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Thursday 20th Jul 2017

WHY TWO SITES ARE BETTER THAN ONE

Welcome to the first ever posting of Organized Chaos: Assorted Rants, Rumblings and Ruminations from the Mind of a “So-Called” Expert.  I wanted to go with “Grey Matter” but it seems as though that is already taken by some guy at ESPN.

Part of the reason we merged with CREATiVESPORTS was so that I could devote less of my time to the business side of things and more towards the content.  Something I have longed to do for several years is to go back to my roots and do more free-form writing.  So while I will still be providing my usual stable of subscription content, I now also have a vehicle to just be me.  I honestly have no idea how frequently I will be posting, but it will be more than I did last summer but not as much as Ashton Kutcher does on Twitter.  There will also be times, likely many, I will branch away from strictly fantasy baseball content.  But that’s one of the advantages of being an independent site; we are our own bosses.

Speaking of the merger, I thought I would share some of my thoughts about the past couple of months as we have agreed to take this very exciting step.  But first, I would like to give a hearty hello to those coming over from CREATiVESPORTS and to those finding us for the first time.  And of course, I would like to welcome back the loyal followers of Mastersball.

Merging was not easy for me.  But after we publicly announced our plans at the Arizona First Pitch Forum last November, and the most frequent response was “what took you so long”, I knew we made the right decision.

You may also be wondering “what took you so long?”  Well, the reason is largely because I am a very obstinate, bull-headed individual and never quite felt comfortable that merging would be the most beneficial endeavor for all involved.  But the stars obviously aligned and here we are today, Mastersball and CREATiVESPORTS united as one.

It took some pretty strong convincing and some selfless concessions by many involved to make this all happen.  Perhaps the best manner to proceed is to talk a little about the principles involved, maybe comparing them in a way to some names you may recognize.

None of this would have been possible without the cooperation of my partner from last season, Gary Jennison.  There is no way I could have produced a quality product last season without his partnership.  And there is no way I would have agreed to the merger if I did not sense Gary would be on board with the new team.  You see, in a way, Gary is a bit like Chase Utley, a quiet superstar on a team full of better known superstars.  Back when I first met Gary, Utley was projected to be a platoon third baseman, with neither a bat nor glove strong enough to warrant a full time shot at the position.  But being the ultimate professional, Utley accepted a move to second base and worked his butt off to become one of the best at the position in a quiet, yet professional manner.

Another person without whom none of this would have been possible is old friend and partner-again, Rob Leibowitz.  Rob and I were together for 10 years, before he accepted an opportunity to join the growing Fanball crew for the 2009 campaign.  Before we merged with CREATiVESPORTS, a big part of the reason I felt comfortable reworking the Mastersball business model was the anticipation Rob would be coming back home, so to speak.  When it came to fruition, I was elated.  But not long thereafter, the talks with CREATiVESPORTS picked up and we needed to be fair. Rob agreed to be part of a 4-man operation, not a merged site.  But when I presented him with the situation, he was all for it.  In some ways, Rob reminds me of Andy Pettitte.  Pettitte has the reputation of being one of the most consistent, reliable and steady performers in the game.  And when you need him the most, like Rob, Pettitte is best in crunch time.  Of course the analogy is furthered just a bit by the fact both Rob and Pettitte left the roost for what they thought would be greener pastures, only to return.  Sorry bud, couldn’t resist.

Every team needs a respected leader and we are no different.  A good part of the reason I agreed to merge was the inclusion of Brian Walton, a long-time CREATiVESPORTS contributor, fellow XFL and Tout Wars spirited combatant as well as friend.  Brian has a lot in common with Derek Jeter.  Both are equally respected for their on the field and off the field accomplishments.  Neither are afraid to step up behind the scenes when needed to keep the team in line, but they do it in a respectful and constructive matter.

 I am not exactly sure where to begin when I think about JP Kastner.  Perhaps he had an inkling of what was to come, but his voluntary efforts to physically resurrect Mastersball in the form of a living, working web-site was beyond instrumental.  Sure, his helping out was part of an agreement between Lawr and myself for the 2009 season, but what JP did with sparse resources in the limited time he had was amazing.  As the season wore on and I realized that even with JP’s mastery behind the scenes and Gary’s work on the projection engine and other content, we were not set up to continue to produce a product worthy of the Mastersball brand without some changes.  So I casted a line and faster than the speed of light, JP took the bait and we had ourselves a business manager.  Apparently, this was step one of JP’s master plan and soon the merger talk morphed from a whisper to a scream and ultimately into his vision.  As suggested earlier, I was the limiting reagent with respect to a merger, so what made me change my mind?  After watching JP in action, I saw a lot of Theo Epstein in him.  They both combine a youthful enthusiasm with maturity beyond their years.  Theo is faced with the daunting task of competing against a rival with deep pockets and quality brain trust.  In order to do so, he needs to be creative, maximizing productivity by combining building from within along with coming up with sufficient revenue streams to remain competitive from that perspective as well.  In essence, he is managing two different models, but needs to do so to compete.  JP is faced with a similar challenge as he is entrusted with organically growing a quality pay product while simultaneously developing a niche in today’s technologically advancing landscape dominated by Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and the like.

And finally, none of this would be possible without the selflessness of my good friend Lawr Michaels.  Much like Alex Rodriguez agreeing to shift to third base in deference to the Yankees already having some guy named Jeter at short, Lawr agreed to merging under the Mastersball name after sacrificing over a decade’s worth of blood sweat and tears growing CREATiVESPORTS into a very special entity.  I hope the other guys do not mind, but I am going to offer a second analogy for Lawr as he reminds me a lot of Angels’ Skipper Mike Scioscia.  Both are often considered unconventional, both have their moves and actions heavily scrutinized but you know what?  Both always manage to get the maximum results from their efforts and are incredibly successful at what they do.  I would say they both know a little something about something, no?

This story would not be complete without two more important citations.

Mastersball would not exist without the efforts of founder and friend Jason Grey who was kind enough to let me resurrect the name he built from scratch into a highly respected force in the industry.  Describing Jason is easy, but requires borrowing an analogy outside of baseball and will be readily recognized by pro wrestling fans.  When it comes to those making their living in the industry, Jason is the best there was, the best there is and the best there ever will be.

That leaves just one more person to cover.  Actually, the person is not an individual but a group and that group is you, the loyal reader.  You guys make this labor of love worthwhile.  Why?  You are very much like the St. Louis Cardinals fandom.  There is not a group of fans in sport more rabid, more knowledgeable and more hard core but yet still classy and respectful.  While you demand excellence, you are not shy about showing your appreciation.  It is an extreme pleasure to be associated with such a great group of fantasy enthusiasts.

So who am I in this story?  Let’s just say that today I feel like the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

 

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