back home. Now,” I said while starting the car back up.

“Why? What’s wrong?” MJ said.

“Well in addition to the risk of going outside and accidentally stepping on the ejaculate of your former boyfriends, I…I just have to…I have to go home,” I said, trying to preserve what little dignity I had left.

“Oh my God, get over it,” MJ said. “Are you really upset about guys you don’t even know from years ago?”

“Look, I have to take a crap OK?”

And there it was. Ten years ago I could’ve eaten whatever I wanted and had a bunch of drinks. Then I would’ve had a secluded spot of my own in mind. I would’ve been wide awake despite the fact that I probably didn’t go to bed until 6 a.m. the night before, and I would’ve had buck wild crazy sex in the car for 7 minutes all night long.

But the difference between 21 and 31 is significant.

Last night I could barely stay awake because I was tired from work and from potty-training a 2-year-old. We can’t find the make-out spots anymore because it’s been so long since either of used one that we can’t remember their locations. And when we do try to get romantic, the date is ruined because I have to rush home to take a massive dump due to a sensitive stomach.

Happy birthday to me.

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Kiss My Butt

I think it went right under the radar because of everything else that’s been going on, but we’ve started potty training Will.

And it sucks.

Today alone we went through a half dozen pairs of underwear. He pissed through five and took a huge dump in the sixth. I hate this. I’m very impatient and even though technically he’s making good progress, it’s not fast enough for me. I’ll admit, he’s fairly good about peeing in the potty. He’s gotten to the point where he tells us just before (but sometimes right as) he has to pee. So it’s not peeing that’s the problem.

We try to limit his diapers to nighttime only, so we’ve put constantly trying to force him on the potty to take a shit. So far it hasn’t gone well. In fact, he’s so rebellious and obstinate that he recently went 36 hours without dropping a deuce. During that span, as you can imagine, he was complaining about his stomach.

But today it’s like we hit the shit jackpot.

He can’t stop pooping. And worse than that, he’s pooping hard, golf ball-sized nuggets. I’m not sure how he’s physically passing these Gulliver-esque shitballs through his tiny bum, but I know it hurts him. And until today, when something has hurt him he’d always ask us to kiss it better.

Enjoy the video, and sorry about the quality.

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What Would You Do?

I’m in a bind.

Earlier this week I was picking Will up at daycare. I routinely spend a few minutes chatting with my provider. When I asked how Will did that day she smiled and told him to repeat what they say before meals. At that point, to my displeasure, Will said “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food.” Some people, like my wife, think that’s cute. I was less than amused. Because while I was fully aware my provider is very religious, I did not expect her to teach religion to my son. Frankly that’s not something I want him exposed to. But I let that one go because eventually he’ll go to church with MJ and I figure I shouldn’t get upset about harmless exposure to religion. So I sucked it up.

But she wasn’t done yet.

She then asked me about my job. I told her that next week I’m headed to Martha’s Vineyard for a few days because President Obama and the First Family are vacationing in Chilmark and I’ll be covering a portion of their visit for the paper.

Wrong move.

The mere mention of Obama’s name got her started on a mini anti-Obama tirade, which I patiently weathered with a half-hearted smile as I listened to the familiar rhetoric. But then she started telling me about a carnival somewhere (New Jersey I think, go figure!) where you could pay $5 and throw things like balls and plates at a mannequin of Obama. But regrettably, she said, it was shut down after someone was offended and complained.

“Well some people are always going to be offended by stuff like that,” I said as I collected Will and my things to leave.

And then she dropped the hammer.

“Yeah but they get offended by this kind of stuff and never the things they should be offended by,” she said. ” You know, like taking prayer out of school and gay marriage.”

I’m not usually stunned or silent. But this time I was both. Thankfully her elderly mother had just come home and that provided me with an out. Because honestly, at that point I was so angry I’m not sure if the words that came out of my mouth would’ve been advisable.

When I got home I let my anger subside and tried to think about things rationally.

On one hand, it’s a free country and everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. And this is an in-home daycare, which means she’s free to espouse any viewpoint she wants in her own house. She’s religious and conservative, just like some of my friends and family, and so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that she’d be against homosexuals having the right to marry. And if I decided to pull my son from her care simply because we disagree politically, isn’t that me being intolerant of her religious beliefs?

I pride myself on having friends from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some believe in God and others are atheist. Actually, I probably have more conservative friends than liberal, despite my left-leaning tendencies. And I’m a firm believer that our differences, and specifically our ability to get along despite those differences, are what makes the world go round.

But in the end, for me, this is about more than ideological differences.

I have friends and relatives who are gay. I have aunts who are legally married with children. MJ and I are teaching Will to be tolerant of all lifestyles, races, religions, etc. And yet the woman I pay to watch Will felt there was nothing wrong with telling us — her paying clients — that our friends and relatives are in fact, offensive.

That’s just not right.

So I confronted her the next morning and calmly told her that while I don’t want to preach or make her conform to my more liberal viewpoint, MJ and I are very much in favor of gay marriage. And I told her about our family members, and why I was insulted and offended by her remarks. Then I told her, in no uncertain terms, that I did not EVER want Will to hear her say that homosexuality is wrong.

She told me that while she won’t preach in front of Will, she firmly believes homosexuality is wrong. That it’s against God’s will and that it’s a sin. However, she oh-so-kindly said she “hates the sin and not the sinner.” As if that somehow makes the bigotry palatable. And for kickers, her ex-husband — who she is best friends with — is gay. But she still thinks he’s a sinner.

Look, I know that when you opt for daycare (as we have to), you take your chances by having someone else spend so much time with your kids. And everyone is different. I am a proponent of Will being surrounded by all types of different people with varying viewpoints.

But I think this is a different story.

This person thinks being gay is wrong. She believes a whole segment of the population, my loved ones included, shouldn’t have the same rights as she does. And I’ve witnessed first-hand that she has no problem saying so in front of my impressionable 2-year-old. Will is not dumb. Sometimes you only have to say something once and he never forgets it. And even though my provider is generally a nice enough woman, the fact that she openly looks down upon gay people for no good reason is very troubling. And unacceptable.

I’m all about celebrating differences, but there’s no room for intolerance and bigotry. And I think we’ll be finding another daycare for Will as soon as we can, because as parents we have to be comfortable with the authority figures we let into our kids lives. And if I’m paying someone for a service, I don’t think I (and especially Will) should have to be subjected to offensive remarks regarding the people I love.

What’s so hard about teaching young children love and acceptance as opposed to exclusion and derision?

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