Sorry to be so inconsistent with my posting lately. It’s no secret that I have been doing some freelance projects for ESPN, my first work of any kind since I was laid off from my biotech job over two years ago. I’m beginning to wonder if I have seen my last test tube.
Anyway, one of the assignments with the World Wide Leader has been to help out with The Answer Guys service, a feature of ESPN Insider where you get to ask a question a week, usually seeking advice on a trade or roster move for your fantasy teams, and it is guaranteed answered within 24 hours. The service is very popular, as the guys that have been doing it for several years are top notch, both in terms of advice and customer service, as is evident by the tone of questions from regular users.
I’m going to be honest. At first, I was struggling with the responsibility, since the questions and desired answers were “not my style”. It’s weird what we remember and what we forget, but something that has stayed with me is a comment made on the NFBC boards when the contest first originated. Someone, in a rather insulting manner warned users, “don’t bother getting into an argument with Zola, he’s only going to try to teach you something.” Little did the disgruntled guy know he just gave me what I consider to be one of the nicer compliments I have ever received.
It was hard at the beginning (OK, it still is hard) to address questions like “Who wins this trade – Howard Kendrick for Matt Garza?” If we were to get this question on the Platinum Mastersball forum where we also have a 24-hour promise, we would respectfully ask for more information. What are the league format and the scoring? Who does Garza/Kendrick replace and who replaces them? Not to mention, the purpose is not to win a trade, but to make your team better and both sides can be winners.
I’m not writing this to bash those that are asking those types of questions, far from it. I am actually writing it to bash my fellow industry brethren for looking down upon questions of this nature and not finding a way to educate those asking as opposed to at best ignoring and at worst, chiding. I see it on message forums, I hear it on the radio.
Granted, not many of the “so-called experts” play in ten team head to head points leagues where Josh Beckett is available on the waiver wire. But, it wasn’t that long ago that you could fit everyone that made a living from fantasy baseball into one room. Now, you need a couple of hotels, preferably on the strip in Las Vegas if you have ever met one of these guys or gals, though I know a few of us that would be just as happy in the Double-Tree in Phoenix Arizona.
My point is, we all had to crawl before we walked. Fantasy baseball is unique in that the games genesis was what we consider to be the most difficult variant, and it has been simplified over time to attract more players. Most things start simple and evolve, like fantasy football, for example. Those of us that have been in the industry for years cut our teeth on AL and NL only auctions, using 4x4 scoring with no reserve lists.
Times have changed. Now the introductory format is the aforementioned ten-team head to head points league, or something similar. But instead of ignoring these leagues or insulting them, if we want to continue to be able to fill a few hotels on the Vegas strip, we, meaning my fellow “so-called experts” and I need to do a better job of teaching them something.
Hmm, where have I heard that phrase before?