Thursday, March 04, 2010

An Invitation

Many readers write to ask how they could play in a fantasy league against me.  I find it flattering and it's unfortunate that I almost always have to say no for many reasons, some of which I usually explain in my notes of decline.

Well, with more people than ever asking about this in the past few months, I had an idea this week that has now solidified into a plan.  I'm going to invite 14 readers to join me online in a fantasy auction as I try out a very new systematic auction strategy, which is admittedly very much in the early theoretical stage if not still the idea stage.  Using a strategy we've never even remotely tried before in real competition, the results could be that I end up with a worse team than anyone else and I don't mind if that happens.  My one wish is that the readers who get selected for this experiment do try to put together the best possible team they can in the auction.  We want tough competition here.

For the strategy to be effective, I will not tell readers in advance how it works but once the auction is over, I will write it up here and explain what went right and what went wrong and what weaknesses I detected in the approach.  There's no substitute for trying ideas out against players who want to beat you and are capable of beating you.  This will not be a true "league" in the sense that we're only going to do an auction (i.e. you're stuck with the roster you drafted, no trades or transactions) but we will still track the teams throughout the season and will occasionally revisit them to see how everyone did.  Also, even without any post-auction transactions, whichever reader ends up with the highest ranked team at season's end will get their name published here, if they wish for it to be published that is.

So, to be fair to everyone, here's how this is going to work.  The mock draft will be a 5x5 mixed league with an auction format.  Additional details about roster requirements will follow once we have identified the participants.  We don't have a draft date set but it will be on an afternoon or evening in late March or early April, outside of normal business hours, and we may very well split the auction over two sessions if necessary.

We definitely will have more people interested in participating than there are spots so to be considered, send an email to...

... and put the subject of your email as the word Challenge.

There is no need to write anything in your email as these messages will automatically go into a folder and only those selected for the league will eventually receive a response.  You do not need to be a subscriber to the paid section of the site and the only criteria to participate is that you must be an amateur.  In other words, if you have a website that publishes information about baseball or if you write a baseball blog or even the occasional article, even if you don't make a profit, well then this league isn't for you.  You will be asked to confirm your eligibility if and when you are selected.  I'm trying to get strong players but at the same time, players who aren't trying to get in for the purpose of promoting something.  On or around Friday March 12th, we will pick 14 random email addresses from all received and those readers will be contacted during the weekend following with additional details, including a draft time and day.  If any reader can't make it for the date we pick, we'll continue to draw randomly from the willing participant pool until we end up with 14 opponents to go up against me in this mock auction, forming a 15-team auction.

In a semi-mock league that doesn't have transactions, there will be a huge amount of luck, especially the negative kind.  In other words, if someone's ace pitcher tears his ACL on Opening Day, well that's a team that probably won't win.  However, we'll still track the results throughout the season and again, I don't mind if this idea I have doesn't work out for our system.  While a single league doesn't ever prove that a system is good or bad, I have noticed that even the first application of an idea to a fantasy league often reveals fairly obvious weaknesses in any idea or approach.  If the system I'm trying finishes last, well then we will probably have learned something.  It's all in good fun and I feel the only way to test out the idea effectively is to do a very preliminary test of it against players who will do everything they can to end up with a better team than me.

So, if you're interested, please follow the instructions above on how to submit your name for consideration.  We're hoping for some tough competitors!