I don't remember exactly what age I started playing fantasy baseball, I was probably between 13 and 15 years old. I do vividly remember the first league I did. I won it by .5 points on the strength of a big final week from Andujar Cedeno and a key Wes Chamberlain free agent pick up. I won saves with only Lee Smith and Stan Belinda. I remember that and it was probably close to 20 years ago yet I can barely remember much about any league I've done in the last few years.
Back in the early days of my fantasy baseball life SportsCenter was must see TV. We'd watch it together for the baseball highlights and there would be a "he's on my team!" yell from someone during every highlight. Each Tuesday a stat report was mailed to my house. I could have been hanging out with my friends but I would leave just to get home to get the mail (even if the friends I was hanging out with were in the league too; I wanted a stat report to myself). Now instead of SportsCenter, leagues have an up to date stat keeper. I can't remember the last time I watched SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight just to see how my team did.
Draft prep used to take weeks, a few magazines and about 20 sheets of loose leaf paper. At the draft, if someone asked to borrow a magazine they would be ridiculed. If someone drafted a player who was already picked it became a running joke for the rest of the draft. It was great. But the best part, especially for someone who loved it, was that those guys who did the pre-draft legwork or religiously scoured through box scores were always the guys who won. There is no reason to even prepare for the draft anymore. This might be the first year ever I didn't even buy a magazine. There is no point. I'll identify players that I'd like to try and draft but I'm not going to make a "sleeper" list. Why bother when everyone in the league can read a few sports web site's "sleepers" list and get the same information. Those guys do that for a living. When I did prepare for a draft I'd do it for a week. I'm not going to find somebody that they're not.
I used to love the draft. Everyone shuffling through papers and flipping through magazines are gone. The online draft also takes away one of my favorite draft phenomenons which is when 12 people can collectively forget about a player and him going two or three rounds later than he should have (although I think that had more to do with us all assuming he was taken and not wanting to be made fun of for bringing him up again). That doesn't happen any more. You do an online draft and you can have it ranked by the average draft position of every player in all the online drafts that have been done so far across the world. There is no way for a guy to slip through the cracks anymore. I miss that.
It's crazy to me that there was a huge portion of my life that I lived where the Internet didn't exist. I can say that the Internet has improved my life in countless ways but the one thing it destroyed for me was the truer fantasy sports experience.