I’ve hit a plateau. All forward progress – writing aspirations, job hunting, showering and other basic hygiene – has ceased. I have completely stalled. My roommate has started dusting. Hell, if it weren’t for e-mail, you wouldn’t be reading this column. Admittedly, I didn’t expect the obsession to reach this level. But am I upset by these circumstances? Surprisingly, no, I am not. And that’s because I can proclaim, with confidence, that for those of you who detest such mundane things as “productivity” and “accomplishments,” fantasy baseball is the greatest invention in the history of man. This, two weeks into my first fantasy baseball season ever, I can assure you.It was two months ago that I got a call from a buddy – the baseball season was beginning, and with it, a fantasy baseball league. Figuring that it couldn’t be too time-intensive, I joined. I quickly discovered that the fantasy involved in fantasy leagues is the idea that you will maintain any semblance of a normal life. I have completely forfeited any notion of an existence away from my computer – I say this as if I haven’t forfeited such a notion countless times before – and embraced my role as virtual general manager. Every morning, after I swim out of the drool that invariably lakes up on my pillow, I stumble over to my computer and immediately imagine myself going toe-to-toe with Theo Epstein. I’m just fortunate enough to be able to do so in my “chicks on fire” boxers – that poor bastard has to wear a suit to work. I was a baseball fan before fantasy baseball came around – it’s been my sport of choice for years, and despite my inexplicable loyalty to the Brewers – this is their year, by the way – I greet each season with a newfound vigor. But with fantasy, I transcend fan. There’s a fine line between being a fan and a fanatic, and someone just stuffed me in a cannon, rolled it right up to that line and dropped a nuke behind it. I’m so far over that line that I’ve lapped it. Aside from the Brewers, I no longer follow teams. Sure, it’s swell that the Detroit Tigers are defying the odds – and the gods – and have a winning record. And yeah, it’s fantastic that the Red Sox avenged last postseason in their opening series against the Yankees. But such trivial events are off my radar. I’m only paying attention to those players, five from the Sox – Pedro! – and a lone pitcher from the Tigers, that contribute to my team. I don’t care if Detroit loses and an asteroid crushes the stadium, just so long as their starting pitcher throws for a handful of strikeouts and a low ERA. The funny thing is, despite my dependency, the real problem here isn’t fantasy baseball.Rather, my obsession becomes crippling in my overwhelming desire to fantasize every other aspect of my day. Fantasy makes every moment, every otherwise insignificant event, exciting. The three hours of riveting at-bats and ball-fours that seduce me every night aren’t enough. I need more.I want to draft students in class and put them up against your squad – I bet my nerds’ll outscore your dumbass team on any given exam. I want to go out in the parking lot and assemble a fantasy team of cars, with points awarded for weekly fuel economy and top speed reached. I want Mom to bitch-slap some lady in her gardening club and plant a nasty team of azaleas and chrysanthemums, so I can whup ass in the total-growth and bees-attracted categories in my fantasy botany group. I don’t even know if a fantasy botany group exists, nor can I imagine Mom joining a gardening club or bitch-slapping anyone. But I can dream, can’t I?And yet, I also realize the restrictive effect that fantasy baseball is having on my life. That’s why part of me can’t wait for October, when the baseball season ends and my life returns to normal. I can get back to my writing, perhaps find a job and move out of my back-alley cardboard box. After seven months of this fantasy baseball burden, I’ll finally be able to restructure my days and establish a stable, healthy routine.Or I can join fantasy football.Janowitz can be reached at njanowitz@campustimes.org.

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