Originally signed by Tampa Bay for $7.6 million out of San Isidro, Dominican Republic, in Season No. 20 of Aaron Gleeman’s Hardball Dynasty league, Delino Guapo has been both a top prospect and a relative disappointment after failing to even approximate at the major-league level his excellent numbers from the minors. Following mid-season trade to Burlington, however, Guapo was more productive, slashing .283/.311/.421 in 145 at-bats — many of them in Burlington’s pitcher-friendly ballpark — while also going 9-for-12 on stolen-base attempts.
Guapo enters Season No. 26 as Burlington’s starting right fielder. He recently sat down with the author, who is also Guapo’s general manager and manager and human caretaker, in general.
Carson Cistulli: So, you’re a fictional ballplayer?
Delino Guapo: Yes. I’m entirely virtual — basically just an algorithm to which has been ascribed the most cursory of human-type details: a country of origin, aesthetically unpleasant facial hair, a hat with a letter on it.
CC: And yet I’ve been thinking about you for much of the day — like, despite the fact that I have a job, and one of my grandparents is ill, and I spend much of my time feeling rather isolated from human contact.
DG: That appears to be the case.
CC: Any reason why that might be?
DG: Well, I certainly won’t endorse your behavior, but it’s also true that life is rather difficult — even for someone as relatively well-off as yourself. Friendships are certainly more difficult to establish as you get older, there being fewer and fewer pretenses (like school or athletics, etc.) upon which to meet people. Also, you clearly find some meaning within baseball and its various symbols — which, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
It could very well be worse, don’t forget: meditating upon even a fictional and computer-generated version of baseball prevents you from collapsing in upon yourself and suffering panic attacks, which has been an issue for you.
CC: That’s something I’ve considered myself. There’s a balance that one must — or, in this case, I must — strike, right? On the one hand, one oughtn’t deny one’s own humanity. On the other, there are a lot of hours in the day that need filling.
What I’m concerned about, though, is this: am I actively missing out on potentially fulfilling relationships because of my attachment to virtual baseball and fantasy baseball and real baseball? Am I too attached to what is perhaps merely a diversion?
DG: Dismissing baseball — again, even in its virtual forms — as a diversion is dishonest. Myths of some sort are required for navigating one’s way through life. You are clearly less enchanted by some of what we might call the more “traditional” myths — like the ones found within the Judeo-Christian tradition, for example. Games provide a powerful narrative, though — and that’s likely the thing to which you’re reacting.
As to whether you’re “missing out” on relationships, etc. — the answer is probably “yes.” But, given the success of some of the friendships you already have established, you’ve also developed a rather exacting collection of criteria that you’re looking for in a potential new friend. Befriending new people is made more difficult for that reason.
CC: Hm. That’s true… So, this season, are you going to be good? Because that’s why I traded for you.
DG: Probably. My contact and patience scores are pretty good. Also, my baserunning ratings suggest I’ll steal bases at a pretty high rate of success — which is rather important while playing in the totally virtual Burlington park.
Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.