About 35 years ago, after I had known my friend Mark Berenberg for a few years, after one kind of baseball discussion or another, he said to me, "Lawr, you should have a radio show: you'd be good at it."
I laughed this off for a number of reasons. I had a job, at the time working for the City of Oakland, and though I played some strategy board games, the closest I got to the field at the Oakland Coliseum was on Fireworks Night when management let us on the field, and I knew no one in the industry, let alone had anything in my resume or background that pointed to any kind of a life or career in the baseball industry.
Within a few years of Mark's statement, i was married, and with a family, and though I wrote, and had season tickets to the Athletics, due to my own life with illness, and the congenital birth issues surrounding my son Joey, keeping a straight job with solid medical benefits all around was the path I felt I must follow.
I had been playing Strat-O-Matic for a few years by then, and in the late 80's was pulled into my first Fantasy League, and I enjoyed pretty good local success. Then, by virtue of a quirk, I started writing for John Benson in 1993.
During that time, the strange confluence of two things--the growing interest in Fantasy games, and at the same time, the proliferation of the Internet--changed a bunch of the parms to get into sports writing, a field I sort of joined vicariously via Benson. But, in 1996, while I was between jobs, I did indeed learn some HTML and started CREATiVESPORTS, and from there worked for and with enough folks in the fantasy and sports industries that I started to get some recognition for my writing, analysis, and playing skills.
With that the exposure continued and I wrote for my own site, but a bunch of others--Fox Sports, MSNBC, MLB.com, Ron Shandler--and more and as the Internet wormed its way into every fabric of our lives, similarly so did Fantasy and commissioner services and changes in the game and on and on.
Over that time period, radio shows were dangled before me, or should we say my mouth and imagination, which are always on the prowl, but nothing ever came to fruition. Either a lot of expensive equipment was necessary and it was up to me to pay for the electronics needed to operate from home, or the time slots, or the format, or one thing or another got in the way.
Still, Fantasy grew like crazy, and so did the Internet as a vehicle for listening to music, the radio, and virtually every other field of entertainment known to man, and shows featuring the likes of Scott Engel, Matthew Berry, Stephania Bell, Ray Flowers, Howard Bender and Kyle Elfrink flourished via ESPN, Sirius/XM, Fantasy Alarm, RotoExperts, RotoWire, and so on.
I was often a guest on the shows hosted by these folks, happy to talk baseball and music and movies, and always having the most fun, and I was told I was always good on the radio, but still a chance to really yak my butt off for millions was somewhere out there, but not in front of me.
But, a few years back, when DFS really started to become mainstream, my partner Todd suggested a Tout Wars podcast, and somehow last off-season this suggestion came before the Tout board, and per the board, I began to explore the possibilities, and did so with Mike Cardano, who runs the administrative side of the FNTSY Sports Network.
Thus the Tout Wars Hour was born (although in truth, the show runs two). As a sidekick, I went to my pal Justin Mason, the head honcho at Fantasy Friends With Benefits, for a few reasons. First, he is a good guy with whom I not only enjoy talking, but with whom I have an easy time playing off of, and it seems that is mutual. Second, he knows his stuff, which you can confirm by checking out the site and their great podcast. Finally, he is 30 years younger than I, meaning he represents the generation that is now exerting influence upon the industry just as mine did 25 years ago.
Last Thursday, we had our premiere show, though thanks to some shakedown technical issues, the show did not run live, but this coming Thursday, from 8-10 PM ET, we will indeed be live, not just talking fantasy, but focusing on trades, prospects, and drafting, and most important, on strategy and tactics.
And, in doing this we will be talking with the writers and analysts you trust the most. We will have regular features with Doug Dennis (covering relief pitching), Matt Thompson (covering the minors), and of course Lord Z does get to join and talk about numbers for sure, and especially DFS and the NFBC.
So, somehow, nearly 35 years later, Mark's prophecy has come true. I am not sure how he knew, but, well, here we are. So, please do check us out. Big fun, lots of info, and the plan is to go way beyond baseball!
You can indeed follow me @lawrmichaels.