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Fantasyland: what a real person does in a fake baseball world

Many fantasy baseball players wonder how they would stack up against fantasy experts. Jed Latkin received the opportunity in 2008 and is the main character in the film "Fantasyland," which is inspired by Sam Walker's book of the same name.

The documentary, which can be seen on snagfilms.com or hulu.com, gives a glimpse into the lifestyle of a fantasy player and follows Latkin around as he competes in Tout Wars, an expert league composed of 12 teams. He participated in the AL-only auction league.

"Anyone who's serious about fantasy baseball would kill to play in that league," Latkin said. "It was a real big challenge. Those guys were real good and they all knew their stuff."

People from the outside often don't understand the allure of fantasy baseball. Latkin, a financial analyst who lives in New York City, shows how obsessed the fantasy player can become on the extreme end. Right after the draft, Latkin was trying to make trades relentlessly. He was constantly on the phone trying to move players and even traveled halfway across the country to talk with some of the major-league players on his fantasy team to tell them how much he needed them to play well.

How obsessed was he? Latkin wanted to make a deal with Baseball HQ's Ron Shandler after Shandler sent out e-mails announcing he wanted to make trades. Latkin said Shandler didn't respond to his 200-300 e-mails or return his messages, so Latkin decided to take two days off from work and make a 7-hour, 45-minute drive unannounced from New York City to Roanoke, Va., to try and make a trade.

Another scene that drew the ire of some people was when Latkin was in the hospital as his wife was giving birth to twins and he was on the phone in the lobby trying to make a trade and almost missed their births.

"I wasn't going to miss their birth," Latkin said. "The mistake I made was when the doctor called, I didn't recognize the number and didn't pick up. Then they paged me over the intercom, so that was a little embarrassing."

If you are a die-hard fantasy player, you can relate in some manner. Others might think Latkin is out of his mind, but it gives a sense of what fantasy baseball can do to some people.

"Jed doesn't have a filter," director Stephen Palgon said. "He's like that 24/7. We were shocked from the moment we met him. My camera guy was asking if he was for real."

Latkin, who placed sixth in the league, wasn't invited back for the following season. The winner of Tout Wars doesn't get any money, just bragging rights. "I was disappointed that I didn't return," he said. "I enjoyed it more than any league I ever played in. It's not like playing in a regular league."

Said Palgon: "It meant a lot to him. That was like him playing in the major leagues."

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