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Friday, March 20, 2015

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FANTASY SPORTS?

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimates that 42 million people in the U.S. and Canada played some form of fantasy sports last year.  This tends to be a mostly male activity, and an earlier study showed that 22% of adult guys 18-49 were involved..  Fantasy sports are a $3-$4 billion industry.  What exactly is a fantasy sport and why do so many waste so much time at it?  

Let me use Major League Baseball as the example, for my first draft this year occurred this morning.  Typically, an organizer, like ESPN, through the internet, manages a whole range of leagues, usually conformed of ten teams.  You join one of them for about $10 (although this could escalate to hundreds, depending on what you select) according to certain parametric combinations.  My rotisserie (the other form is head-to-head competition) league this morning involved a draft where the ten teams linked at 8AM (Hawaii time) on the internet to each select 25 players (the eight positions,  various utility spots, around 9 starting and relief pitchers and three bench players):

DRAFT SETTINGS
Snake
Friday, March 20, 2015 at 2:00 PM ET
90
Randomized One Hour Prior to Draft Time

It took us around an hour and a half to complete the draft.  I'm continually amazed that nothing ever goes wrong.  The first time is intensely stressful because you're not sure how to pick a player.  There is continuous text chatting throughout the period.  Unless you form your own league with friends, the ten team managers don't know each other.  This year, there was a participant from Melbourne, and it 4 AM his time.  Oh, keep track of the injury list and don't draft those players.  I noticed one team this year with almost half on DTD, which stands for Day To Day.  A DTD player will still not be able to perform at peak level when they do play.

At the end of the draft 250 players are selected.  There are 30 major league baseball teams, and each has 8 position starters plus 6 good pitchers, so there are 480 or so total, meaning that 230 players are left as free agents, a number which grows as the season progresses.  You can at any time pick someone of this list to replace someone on your team.  Also, trades between teams are allowed.  With all these acquisitions and trades, you must adjust who plays everyday, for you don't want to start anyone who is not playing that day.

It takes a horrendous amount of time to keep up with what's happening, especially if you actually view these games on TV, as you will, to root for your player and "hope" that anyone not on your team gets injured.  Sort of like NASCAR.  You don't want anyone to get killed, but it helps your team if...well, you get the point.   This is very close to having a few bucks on NFL football games, which make watching a lot more interesting.  There is no team loyalty in fantasy sports, unless you only select players from one team, which will almost surely lead to failure.  An absolute must is the MLB Network.

The Overall Grand Prize RotisseTrie Premium Prize is:

    (a) Grand Prize (1): Trip for two to St. Louis, round-trip airfare, 3-day/2-night hotel accommodations, 2 tickets to a baseball game of Sponsors choice, and a game package that includes a $1100 dollar gift card, game console, and EA games. (Approximate Retail Value ("ARV"): $5,000)
    (b) 2nd Place (1): Game Pack. Game package includes an $1100 dollar gift card, game console and a EA game (ARV: $2000).


The reality is that, for the $10 game, you end up spending hundreds of hours, and, if you're lucky and win the league championship, will get something like a t-shirt.  Second place wins you nothing.  There are other kinds of competition where you can win tens of thousands of dollars, but the odds are subsequently lower.  My brother Dan is quite good at this, and I've won a few bucks in the past.

I only play when I think I have a secret winning strategy.  Last year I had three ESPN teams and they ended up #1, #2 and #3.  This year I have five teams and will refine this strategy, which has to do with relief pitchers.  I selected no starting pitchers, for in the past I noticed that many get injured and there are always hot pitchers on the free agent list.  This allows me to choose the better hitters in the draft who play everyday, keepers for the full season.  Starting pitchers take too many spots in your 25 man roster and they might pitch two games in a week every so often.

So, anyway, the season starts on Sunday, April 5, with the St Louis Cardinals at the Chicago Cubs.    In the draft I padded my team with players from these teams and will get rid of some of them that night.  All teams play 162 games.  There is a new wrinkle this year.  On the final day of October 4, all teams begin play at 3PM, Eastern Daylight Time.

If you've come this far and are still totally lost, try something like the Complete Idiot's Guide to Fantasy Baseball.  On the other hand, that was written 15 years ago, so maybe Winning Fantasy Baseball , which was published last year, or click on this site for others.

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