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Fantasyland: A Season on Baseball's Lunatic Fringe
     

Fantasyland: A Season on Baseball's Lunatic Fringe

by Sam Walker
 

A Wall Street Journal writer spends a season in a fantasy baseball league to explore the inner workings and contagious passions of one of the country's most popular pursuits

Every spring, millions of Americans prepare to take part in one of the oddest, most obsessive and engrossing rituals in the sports pantheon: rotisserie baseball, a fantasy

Overview

A Wall Street Journal writer spends a season in a fantasy baseball league to explore the inner workings and contagious passions of one of the country's most popular pursuits

Every spring, millions of Americans prepare to take part in one of the oddest, most obsessive and engrossing rituals in the sports pantheon: rotisserie baseball, a fantasy game where armchair fans match wits by building their own teams. Starting with a player "draft" before the Major League season, contenders spend six months scouring the box scores to see if their handpicked players can outperform the opposition. It's a pastime that threatens to overtake traditional baseball in the passions it generates.

In 2004, Sam Walker, a sports columnist for The Wall Street Journal, decided to explore this phenomenon by talking his way into Tout Wars, a private league generally reserved for the nation's top experts. Using his baseball contacts and access to locker rooms, Walker spent a year trying to dredge up information that might give him a competitive edge over his eccentric cast of competitors. But in his quest for victory he also endeavored to settle the great question that divides modern baseball thinkers: Can excellence be predicted by statistics alone or is the human element more important?

Together with his crack research team, Sig (a statistician) and Nando (a baseball savant), Walker finds himself possessed by the game and determined to win at any expense, spending weeks on the road interacting with his real Major League players and trying to "manage" them. We follow his descent into sleeplessness, panic, triumph (temporarily), treachery, and even consultations with an astrologer as he keeps his ever-blearier eyes on his elusive goal. The result is one of the most entertaining sports books in years and a matchless look into the heart and soul of our national pastime.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers 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. (On sale Feb. 20) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal walks right into the world of rotisserie baseball, in which fans use current statistics to create their own fantasy teams. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670034284
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/02/2006
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.52(h) x 1.19(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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