Sunday, January 01, 2006
Another Damn Book On The Pile Of Unreads
Fantasyland is Sam Walker’s chronicle of his first rotisserie baseball experience. However, this is not your everyday fantasy baseball rookie tale. Walker is a sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal who talked his way into joining “Tout Wars” (which is a prominent rotisserie “experts” league) for their 2004 season. Additionally, Sam was armed with a substantial budget – he spent nearly $20,000 traveling and preparing for the league’s player auction – and he decided to employ both a Sabermetrician, Sig Mejdal, and someone who was more focused on the qualitative-side of scouting, Ferdinando (Nando) Di Fino, to assist him through his rotisserie expedition. As such, the debate of Sabermetrics versus traditional scouting (and the balancing of the two schools) is a prevailing thread throughout the book – and in many ways Fantasyland is akin to a good buddy-movie in the way that these three characters (Sam, Sig and Nando) play off each other.Great... just what I need, another baseball book to clutter my nightstand, unread. I still haven't finished Ball Four, or Jon's book, or (in sequence) the Ross Newhan history of the Angels, Steve Bischeff's exploitation-o-rama on the 2002 squad, &c., &c. &c.
But, there’s more to Fantasyland beyond Walker’s personal fantasy baseball experience.
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).
Hope everyone had a happy New Year's. Kinda weird that the Rose parade is tomorrow, huh? Get with the program, guys: the blue laws are dead, save for those sorry remnants of the nation where Biblical say-so outranks radiocarbon dating.
I, too, never finished Newhan's book on the Angels. It just did not grab me the way I was so sure it would. Or maybe it was the cover, showing that dreadful Disneyheim Angels logo.
Besides, I don't actually think that blue laws have anything to do with the Rose Parade being on a Monday (it may have at one time, but now it is a tradition). While you are complaining about blue laws (which I am not actually particularly for), you might as well complain that New Year's and Christmas were observed the day after this year just so that people could get the day off. Or that normal businesses aren't open on the weekend.
The reason the parade and game (in most years) is not on Sundays because of TV. Sunday is belongs to a religion that is paramount in American: the NFL.
All the other bowl games adopted the Rose Bowl's practice despite their location: Dallas, New Orleans, Miami.
Actually, I read it 7-10 years ago and enjoyed it, but it was also one of the few things I had to read on a long flight. Not sure it would have held my interest so well otherwise. Then again, I took the Newhan book on a long flight once, and still could not get into it.