The continuing chronicle of Wesley's quest to be published; plus comments on popular culture, family life, and whatever else falls out of his head.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Review: Fantasyland


Ever since I got married, I've been infected by the same baseball bug that has gotten to my wife's entire family. There were things that I had missed entirely, like the emergance of fantasy (or 'rotisserie') baseball. Some estimates say that there are hundreds of thousands who play in fantasy leagues each season, although others say that many of those leagues are played by the same people.

Fantasy baseball confuses and frustrates me. What's the point of rooting for the home team if you really need to have the opposing pitcher win the game for your fantasy team?

Sam Walker, a sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal (well, that's your first problem right there) takes a year off from his job with the intent of beating Tout Wars, one of the most exclusive and elite fantasy leagues in the United States. Open spots are taken by invitation only, and the majority of its players are professional fantasy players, in that they provide the stats and isue the dictums that the rest of the fantasy players use to choose their teams.

Even though the winner of the league gets nothing but bragging rights, Walker hires a team to help him in the draft, scouts the pre-season himself, and spends thousands of dollars traveling from game to game to interview players and managers to prove that any rank amateur with a press pass can beat the experts.

Does he do it? Well, of course I'm not going to tell you that. But I will say that Walker injected a fair amount suspense into what is essentially a memoir. But there are also belly laughs in every chapter as his assistants from opposite sides of scouting theory square off against each other, and he profiles the eccentric members of the Tout Wars.

Good book. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Recommend it for anyone with a passing interest in baseball. Mandatory reading for anyone involved in fantasy leagues.

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