Ask NotGraphs (#5)

Dear NotGraphs,

I’m a father to an 11-year-old baseball fan. Ryan Braun is on my keeper league fantasy team. I want to make the point that breaking the rules isn’t okay. I also want to win my fantasy league. What should I do?

T-ryan to Set an Example

Dear T-ryan,

Hopefully you’re in one of my leagues, in which case my advice is to trade him to the first team that gives you a halfway-decent offer. Or not even a halfway-decent offer. Adam Dunn or something like that. That seems fair. You should do that. I’ll even throw in Chone Figgins.

If you’re not in one of my leagues, my advice becomes slightly more complicated. I think telling you to trade him is too easy. We don’t know everything that the players on our fantasy teams do. Even among players who get caught doing bad things, Braun is only one of many. Do you trade Miguel Cabrera because of his DUI? Josh Hamilton? Brett Myers? There may be some model citizens playing professional baseball, but most of us aren’t in the position to know who they are. If your child is looking for role models on your fantasy baseball team, that may be a problem.

Besides, at least Braun is potentially getting punished for his behavior. The 50-game suspension, assuming he deserves it, and it happens, is the penalty — for Braun, and for your team. And perhaps a lesson to your child that bad behavior can be punished, but then it can be forgiven, and one incident doesn’t have to ruin someone’s entire life. Unless you’re not trying to teach your child the lessons of mercy and forgiveness, in which case, maybe you should just sneak into a Brewers game with a pistol and shoot Ryan Braun dead.

You could also decide his 50-game suspension isn’t enough to teach your child a lesson, keep Braun on your team, and bench him all year. Tie up a roster spot for the whole season. But then you’d be punishing yourself more than anything else, no? And what did you do to deserve punishment aside from drafting an awesome player you had no reason to suspect was breaking the rules?

You did nothing wrong. And you shouldn’t feel the need to stock your fantasy team with players you want your child to emulate. You should be the role model, not Ryan Braun. Also, I’m serious about Dunn and Figgins. Think about it. They’re good people. Maybe. Dunn has always seemed pretty cool. And I can’t find anything on the Internet about whether Figgins is a nice guy or a jerk, so I’m going to assume the best.

Good luck,

Have a question for Ask NotGraphs!? Come on, I’ll answer anything. Even fake questions like this week’s, although I swear all of the previous ones have been real. And since I couldn’t even find a way to set myself up with a fake question that would let me write an actually-funny answer, you should really feel compelled to send me something, real or fake, it doesn’t matter. E-mail me, or leave your question in the comments, and yours might be next!

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Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a satirical novel that should make people who didn’t go to law school feel good about their life choices. Read more at McSweeney’s or elsewhere. He likes e-mail.

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T-ryan – it is only a matter of time until your beloved child inevitably learns the lesson ‘drugs are the gateway to fun’. Similarly, drugs used to win an MVP award or a fantasy league title are merely instances of drugs being an indirect pathway to fun. My advice would be to keep Ryan Braun, win your league, and if questioned by your son about any of this, simply reply ‘I’ll explain it when you’re older and not quite as dumb’.