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Pick fantasy baseball

Chris Massad | Wednesday, March 21, 2007

As I go to outline what I’m going to write for this column on a piece of scrap paper, I see last year’s statistics for pitchers Jeremy Sowers and Doug Davis on the other side. It makes me wonder, am I obsessed with fantasy baseball?

For me, fantasy baseball is a good way to stay in touch with old friends and win respect from new ones. I remember my roommate always on the phone consulting with his dad or brother about his family’s league during our first days on campus.

A number of Web sites, like Yahoo, offer free fantasy sport leagues. For all you amateurs, fantasy sports include football, baseball, basketball and hockey. In most fantasy leagues, the game play is either “head-to-head,” with pairs of managers competing in various statistical categories, or “rotisserie,” where all the managers compete for rankings in the various statistical categories. At the start of the season there is a draft, and throughout the season there are trades, free agency pickups, and chatting on message boards.

Coming from Connecticut, the boundary line between Red Sox nation and Yankee country runs right through my home state. This gave rise to heated online debates last year, particularly over the destination of Roger Clemens. With one of the other managers destined for the University of Michigan next year, I’m sure collegiate football will be thrown into the mix. We’re already debating this weekend’s hockey tournament.

The popularity of fantasy sports is apparent. Currently ESPN is advertising their free online fantasy baseball game with the slogan “It’s free. And it rocks.”

In the past, fantasy football has been marketed with reigning NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson. Another commercial featured a group of guys around the TV upset by a play while one ambivalent person exclaimed, “That guy’s on my fantasy team!”

At times in past seasons, what’s best for my fantasy team has been at odds with what’s best for my favorite baseball club. This conflict of desires sometimes makes baseball less enjoyable for me … but I came up with a reasonable solution. So far this year, I have no fewer than eight fantasy teams divided amongst Yahoo, ESPN and MLB.com. Between all those teams, I probably have most of the top 150 fantasy players on some team or another.

Am I obsessed with fantasy baseball? Well, if you are positioned in a baseball organization as a player or an executive in five, 10, 15 years or so, I would love it if you contacted me with any inside information. My message for you is this – cast aside your now defunct March Madness brackets (courtesy of Winthrop) and redeem yourself in a fantasy baseball league today.