Tag: Fantasy Baseball

Introducing My App for CBSSports.com

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So this baseball season the fine folks over at CBSSports.com have released their app development platform, or as they call it “CBSSports.com Development Center” to the masses this year. I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to these kinds of things as I enjoy figuring out how technological things work. I’ve got some half-baked iPhone apps around here somewhere; as well as pile of barely used API keys for just about every service you can think of. Perhaps I should combine them all and make: a Google map with pins of your Fantasy baseball players and pictures of that day’s weather forecast that checks you in to foursquare while tweeting about it. I’m sure everyone will be shelling out the big bucks for that app. Right?

Techno Crap
If all my APIs had a physical form, this would be what my office looked like

Actually, the reason I’m posting this is that I’ve actually completed the process of creating a little app for fantasy baseball. Introducing the Nerds on Sports Nickname App for CBSSports.com. Yup, I made an app that will display players nicknames.  Some of the names are real, many are completely made up. For example the most recently added nickname is for Mark “Mayonnaise” Buehrle: That’s not a name that anyone (other than myself so far) is calling him, but I think it works well for a couple of reasons:

1) It makes fun of him for not being able to make a sandwich without injuring himself.

2) As a pitcher, he can be told to “put some Mayonnaise on it” instead of the usual slang of mustard.

See what interesting name/news tidbits you can learn from just a silly name? This is why I decided to create the app. Of course the list of players in the CBS Sports database is over 4500 players long, so if I really want to have tons of names, I need everyone’s help. That is why I created a suggestion box for new names. Please give me some new names — If you do, you’ll get to see your name in the app! Or perhaps, go spend the $1 to buy the app (You can sign up for a free league and buy just the app if you want to donate a (portion of a) dollar to me, if you do, please give me a good review :smile:).

Commissioner’s Corner: Competitive Balance

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In a recent decision, the NFL levied fines (by lowering their salary cap and distributing the difference to all other teams)  against the Redskins and Cowboys because they set up contracts to take advantage of the no-cap season. Here is what the NFL said:

The Management Council Executive Committee determined that the contract practices of a small number of clubs during the 2010 league year created an unacceptable risk to future competitive balance, particularly in light of the relatively modest salary cap growth projected for the new agreement’s early years. To remedy these effects and preserve competitive balance throughout the league, the parties to the CBA agreed to adjustments to team salary for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. These agreed-upon adjustments were structured in a manner that will not affect the salary cap or player spending on a league-wide basis.

Basically, what happened was that teams (most of them, just these 2 more than others) front loaded player contracts — Payed a lot of money in the uncapped year in exchange for paying less in the capped years. There are a couple of issues here that I’d like to point out:

1) This happened in 2010 and was obvious to anyone who even glanced at the numbers. So much so that, supposedly, the NFL even warned these teams (verbally) that they shouldn’t be doing this. This penalty is only happening now.

2) Does this really create a big enough competitive imbalance in the league that it needs to be corrected.

Roger Goodell on a pile of money
Look at the communist Roger Goodell redistributing the wealth

For the first point, there was a whole CBA negotiation that happened last year (remember the lockout?) and the cap was set up, but there was no talk about the redistribution against the Cowboys/Redskins. Didn’t want to bring it up that some teams were willing and able to spend money and the others were probably colluding to keep salaries down. And now in 2012 when the calculation for the cap is being done based on last years revenue, it looked like it was going to go down. Well how do you explain that to players… you can’t. So with a quick “fix,” the “problem” is “solved.”

As to the second point, let’s look at the teams numbers for 2009, 2010, and 2011. That’s what’s good about the delay/inaction by the NFL on this issue. In our baseline year of 2009, the Cowboys were pretty good, making the playoffs but losing in the NFC championship game. On the other hand the Redskins went 4-12. In 2010 even while spending millions more than other teams, both teams went 6-10 and were at the bottom of the division. Last year the Cowboys were slightly improved at 8-8, but the Redskins were slightly worse at 5-11.

So compared to our baseline, the Cowboys had, on average, 4 less wins, and the Redskins had 1.5 more wins. Or, when combined, 2 and a 1/2 less wins. Or just looking 2009 and 2011 since front loading contracts should give more advantage in a capped year, the are a combined 2 less wins. So much imbalance!

But the tough question is to whether this would actually create a real imbalance in future years, and that would be tough to compare. This future imbalance is what dynasty/keeper fantasy commissioners (and the real NFL commissioner) have to deal with all the time with trades that involve future draft picks and young players. If you really were going for a perfect balance, a baseball trade involving a minor league player or any deadline trade involving future draft picks would never be allowed. Of course, trades like this actually happen and are justified by saying that the opportunity was there for all teams. Which brings me back to the uncapped year — an opportunity that was available to all teams. This ruling stinks of collusion and half-assed player pacification.

I think Deadspin sums it up best:

[T]he NFL claims that “the parties to the CBA” agreed on this punishment. Not the CBA itself, mind you, because there’s nothing in there. But the NFLPA signed off on the penalties, not because they agreed with them, but because they had no other choice. The only other option the NFL presented the Players Association was for the salary cap to drop across the league, meaning less money for the players. This was a devil’s bargain: sign off on this capricious and probably illegal sanction of two teams, or we’ll punish all of you. The NFLPA was straight blackmailed, and they did the only conscionable thing they could: they caved, and threw two of the biggest-spending owners under the bus.

In the Book of Genesis, God inexplicably created the tree of knowledge, then told humans not to touch it. “Because I said so,” I believe was the rationale. He made the fruit tempting, and gave humans the faculties to obtain and enjoy it, and got pissed when they did. It took a couple thousand years for people say, whoa, that was pretty cruel and fucked up, God. Similarly, the NFL created an uncapped year, and fostered an atmosphere that gave Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones the motive, the means, and the opportunity to partake of its blessings. The NFL doesn’t have religion’s PR, so thankfully we don’t need iconoclasts, just normal, rational people to point out just how wrong this is. But football is a sort of religion, with a similar antitrust exemption, so fair doesn’t even come into play.

[Business Day One] A Week Into Fantasy Baseball And…


… I’ve already had to use my cell phone to make a last minute roster change.

… I’ve already had a baseball-related bad dream.

… I’ve already lamented (only half-jokingly) that my season is over.

… I’ve already begun to think about this year’s keepers.

… I’ve already said out loud “thank god baseball’s back.”

[Business Day One] The Monster


I spent 4 hours at my computer on Saturday, drafting a fantasy baseball team.  The Monster League, populated by NoS posters Willis and RJ and frequent commenter Angry Ed, is a beautiful mix of friendly and competitive.  During our Winter Meetings (a once-yearly gathering for pizza and rules adjustments) and our Live Online Draft, we throw playful jabs between orders of business, mocking our own fantasy management inability as often as we make fun of the skills of others.  It’s not a bad situation; in fact, it’s been the best league I’ve ever been in.

Sixteen teams, twenty-five rounds, twenty-five roster spots (including minor leaguers).  Roto league with five offensive and five pitching stats.  Thousands and thousands of players to choose from.  The Monster League is big compared to other fantasy baseball leagues, but not that much bigger.  All fantasy baseball is that unwieldy.  Compared to fantasy football, basketball or golf, putting together a baseball team is a bear.  Too many combinations of players, too many positions, too many scenarios in which you are suddenly without a viable starting catcher.  It’s a rough game, and it’s a complicated one, and therein lies the joy of it.

Fantasy baseball drafts are big enough that you can’t plan for it all.  You have to draft based on instinct and knowledge.  You get better with experience – eventually you begin to understand the opportunity cost of waiting to draft certain positions in favor of others – but in the end it is complex enough that it really does tend to separate out those that manage well from those than don’t.  In fantasy sports, luck becomes less important as the roster size goes up.  You may hit the jackpot in fantasy hockey and have two hot hands carry you into the playoffs.  But it takes a thoroughly deep team to survive a roto baseball league.  And teams like that come together when you have encyclopedic knowledge and a good sense of value.

The season, the real season, is days away.  Right now, all the fantasy baseball owners are undefeated.  Enjoy it while you can, because we’ll soon discover how good we are at all of this.

Zombie editor RJ sez…

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  • …Nope, still don’t give a shit about basketball – professional, college or otherwise.
  • …I wish I could get more into the WBC, but the fact that The Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic twice has me taking it less, not more, seriously.
  • …I now have a Jason Varitek shirt and (courtesy one of my friends, promise) shrine, with votive candle.  I am drifting in between the territory of “amusingly obsessed” and “creepily monomaniacal.”
  • …I need to get my spreadsheets ready for fantasy baseball.  Even though they don’t really work.
  • …I watch this commercial and think things like “Whose house is this? And what are they eating?”

Commissioner’s Corner: Keeper Leagues and Parity

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Which one do you keep?
Which one do you keep?

There are 2 basic kinds of fantasy leagues when it comes to how players are chosen from year to year: keeper and re-draft.  (An auction where all players are put back in the pool is just a re-draft where the draft style is auction.) And when it comes to keeper leagues there are very many ways to set them up.

It could be as simple as keeping just one player from the previous season – A franchise player. Or it could be as complex as keeping the same roster year to year – a dynasty league. Or anything in between. Whatever way your league chooses to run things, there should always be an eye towards parity. 

Why is parity so important in fantasy leagues? Because the goal of any fantasy team should be to win the league this year. Not next year. Did you join your fantasy league mainly because you enjoy doing maths and managing and spending money on nothing? I doubt it. You probably joined for the same reasons everyone else is playing: your friends and the love of the sport. You don’t see me playing a fantasy fishing season (even though I get the damn emails). I’m not playing because I don’t enjoy playing fantasy sports (I clearly do, I’m writing a blog about it), but because I don’t particularly enjoy fishing — especially from a watching others do the fishing perspective.

I’m also not saying that a team that makes good decisions over the season shouldn’t get rewarded with good keepers. It should never get to the point where some teams don’t have a real chance of winning the league solely because of the keeper rules.

With that in mind, lets look at some of the methods of setting up and retaining parity in a keeper league. Read More

Commissioner’s Corner: Surviving The Off-Season

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Don't let your league feel like this

Don't let your league feel like this

This time of year is tough for the two biggest fantasy sports: Football and Baseball. It’s the off-season. There are no more lineup deadlines to meet and no opposing team to trash talk. Fantasy players are left wondering what to do with themselves. Well, The Commissioner is here to help with a few thought and experiences on what to do with the time.

Research – It’s never too early to start your research. Everyone does better with more knowledge under their belts. Learn about all the upcoming rookies, and who has the position that’s blocking them from being full time. Study the other people in your league. Look at the history and see what players they like – even the slightest upper hand in a trade is valuable. Pay attention to trades and free agency moves. Are they moving to a pitcher’s park or did they go from have a good offensive line to the Detroit Lions?

Keep The League Together – Maybe you all play fantasy football or basketball in the baseball off-season (or vice versa) to keep the rivalries strong. Perhaps it’s just a couple pools to keep people chatting about the league. I have one friend who runs a fantasy football playoffs league. Rules are you get one player or the coach or defense from each of the 8 playoff teams to fill the roster. Points are only given to players who play each week, so having a RB for the Super Bowl winner is nice. No limit to the number of people playing because there is no draft. Now even after the season is done, there are still players to root for. Maybe it’s only an extra month, but it’s something.

Winter Meetings – This is something my fantasy baseball league is doing for the second year now. We all get together at a restaurant/bar have some food and drink and discuss the future of our teams and the league. This is very nice for us since it is a keeper league and it allows people to possibly make some trades. I’ve heard of leagues getting together to go to games and then most people barely paying attention to the game because they’re too busy wheelin’ and dealin’ for trades.

Those are just some of the things I’ve experienced, please leave me some comments if you have seen or done other things or have ideas for what the league can do. All in all, I think the best leagues are the ones where everyone is continually interested. Especially if that means the interest carries throughout the off-season

Commissioner’s Corner: The Constitution

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We The People ConstitutionHello fellow fantasy commissioners. Welcome to our corner. Here we shall discuss the trials, tribulations, tribbles, and elations of the job of fantasy commissioner.

Today’s topic is the league constitution.

Every league should have one. I mean it! There needs to be a place for everyone to go and review the rules and stop any disputes before they happen or blow up into friendship destorying disasters. As a commissioner, it will mean less work for you and resolving the disputes are never fun. (People start thinking you take sides and are unfair, turning a fun activity into something much less enjoyable.) Don’t assume that because everyone in your league is friends that you can work it all out, this may be true, but if it’s not then you are up shit’s creek and have no paddle.

Are you still thinking that you don’t need one or that you don’t think you can write one? It doesn’t have to be a spectacular document that gets displayed for ages in the National Archives. It doesn’t have to cover everything. It never will anyway – even if you’ve had a league for 20 years, there’s still something that may come up. This is where you, as commissioner, make the tough decisions, and then add the rule to the constitution. In this way, your constitution is always changing and getting better.

The first step to building a constitution is to brainstorm and write down what you can think of. Go through the day to day and add that to what happens. Read More