Good morning, baseball fans! Thanksgiving time has rolled around for another year and, as we take this opportunity to gorge ourselves until we struggle to breathe, we also stop to acknowledge all of the things we are thankful for. In the world of the baseball, there is a lot for us fanatics to be happy about this Thanksgiving.
Baseball is more popular now than it's ever been, and the advent of MLBAM and MLBTV have made the game easily accessible to fans everywhere. Despite some ludicrous additions to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, there is labor peace in the game now and for the foreseeable future, something which, a decade ago, would have been unheard of. With the NFL going through its own labor strife and the NBA in the process of stabbing itself in the face, Major League Baseball is amazingly controversy-free. There are also a multitude of young, marketable stars that have helped make the game more exciting with each passing year, and the league is (finally) getting better at promoting its product. It's a great time to be a baseball fan, and all of my fellow devotees of America's Pastime should be thankful.
Of course, it's also great to be a fantasy baseball fan. Here are the top five things fantasy baseball fans should be thankful for this year.
1. Keeper Leagues
One-and-done leagues alone are very involved and potentially damaging to a person's social life. Keeper leagues, or Dynasty leagues, take the obsessiveness and insanity to all new heights, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The idea of having your own franchise to build from the ground up is kind of the ultimate armchair GM wet dream. The whole dynamic of trading changes as younger players become more valuable and anybody above the age of 30 becomes trade poison. Managers also become incredibly possessive of their own pet players, even if they suck. It can be exhilarating and maddening all at the same time, and bad trades are magnified a thousand-fold since there are more long-term ramifications in every deal. One awful trade can set your team back a couple of years.
I'll never forget the time I dragged a friend of mine into a keeper league that I was in, and then a month later he stormed up to me, legitimately pissed, because the league had taken over his life. That's what it does to you. It's all a lot of fun, and once I joined a keeper league for the first time, I never looked back.
2. Wealth of Information
If you're a fantasy baseball manager these days, there's no excuse for ignorance. With websites like Rotoworld.com providing up-to-the-minute updates on everything rotisserie, you should have an ear to the track of the baseball transaction world at all times. Thanks to the seemingly endless stream of analysis and news coming from the web, any manager should be immediately informed about a major, season-changing injury or trade. If something happens that will have a major impact on your team's season, you'll have access to that information immediately.
Some team's closer went down for the season? You'll know within minutes which reliever is in line to pick up saves in the injured pitcher's stead. A hot prospect is called up from the minors to take over as a starter? Get your butt to the waiver wire! Heck, you can even have this information sent to your phone, so you can be standing in line at Starbucks and get news that your best pitcher tore his rotator cuff. Just don't spill hot coffee on yourself as you frantically race to nab his Quad-A replacement.
3. The Pigeons
Every league has at least one. You know him. He's the guy who to this day is lost on the concept of "buy low, sell high" and who has never had the term small sample size explained to him. His idea of advanced statistical analysis involves the use of an abacus and a sundial. He's the guy who freaks out when Albert Pujols has one poor month, and he's the guy willing to trade half his team to get Chris Shelton after he hits ten home runs in April. He's the guy who, in a fit of frustration, announces that he's going to "blow his team up" and start a fire sale, which immediately results in the rest of the league leaping upon all of his good players like rabid jackals. We've all reaped the benefits of his naivete. Blessed are the pigeons, for they shall inherit the Earth. Or simply trade me a star for a bunch of garbage and help me win a fantasy championship. You know, whatever.
4. MLB Network and MLBTV
When I first got MLB Network, it was like a religious awakening. It provided around the clock coverage of every single damn game that was going on during the day. The MLB Network studio show zipped from one game to the next and picked up the action whenever something big was about to happen in the baseball world. As if the endless stream of info weren't enough, this event cemented the station's status as a must-watch. My TV was turned to this stupid channel pretty much 90 percent of the time I was home.
MLBTV is equally amazing. It's cheap, and it enables you to watch pretty much any game in real time, all throughout the season. These two outlets are a gold mine for fantasy managers who want to catch every at bat by one of their players or every pitch when one of their starting pitchers is going. Never before have we had such unlimited access to baseball at seemingly all times.
5. Good Health of the Game
As I said before, with labor peace and the spread of MLBAM, baseball is in the best shape of its life, and by extension so is fantasy baseball. These days, if you want to get a league started or join a league, there are myriad options for you. There are single season leagues, keeper leagues, free leagues, half-season leagues, AL- or NL-only leagues. There are even reverse leagues out there, where you try to assemble the crappiest team possible. Now that's a contrarian idea I can set my watch to!
There is no end to the many different ways you can play. Thanks to the general popularity of baseball, fantasy baseball is booming and it shows no sign of stopping.
--To all readers, and all fans of Fake Teams... have a Happy Thanksgiving!