Book Review: How Fantasy Sports Explains the World by AJ Mass

I was headed out to Vegas for a long weekend and I took a copy of How Fantasy Sports Explains the World by AJ Mass. The book is due to release this August and is well worth the purchase— especially for us die hard fantasy sports players. The irony of this book selection was AJ’s past life experience as a Black Jack dealer in Atlantic City. The first chapter addresses AJ’s Christmas Eve adventure with Allen Iverson in Bally’s Atlantic City. We all know AI’s addictive ways and his penchant for gambling but this chapter just got me more in the mood for my Vegas Vacation (alas, I lost $600 but worth EVERY penny). We all know that fantasy sports is a form of gambling. AJ does a great comparison between blackjack and  fantasy sports. I love both activities but never understood why until I read this book. I love his comparison to the blackjack player who sits on 16 and the fantasy football player that benches Peyton Manning against Pittsburgh and starts Jimmy Clausen against Cleveland. Gotta play the odds and sitting on 16 ain’t gonna get it done.

This book is a light hearted read. Nothing stuffy or egotistical. In fact it was downright hysterical at many points. I plowed through this masterpiece in one flight from Philly to the City of Sin. I’m still in a state of shock that AJ was able to tie Star Wars, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Sylvia Browne (the fraudulent foe psychic), Stephen Hawkings, and a paper mache fish head to fantasy sports. All his comparisons were legit. However, I glossed over his ramblings on Harry Potter as I have never read or watched one of those stories. I loved the Star Wars tie in as he addresses the Dark Side of Fantasy Football (trust me we all have a Sith Lord in are midst). One of the most poignant quotes:

The Death Star was destroyed for one reason and one reason alone — cockiness. Darth Vader and the Evil Empire simply didn’t consider the need to truly play defense against the possibility of attack.

That chapter in particular confirmed my number one thought in fantasy football — never take your foot off the pedal, never sit back and accept your teams greatness. AJ Mass emphasizes how the Empire made this mistake by not going after the Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon when they had their chance. This is the key mistake the Empire made. As AJ writes:

Going for the jugular in fantasy might also mean doing things that sound counter-intuitive.

He even interviews, Stevie Ward, the host of VH1’s Tough Love. We have all seen this sad show on reruns — Stevie hosts while “unlucky in love women” go through a dating crash course reboot lesson. Mr. Ward tries to educate them on the error of their ways. Stevie’s take on fantasy football:

He says one of the most common things that people forget is that they are, in fact, allowed to make their own decisions and not become slaves of the opinions of others.

Stevie is a die hard Philly fan so you know that I had to give him a shout out (with my Eagles roots and all).

AJ Mass has obviously been a commissioner of many fantasy sports leagues (at least I would hope being ESPN’s fantasy sports analyst). AJ has put together the best list of all time. I was on the plane laughing hysterically as I read this. Now I can’t give away all 12 of his “fantasy personalities and their descriptions but I can give you his top 6 (without the detail): The Loose Cannon, The Diplomat, Old Reliable, The Ninja, Fresh Meat, and The Idiot Savant. Now I strongly recommend going out and buying this book just to find out the last 6 that complete this list and to read the mouth watering descriptions of your fellow league mates. I call it as I see it and I have spent a hell of a lot more then $24.95 to laugh a hell of a lot less! In fact if you pre-order now from Amazon you can get it for a mere $16.47 – now there is no excuse I spend more then that on a case of Busch Lite!

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