Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fantasyland: A Season on Baseball's Lunatic Fringe

posted by Jon Williams
fantasyland

Most of the books you'll read about on this site will be more of the annual and reference guide types. Fantasyland is a book I'm really looking forward to buying. Rather than write about how good I think it is before actually reading it, I'm going to show you some clips of the reviews I've found and the places you'll find them.

Netshrine.com:

As a sportswriter, Sam Walker has the access that most fantasy team owners can only dream about – in that he has a direct connection to players, scouts, coaches and general managers. As such, in the book, there are many remarkable stories involving Walker’s roto-related exchanges with current major league baseball participants such as Jacque Jones, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jose Guillen, David Oritz, Bill Mueller, Brad Radke, Miguel Batista, Mark Shapiro, Jim Beattie, Theo Epstein, Dave Littlefield, Billy Beane, Kenny Williams, Lou Piniella, Alan Trammel, and Mike Scioscia – just to name a few (from a list of numerous personalities).

Imagine talking then Devil Rays Manager Lou Piniella into using B.J. Upton as a Designated Hitter because he’s on your rotisserie team and you need the At Bats. Walker did it. Imagine e-mailing then Orioles G.M. Jim Beattie to see if Luis Matos was about to lose his full-time job – and getting a fast and honest answer. Walker did that as well. Imagine asking Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz if he would trade himself in exchange for Texas Rangers speedster Alfonso Soriano (because you need steals in the standings) and then having a debate with him over it. Again, Walker did this. Fantasyland is full of entertaining and sometimes startling dealings such as these mentioned here.

Publisher's Weekly:
When Walker, a senior writer for the Wall Street Journal, enters his first fantasy baseball tournament, he aims high: Tout Wars, a competition for guys who make a career out of analyzing stats to find the best Major League hitters and pitchers. He figures that because he can get to the ballparks in his journalistic capacity and talk to the players and coaches, he'll be in a better position to judge the intangibles and pull one over the pure numbers crunchers. But even with the help of a young research assistant and a NASA scientist, things quickly head south. This hilarious diary of the 2004 season includes several encounters with the players Walker has picked; from Jacque Jones's struggle to refute predictions of mediocrity to David Ortiz's razzing Walker for trading him away. Along the way there are mini-profiles of the Tout Wars competition, as well as explorations of the origins of fantasy baseball (predating even the famed Rotisserie League) and the shaky relationship between dedicated statistical analysts and Major League executives. Readers might even pick up a few tips on how to draft their teams this spring, but the real fun is in watching Walker's well-laid plans unravel.

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