Written by Daniel Paulling
Published: 28 March 2009
Sam Walker weaves multiple storylines within his book Fantasyland. The central of those is Walker’s first exposure to fantasy baseball. He joins an expert rotisserie league and competes against several professionals. To say the least, he appears overmatched.
Walker hires two assistant GMs, a NASA scientist to represent the cold, hard side of baseball and a baseball savant to represent the scouting opinion. His plan is to win the league through a combination of the two, along with the inside opinion of baseball people to whom he has access.
Fantasyland expands into a discussion of sabermetrics versus scouting. It doesn’t overwhelm the book, and covering it deeper than Walker did probably would’ve taken away from the fantasy baseball focus of his book. He also explores how fantasy experts are becoming trusted opinion-givers for major league organizations, despite the media’s propensity to label fantasy players making front office decisions pejoratively.
Walker provides a brief history of fantasy baseball, which is interesting for those who know nothing about its past but continue to play it daily. One interesting fact: The founder of rotisserie baseball, Dan Okrent, had never won a league when Walker published his book.
The most engrossing element Walker touches upon is the human element. Most fantasy players push aside their daily lives to concentrate on fantasy baseball. Walker falls into this trap, becoming a fantasy fanatic, and tells of how others use their rotisserie leagues as an escape or allow it to overtake their lives.
Walker finishes the 2004 season exhausted and realizes that fantasy baseball is largely based on chance. Fantasy owners win by finding players who surprise through breakout seasons and avoiding veteran players who disappoint through horrible years. The ability to predict that, Walker concludes, is nonexistent. Fantasy baseball is, after all, based largely on luck.
Fantasyland provides fantasy baseball owners a wonderful diversion from the upcoming months of intense pressure. For those who have never played, it gives them a look into the secret lives of fantasy owners who constantly check their phone for score updates and player injuries.AHP Rating: 2.5 ballsAtHomePlate.com writes its book reviews with the following system:Four Balls:
An exceptional book that truly earns a walk straight to the local book story to get a copy.Three Balls:
This book stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.Two Balls:
A book worth reading/owning and is usually above average.One Ball:
This book has something to say but is nothing special.Have you read Fantasyland? Leave your comments below.