Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sam Walker: Fantasyland

I love baseball. I know that's obvious. When I was little, my dad was in a "rotisserie" league. I don't think I ever knew why it was called a "rotisserie" league- maybe I thought they made that up, since everyone else played "Fantasy" baseball, or maybe I thought they ate a lot of rotisserie chicken. I don't know, but I do know that I played a lot of rotisserie baseball with dad. I collected baseball cards at the time, so I knew a lot of the stats in my pre-teen brain, although I didn't always know what they meant, and I rarely knew more advanced (or nerdy) stats like WHIP or OPS- just thinks like strikeouts, saves, HRs, etc- things actually printed on TOPS or Upper Deck cards. (Sidenote- weren't Upper Deck cards cool? When they came out it was like baseball cards had just soared to a new level.) Anyway, Dad and his good friend Harvey were in this league of dorky baseball dudes (I don't remember any other women) and every year for a few years Dad had a team- LODI- which stood for "Long Distance" because he was always travelling, and Harvey was the "Commissioner" of the league, who we called, and still call, the Commish, and together, we'd have this father/daughter bonding experience of planning our draft in the off season, and I would go with him to draft our team. I even got to help him pick our players. Pretty nifty for a baseball dork. This was before the internet (yes, I remember that time) and we would go to get the newspaper and read the boxscores every morning to see how LODI was doing. So much fun!

Well, Sam Walker has written the book about my childhood. Or at least, why Rotisserie leagues are what they are, where they came from, why they're controversial, and who the big-wigs are in fantasy baseball. And my dad's league didn't make up the name, and they didn't eat a lot of chicken. (My family ate a lot of rotisserie chicken, but we don't get the credit here.) This is a pretty awesome book, if you care about stats, or if you like to dorkout about balls hit hard vs contact, etc. Sabermetrics vs fantasy vs scouting, etc. If this is greek, or boring, this book will not interest you. If you still want to trade baseball cards, and not just on their value as cards themselves, but on the value of the player, to help complete your little roster, then this book is awesome. It's a nice supplement to "Moneyball," which describes Billy Beane's now not-so-new method of building a successful low-budget team, using mathematics. Walker jumped into the league for the experts in fantasy ball, and expected to do well. "Fantasyland" is his story, and the chronicles of his humbling. Go Streetwalkers!