September Call Ups: How Yahoo Sports became the of Bromances

Posted on August 15, 2011


Geoff has been with his wife for the better part of fifteen years, and as such has not been single as an adult. While he has often been referred to as “The World’s Greatest Wingman,” there are still some dating rituals that are foreign to him. As a fairly outgoing (extreme understatement!) fellow, he was particularly skeptical of the online dating phenomenon. So imagine his surprise when he discovered last summer, during a conversation with two single, female friends in their late twenties, that attractive, socially well adjusted people actually use online dating sites quite frequently. Like a baby boomer struggling to grasp the usefulness of Twitter, this concept baffled him, especially now that he was working in New York City, presumably the greatest city in the world for a young, single person (This is definitely the case for single males; for single ladies looking for a steady mate, not so much).

His female friends proceeded to explain to him that the popularity of online dating was really a matter of efficiency, especially for busy professionals, and was not born out of some mass deterioration of social skills amongst 80s babies. By the end of the conversation, which was really more of a short course in the trials and tribulations of online dating, Geoff walked away fascinated by the way in which technology has changed the dating game. (Note: I don’t think that any single male under the age of  30 TRULY understands how easy they have it competing in today’s dating pool. I will respect Man Law by not delving to deep into this topic, but let’s just say that the technological and online developments of the past five to ten years have been akin to giving men HGH for dating. The competitive advantage is just flat out unfair for the savvy user.)

Given his newfound knowledge, it is only fitting that Geoff and Jeremy’s partnership would blossom out of a relationship that has developed purely online. And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Without further adieu, the legend of Pop Fly Boys…

It started innocently enough. Two guys in a fantasy baseball league deeply involved in trade talks, each looking to tweak his roster just so. One trade led to two, two to three, and so the courtship began. Eventually the trade talks blossomed into something greater, a mutual respect for each other’s passion for fantasy baseball. Jeremy exhibited a deep knowledge of, and love for, prospects; Geoff displayed an insatiable appetite for wheeling and dealing.

As the season progressed, the two exchanged hundreds…errrr, thousands of emails, seeking each other’s advice on potential trades and discussing general fantasy strategies. It was easy to forget that they were competing against each other for the same league crown, but the two somehow managed to develop a mutual respect for each other’s baseball acumen while maintaining their competitive fires. They even laughed about the possibility of one day co-managing a team, a dangerous proposition given that Jeremy was already deeply entrenched in a fantasy relationship. What made this budding rapport even more bizarre was that the two had never even met; hell they didn’t even know what the other looked like. No matter, the chemistry was undeniable.

Many weeks later, Jeremy unveiled a formula he’d developed for evaluating fantasy baseball talent, and was eager to make some money off his brilliance. This prompted Geoff to reveal his dream of eventually launching a blog dedicated to sports and pop culture. While neither idea was groundbreaking – frankly 99% of male sports fans probably wishes they could get paid for their passion – they both believed that they could establish a niche in the crowded world of sports writers and fantasy analyst. Like most burgeoning relationships, there was an obvious sense of hesitation from one side. It wasn’t that Geoff wasn’t in love with the idea, but he’d been similarly moved by previous moments of inspiration, only to see that spark fizzle and die before any real traction was built up. Unlike previous forays, this time he had a suitor that quite simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. Jeremy saw something he liked, and he’d be damned if he was going to let some cold feet stop him from getting it! Like any successful courtship, the persistence eventually paid off, and thus Pop Fly Boys was born!

If you’re reading this and thinking it reads more like the first few paragraphs of a Danielle Steele novel, rest assured this is the sappiest post you’ll ever read here; and no, Drake is not our ghostwriter. I guess we’re just a little choked up at the idea of finally moving forward with an idea, after years of telling our wives that we were on the cusp of the next big thing. We realize it’s a little late in the season and that a lot of you have already made that mental switch to fantasy football. For the true baseball fans, and fantasy geeks out there, we’re hoping to whet your appetite with a little knowledge to get you ready for the fantasy baseball playoffs, and to give you a small sample of what’s to come when we go all-in for the 2012 season. Who knows where this will go, but we damn well guarantee we’re gonna enjoy the ride! So, before we fall too far down the rabbit hole, a little bit about the authors.

Jeremy “J-Rock” Sickel

My family didn’t have cable television growing up until I was around 11 years old. My very first memory of it was waking up early every Saturday morning to watch Sportscenter on ESPN…back when it seemed like all ESPN had was Sportscenter; very different from the sports monster we all know and love today. They ran Sportscenter back to back to back all morning long and I would watch every single one of them…the same hosts uttering the same descriptions to the same highlights, but I didn’t care. My unconditional goal was to memorize the entire show so that by the end of the morning I could recite it word for word along with the hosts.

My fervor for sports, baseball in particular, began at a much earlier age though. I was always the shortest kid around…classroom, neighborhood, anywhere, so baseball was the only sport I could play and realistically be any good at. Sure I played basketball but I was relegated to the bench or the 3-point line…played football too but I usually had to play “all time QB” or the pass rusher…can’t tell you how many times I have counted to 5 Mississippi. So as early as I can remember my love for baseball began, playing in leagues in the spring, summer, fall and high school. I even went to a try-out for the Cleveland Indians that was held near my hometown of Kansas City, MO. Sorry for me, that obviously didn’t pan out…but it is great for the Pop Fly Boys.

I don’t go any longer than 30 minutes each day catching up on headlines, stories or anything sports related…I spend the first hour of my day managing my many fantasy teams and checking on breaking news that happened over night. I also run a few fantasy leagues as commissioner along with the many pools, for all sports, that I set up to keep busy and try to generate interest for sports with friends and family.

Hi, my name is Jeremy…and I’m a sports-aholic. They control my life from sun-up to sun-down and everything in between…I can’t control it…sports complete me!

Geoff “The Commish” Ratliff

True Story #1: There is a section in the 1995 edition of The Governor, the yearbook from my senior year of high school, called “Always Seen or Heard…” in which some funny phrase completes this sentence for each member of the senior class. The two words completing my sentence? “Organizing Pools.”

True Story #2: In this same yearbook, there is another section titled “Prophesy in Ten Years” in which it was predicted that I would grow up to be “President of the Casino Queen,” at the time the largest casino in my hometown of St.Louis, MO.

True Story #3: My high school temporarily banned the use of playing cards on campus because of my penchant for indulging in True Stories #1 and #2.

True Story #4: If I could have any job in the world, it would be commissioner of major league baseball (I’ll get to you later Bud, although I promise to take into account the fact that you are doing your damnedest to save my beloved Dodgers from the death grip of Frank McCourt). I have been prepping for my dream job by simultaneously serving as the commissioner for no less than three fantasy baseball leagues for at least the past six years, and I’m old enough to have been doing this before the use of online fantasy management systems.

True Story #5: My favorite song to sing at karaoke? “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow.

True story #6: My cat, JT, is named after Justin Timberlake. If he’d have been a girl, my wife and I would have named her Fergie.

What does all this mean? Well a few things actually. First is that I am not what you would call risk averse. This has not always been a good thing. Secondly, I am one of the few black people under the age of 40 that still sites baseball as his favorite sport; and it’s not even close. Thirdly, I am not afraid to reveal incredibly embarrassing facts about myself. Lastly, I LOVE pop culture. Hopefully this will lead to some insightful yet funny takes on baseball, and get me one step closer to realizing my REAL dream job; becoming the black Bill Simmons.

Welcome to the show ladies and gents! In the words of the great T.O. “Get ya popcorn ready!”

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