“Patience is a virtue, but I don’t have the time!”

(The title, in case it sounds familiar, is stolen from an old song by Talking Heads. — r.a.)

I was planning to write today about the ballpark draft in the fantasy league I’m in, Legends of Baseball. But, as the philosopher Lennon said, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Legends of Baseball is a fantasy league where you can put together a team of players from throughout baseball history, from 1871 to the present. It’s what is called a “head-to-head” league, which means that instead of just having your players collect stats, you actually create a team and compete against other people’s created teams. That, in turn, means you’re working through a full 162-game, six-month schedule, and you have to set up pitching rotations and batting orders, define bullpen and bench roles and even decide your manager’s tendencies – when to bunt or not bunt, how often your players will steal bases, when you bring in relief pitchers, all that jazz. All of it is run through a baseball-game simulation software package called Diamond Mind, probably the most accurate baseball sim around. It’s not easy, but it’s a ton of fun.

All of that simulated game-playing is affected by the simulated ballpark you’re playing in, just as real games are affected by the real stadiums. A hit that would be a home run in Boston’s Fenway Park could end up just another fly out at the Oakland Coliseum, for instance, due to the positions of the fences, the temperature, the humidity, or even the altitude if you’re playing in Denver or Atlanta. There are all kinds of what are called “park factors” for every stadium that’s ever existed. The upshot is the owners in Legends of Baseball have to choose their home parks carefully. Beside that, the ballpark draft is the first event of the upcoming season, sort of like a Fantasy Baseball New Year celebration. And this year, it was scheduled for January 20 …

… and nothing happened.

Whose fault is this? No one’s, frankly. There were just a lot of non-park factors that have so far kept us from dealing with all those park factors.

L.O.B. is in an interesting transition time. The founder and commissioner for all 14 years of the league’s existence announced last year that he was stepping down once the 2008 season wrapped. For good reason – he’s now the principal of a Catholic school in Missouri, he’s going back to graduate school, and he’d like to spend some time with his wife and kids once in a while. He’ll co-own a team this year, but that’s all the commitment he can afford. Another owner in the league served as a commish-in-training, and has now taken over the reins. He’s doing a great job so far running the website and dealing with the headache of the rest of us owners.

Well, the ones of us who are still around, anyway. If you’ve noticed, whenever there’s a change at the top of an organization – a business, a church, a Cabinet department, whatever – there are always some people who don’t feel comfortable with it and (regardless of the quality of the new chief) decide to head elsewhere. And that’s what has happened with L.O.B. – two owners decided not to re-up for 2009, and another two owners haven’t let us know if they’re staying or going. Add that to the ex-commish serving as a co-owner with another returning owner, and the league has gone from 24 teams last season to a current 19.

But you can’t have an odd number of teams in a league, not in baseball where games are pretty much daily. One team would always be stuck doing nothing, and that plays havoc with scheduling. So we’re searching like mad for someone to become owner #20, and everything is delayed until he/she in gets locked in. Without knowing who the 20th team will be, we can’t set up the draft order for the teams, which means we can’t draft.

So we wait. And to quote Inigo Montoya, “I hate waiting.”

Patience has never been my strong suit. Not when I was a hyperactive little kid, and not now when I’m behind the wheel of my car, and not too many places in between. I mean, I met the Supermodel in June of ’98, asked her to marry me in September, and we got hitched in January. Does that sound like patience to you? it’s worked out, and I don’t regret it one bit, but it’s not exactly a textbook example of taking one’s sweet time.

And yet sometimes you don’t really have a choice. Things happen when they happen, and they’re out of your hands. So you can either grind your teeth, grind your gears and stress out about it until that little vein pops out on your forehead … or you can relax, maybe sing a chorus of “Que Sera, Sera” and let things take their time. No points for guessing which one is healthier.

Reinhold Niebuhr put it well in what we now know as the Serenity Prayer, a staple of recovery groups worldwide:

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

It took me a long time to start gaining that wisdom, but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. A little. I do know I’m better now at staying under the speed limit than I used to be, which I’m sure is an indicator of progress. And when the date for the ballpark draft came (and went) yesterday with no announcements, I shrugged and figured that it’ll happen eventually. No sweat broke out on my forehead, no vile oaths were screamed, and no deep cleansing breaths were required.

But I’m still looking forward to it. In fact … courage to change the things I can … if you think you might be interested in becoming that magic Twentieth Owner, check out the league website and see what you think of it. We’d be happy to have you aboard!

Okay, back to waiting …

(Postscript: from our Irony of Ironies Department … less than TWO HOURS after I posted this, the league got its twentieth owner.  Apparently I’m still not patient enough …)

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