Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Cory Schwartz Interview

posted by Jon Williams
Cory Schwartz of MLB.com and host of the Fantasy 411 was kind enough to grant me a brief interview. Cory is member of The Tout Wars Expert League and one of the most popular experts in the Fantasy Sports industry. You can download his show via iTunes.

You have had quite the run of jobs that a lot of us sports fans would kill for. You worked for the New York Yankees in their Public Relations Department. You worked for the National Basketball Association as the Coordinator of Interactive Programming. Now you are the director of Statistics for MLBAM. Is this finally your dream job?

[Schwartz, Cory] As a kid I always thought it would be a great job to put together the stats and write the notes on the backs of baseball cards, so I guess I got pretty close. There’s no such thing as a perfect job, but I’m fortunate to have a job doing something enjoy and I like to think it’s a good fit for my skills as well.

I have read that you began playing Fantasy Baseball in the late 1980’s. What was your introduction to Fantasy Sports?

[Schwartz, Cory] My uncle, who is a real estate attorney in Manhattan, introduced me to fantasy baseball in the early 80’s when he asked me to review one of his teams. That put the concept into my mind and I got into my first league through one of my best friends from high school, competing against his friends from college. I did pretty poorly in those leagues in the early years and had a lot to learn, and in some ways I still do!

The Fantasy 411 Show has become extremely popular. How did the show come to be? What do you think makes it a favorite for so many people?

[Schwartz, Cory] Fantasy legends Lenny Melnick and Irwin Zwilling were the original hosts of the Fantasy 411 and I was asked to fill in a few times as a guest host. Eventually I became a regular presence on the show and gradually it evolved into a mix of people including myself, Mike Siano, Pat DePirro and Gregg Klayman, with Mike and me eventually becoming the main guys on the show. We try to make the show informative and entertaining, the type of conversation and content you would have if you were hanging around talking baseball with two of your friends. We don’t give 100% perfect advice every single time but we always explain our reasoning so hopefully people learn more about baseball from each show, regardless of how their teams are doing.

Now that the MLB Network is a reality, do you see serious Fantasy Baseball Oriented shows for the serious fan in our future? I ask because just about every effort I have seen aims at the fantasy novice. I almost died laughing this spring, when Harold Reynolds asked how a team could have two second basemen.

[Schwartz, Cory] When we were planning the season preview show we wanted to prove that the concept would work and that people would tune in for a fantasy baseball show, so that meant targeting it to a more mainstream player – you have to walk before you run! The response from the show was very positive so we hope that in time the network will find time for more fantasy-oriented programming, and I believe they will. But remember that this is their first season and they are producing live games and a live eight-hour show every night, so let’s give them some time. I’m confident more fantasy programming will appear on the network in time.

In an interview, you did last year for the old Fantasy Baseball Generals site you said that you played primarily in straight “pick ‘em” drafts. Is that by choice? What is your preferred type of fantasy league?

[Schwartz, Cory] I’ve played in all sorts of leagues but ultimately I prefer 12-to-15 team mixed league drafts, simply because those leagues best fit my strategy and how I like to build and manage a team. But I’ve done auctions, weekly leagues, keepers vs. single-season only, and enjoy them all… I like to compete regardless of the format.

What is your general approach in fantasy leagues? Do you have a strategy that you stick to in every league?

[Schwartz, Cory] My basic strategy is always to discount starting pitching, emphasize bullpen depth, and position/category scarcity on offense. However, you have to tailor the format to the league to a certain extent… NFBC, for example, is a 15-team weekly league with a 7-man bench, so it’s impossible to compete without a reasonable amount of starting pitching depth.

It turns out that Lenny Melnick (who beat you out as the Internet’s Favorite Fantasy Baseball Expert) has no juice and cannot get me into Tout Wars. Can you? And more importantly, when are you going to win Tout Wars?

[Schwartz, Cory] I finished in third in NL Tout Wars in my first season but I haven’t come close since… I haven’t done a good job following my auction plan so I tend to come out with very imbalanced, flawed teams. However, to be fair to myself, Tout Wars features some of the genuine experts in the industry so I’m not ashamed to get my butt kicked by the likes of Lenny Melnick, Jason Grey, Lawr Michaels, Ron Shandler, Mike Lombardo, Jason Collette… the list goes on. If I keep stinking it up though they might be looking for some new talent and you might get a shot!

Anne Hathaway over Megan Fox? Really?

[Schwartz, Cory] I stand by that. Anne Hathaway made the Princess Diaries watchable. That says it all.

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3 Comments:

Blogger sports said...

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 12:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger FB365 said...

Nice interview Jon. The Fantasy 411 radio show with Schwartz and Siano is what took my fantasy baseball playing from hobby to obsession. It’s the sole reason why I dedicate so much time to my blog everyday. Hopefully they can get MLB Network to realize that the 411 show would be a great addition to the daily programming.

Charlie Saponara
fantasybaseball365.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 3:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jon Williams said...

Thanks FB, I agree that the 411 show would be a great place for them to start with regular fantasy baseball programming. It has a ready fan base and competent talent already on board. I think it would be a humongous hit.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 3:58:00 PM EDT  

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