Sunday, March 25, 2007

Book Review: Fantasyland

So, you would think this book is about the strip club over by the airport, but it is actually about fantasy baseball. Granted, not the most exciting topic to a good number of people. The book is actually pretty entertaining.

Sam Walker is a sports writer for the Wall Street Journal who decides to join the most competitive Rotisserie league in the nation without having played before. The book chronicles his season (the 2004 baseball season). It also goes in depth into the history of fantasy baseball and the numerous colorful characters who populate the landscape.

Since Sam is a sports journalist he can go scout the players he wants to pick up and also talk to them when they are slumping or when he is thinking about trading them. This really cracked me up, especially his encounters with David Ortiz (who he stupidly trades for Soriano) and him cracking a beer with Bill Mueller after a game. For those of us who hate the usual on camera canned answers that players give, it's nice to see they have some sort of personality.

The most interesting part of the book is the obvious tension between the rotisserie guided statistics and the old baseball scouting process. As Collin mentioned on here before there is a battle in baseball over the value of the intricate baseball stats that people such as Bill James tout as being able to forecast a player's worth without seeing them play and the old scouting process that has a more hands on approach. The book does a pretty good job of showing how slowly but surely the stat nerds are gaining a foothold in the baseball world (Bill James works for the Red Sox nowadays).

So overall I liked the book, even if the back stories of all the fantasy nerds run together, the book helps clarify the multi billion dollar business and maybe even give you a small leg up on others in your fantasy league. I'll probably still finish last though.

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