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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FANTASY BASEBALL?

Probably not, for fewer than 20% of Americans participate in fantasy sports.  Two thirds are male and the average age is 37.  While the concept is said to have gained ground 40 years ago, it was not until the early 90's, when the internet became popular, that competition expanded.  I got addicted when I had to call in my adjustments a very long time ago.  The sponsor keeps track of all the statistics, and automatically adjusts your team in real time.  One week my brother came in second and I third, in the nation!  Overall we have both actually won money while wasting enormous amounts of our life.

A quarter century ago I not only had several fantasy teams in each major sport (baseball, basketball, football), but was into golf, and also once traveled to Las Vegas to participate in a live draft.  My current interest is only baseball, and the Major League Baseball season begins tomorrow.

Alas, my ESPN NCAA Basketball Brackets were dismal:  87%, 71% and tada...6%.  None of the 375,000 employees of Warren Buffet made the Sweet Sixteen.  However, eight winners will split $100,000 for surviving the longest.

It was half a century ago when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated that professional sports in the USA honored a 3-day moratorium.  Thus, on 10 April 1968, every major league baseball team began the season on the same day.  Tomorrow, 29 March 2018, all teams only for the second time ever, perform on Day One.  This is the earliest start in Major League Baseball, to accommodate more days off for teams.  As far as I know, there are no scheduled doubleheaders.  However, rainouts will occur, and sometimes teams make up that game by playing two the next day, or later, many times charging separate admissions.  These doubleheader days can be a bonanza for some leagues, for you can maximize hitters playing in both games.

What are fantasy sports, anyway?  Simply, this is an online game where participants usually form leagues (organized by the sponsor--although friends can create their own league with adjusted rules), assembling virtual teams of real players.  You lose total loyalty to teams and only root for your players.  Every game becomes important, and you want your player to do well, and hope anyone not on your team does poorly, with some wishing they get injured.  The game is brutal.

For those with an interest in joining a baseball league for the first time, here are the steps, and I'll simplify the competition to ESPN baseball, which is free:
  • Sign up with ESPN:  Read ESPN Fantasy Baseball 101
  • Through a series of clicks, you will eventually be sent to the Live Draft Lobby,  where you can join a league.
  • Your first decision is to select which type of live draft
    • auction:  where bidding by team owners determines player value:
      • you need to be smart about trying get Mike Trout and not pay too much or you won't have much left to add others (he is usually the first person selected in drafts)
      • you are provided $260 to choose your entire team, but don't worry about running out of money, for the computer will make sure you end up with a full team, but perhaps mostly of marginal $1 players
    • snake:  where no player has a value, but the computer has everyone ranked (so that if you miss your draft, you will get the highest rated player when your turn comes) by random the first team will have selection #1, and if there are eight teams in that league, the last team will have selections #8 and #9, with the first team then selecting #16 until all 25 players are selected
  • The TYPE will be Free and the RESTRICTION will be None
  • There are two ways to score (for your first time, best to choose rotisserie):
  • Choose among 8, 10 or 12 team in your league
    • an 8-team league allows you to be more creative
    • when you have 12 teams, there will be few marginally good players left as free agents to make adjustments 
  • Pick a time.  You need to be immediately available.  If the time comes and there are not enough teams, there is a process by which teams will be added.  The odds are high that within minutes your draft will begin.  The first time you do this, you will invariably somehow screw up.  
  • However, as everything is free, you can abandon this team (to the ire of other team members--but you don't know them, so there are no repercussions), try again until you get it about right.
  • The draft will take around an hour.
  • Be careful not to select anyone who is injured.  There are numerous sources to check for injuries, such as this one from ESPN.
  • Go to your team page, where you will see your roster:
    • select a team name, etc.
    • you might find an injured player, so will need to replace him
    • this process is simple once you figure out how to do it
    • in rotisserie leagues, you will need to adjust your team every day before the first game of the day
    • in head to head leagues, while you keep your team for the whole week, beginning with the Monday game, ending on Sunday--you can adjust the team to accommodate days off and such, but you can't add another player from the free agent list until the next period of one week
  • if you win your league, you don't win anything, but gain a huge sense of pride
  • this game is addictive, and you will waste a lot of time watching baseball games to see how your players are doing

I drafted two ESPN roto and two ESPN head to head teams this year.  I also have two CDM teams, but only because I had a National Football League football playoff team this past season, where I paid around $40, came in sixth in the nation and won almost $275.  Is this gambling?  Is this legal?

Anyway, the CDM leagues are expensive and charge several hundred dollars to join, so I got two teams mostly from my winnings.  If you win the overall competition, you get $25,000 or $15,000.  I joined a throwback league of 20 teams, for those who are new to this, and I need to place at least fourth to get back my investment, with first place being worth $1500 or $1000.  

The rotisserie league offers the higher amount and the points league the lower winnings.  Not much actual involvement, as you set your starting team once/week and that's it.

You can, of course, still join by clicking on CDM Sports.  There are four cheaper types of competition:  Draft & Play, Budget Baseball, Super Challenge and King of the Mound (three teams for $30 or one for $15--pick two pitchers each weekend)

Here are the best fantasy baseball sites for this year:

REMEMBER, THE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL SEASON STARTS TOMORROW, THURSDAY, MARCH 29.

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Tropical Storm Jelawat has formed south of Japan, and seems headed in the general direction of Guam.  Wonder if I'll be threatened when I fly from Honolulu to Guam in a week?



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