Even though the baseball season will end shortly for A.J. Pierzynski, the White Sox catcher still will compete, and his teammates will be involved—only he'll play against them, not with them.
Like the employees of just about every other office in the city, he and some of his co-workers—er, teammates—play fantasy football. Turns out professional athletes want to win just as badly off the field as they do on it.
"I definitely would say it's pretty competitive," he said. "It's a lot of bragging rights. It's a lot of trash talking back and forth. It's fun."
It's also a hobby that has gotten out of control for some, which is why Pierzynski has made a conscious decision to limit himself to two fantasy leagues.
"It takes too much time otherwise," he said. "I know some guys who are in four or five leagues, and they have to spend all week getting it ready."
So what's the key to dominating your office league? Pierzynski said if your ground game is good, you're golden.
"Always draft a running back if you have one of the top couple picks because they usually score the most points," he said. "Other than that, you need a lot of luck, I think. Sometimes it comes down to luck and who happens to get in the end zone at the right times for you."
Over the years, he's had a number of memorable encounters with umpires on the field, earning himself six ejections during his career.
When asked if an ump has ever told him he's on one of his fantasy baseball teams and needs him to do well—the way one of the NFL replacement refs reportedly did to Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy recently—Pierzynski just shook his head.
"Oh my God," he said. "Nothing would surprise me with the fantasy refs, I think, at this point. I don't think that [a major league umpire] would do that because that wouldn't go over well I don't think."
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
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