Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Q&A: Little Big League Fantasy

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that fantasy baseball takes too much time. And while that's exactly why some people like it - the thrill of keeping up everyday with the constantly changing world of baseball - for some people it's a barrier to playing. That's one of the reasons I decided to try something new this year and start a fantasy baseball league that would require a minimal amount of time. Here's a Q&A explaining how this league, titled "Little Big League Fantasy," works.

Q: How many players are on a team?
A: Each team has a total of 8 roster spots: 5 starters and 3 bench warmers. In case of injuries, up to 3 disabled list (DL) slots may be used.

Q: Which positions are used?
A: Among the hitters, there are slots for 1 infielder, 1 outfielder, and 1 utility (any position). Among the pitchers, there is a slot for 1 starting pitcher and 1 relief pitcher.

Q: Which stats are kept?
A: The hitting stats are: runs (R), home runs (HR), runs batted in (RBI), stolen bases (SB), on-base percentage (OBP), and slugging percentage (SLG). The pitching stats are: wins (W), earned run average (ERA), strikeouts (K), and saves (S).

Q: Why are there more hitting stats than pitching stats?
A: The primary goal was to come up with a small game that was still fun. It just made sense that 3 hitters and 2 pitchers would be about as small as you could get and still have a fun game. So with 3 of the 5 starters being hitters, it makes sense that 6 of the 10 stats would be for hitting. The game is slightly weighted toward hitting, but pitching is still important.

Q: What's the scoring format?
A: It's head-to-head. Each week you compete against a different team. Your team's points and your opponent's points are added up at the end of the week. Whoever wins more categories get the "win" for the week. If both teams win the same number of categories, then the week ends in a tie.

Q: How often can you make roster changes?
A: Once a week. It's basically like fantasy football in that regard.

Q: So if one of my starters breaks his leg on Tuesday, I can't get him out of my lineup until the following Monday?
A: That's correct.

Q: That stinks.
A: Only if it happens to your team. If it happens to someone else's team, it's actually pretty funny. And besides, you're only supposed to be asking me questions.

On a serious note, I can see why some people would be frustrated with this rule of only changing rosters once a week. But this gets back to keeping the game small and simple. Rather than juggling a daily roster and constantly reacting to slumps and injuries, in this league you just set your roster once a week and that's it.

So that's the Little Big League Fantasy in a nutshell. There are still some openings in the league, so if you'd like to give it a try, feel free to email me. Being the first season, it will be a work in progress. But I think it will be fun. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

MLB Trivia: Opening Day Bombs

The start of the MLB season, Opening Day, is a special time that brings with it a little extra energy compared to the rest of the 162-game grind. Two players are tied for the most career home runs on Opening Day with eight. One of those players is Frank Robinson. The other player accomplished the feat much more recently. Can you name him?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cool Jacket

Last week while shopping at the local grocery store, I noticed a man by the dairy section walking rather slowly, his shoulders slumped. He was an older gentleman, and even though everyone around him was moving more fluidly, he had a presence about him. Just when I was about to avert my eyes and start minding my own business again, I noticed something else: His jacket.

It was a black leather jacket. On the back scripted in charcoal gray were the words "Negro Leagues," and spread evenly throughout the back were the colorful logos of many Negro League teams. It was, quite simply, the most interesting jacket I've seen in a long time.

He started to turn his cart around, so now our paths were naturally crossing. I just couldn't help myself and said, "Hey, that's a really cool jacket." He smiled widely and replied, "Yeah, thanks. A lot of people like this jacket."

I proceeded to tell him that I'm a big baseball fan and just really liked his jacket. He said a lot of people want to know where he got his jacket, but all he knows is that his daughter got it for him. I would have asked him if I could take a picture, but I had forgotten my cell phone at home. (In hindsight, it probably would have been weird to ask him for a picture, but hey, at the time I did want the picture. Also, despite my Internet search, I've been unable to find that particular jacket online.)

I've given it some thought, and if I had seen somebody with that same type of jacket with modern Major League teams, it would have been overkill. What made this jacket so special was that it was bringing back a part of baseball history that more people should know about - the Negro Leagues.

When I was a kid first collecting baseball cards, one of my small card sets had Negro League players.  One particular card I always remembered was of "Cool Papa Bell." It was always interesting to see the Negro League cards as a kid, but they also made me a little confused, maybe even sad. I knew a little bit about segregation, and the Negro League cards always reminded me of that unfair history.

It's important to pay respect to the MLB players who broke the color barrier; and while the first ones were black, they really broke that barrier for all races of people. When you look at the major leagues today, with players from all over the globe, baseball really is the most diverse of the major American sports. And really, when I'm watching a baseball game, I'm not looking at a player's color. I'm looking at a player's performance. From an entertainment standpoint, I want to see the best players. Period.

I think another reason I liked that man's jacket so much was the timing. With this year's harsh Chicago winter giving way to spring's warmer weather, seeing his Negro Leagues jacket was yet another sign that baseball is back. Finally.

Monday, March 21, 2011

MLB Trivia: The Notorious G.I.D.P.

It's one of the most frustrating plays in baseball. A batter hits a ground ball that ends up turning into two outs, a.k.a. the ground into double play (GIDP). Fast guys tends to hit into fewer GIDPs, mainly because the slow guys give the defense more time to throw for the second out. In 1984, Jim Rice set the single season record for most GIDPs with 36. And Cal Ripken Jr. holds the all-time career record for most GIDPs with 350. Can you name who has the most career GIDPs among active MLB players entering 2011?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

MLB Trivia: Touching base

In a baseball game, if a player hits a home run and a double, he has six total bases (four for the homer and two for the double). Hank Aaron holds the MLB record for most total bases in a career with 6,856. Can you name the three active players entering the 2011 season with the most career total bases?

Monday, March 7, 2011

MLB Trivia: No Easy Out Feat

Pete Rose is the MLB's all-time hit king with 4,256 hits. But he's also the MLB's all-time out king, ranking #1 with 10,328 outs. Can you name the player who has made the second most outs in MLB history? (Hint: Like Rose, this player is known for all-time greatness and longevity. And no, the answer is not Ty Cobb.)