Posted on: April 10, 2009 3:51 pm

Slight change to the Fantasy Baseball scoreboards

I thought I'd let you all about a slight change we made to the live scoreboards in Fantasy Baseball last night. Up until last night, the scoreboards would show you every scoring category(assuming it scores live) your league uses. So for instance, if your league used the scoring category 'Hits' and a player went 2-3 with a single, a double and an RBI, it would show 2-3, 2H, 2B, RBI.  And if your league used the scoring category 'Singles (1B)', it would show 2-3, 1B, 2B, RBI. We always got complaints that showing the 'H' or the '1B' was redundant and confusing.  If a player is 2-3 it is already known that he had 2 hits.  And further, if a player is 2-3 and one of those hits is a Double (2B), then it is assumed that the other hit was a single. Basically, we removed 'H' and '1B' from the stat lines so now, the line described above will be displayed in the traditional way of 2-3, 2B, RBI. I hope this doesn't cause any confusion.

Posted on: April 9, 2009 12:33 pm
Edited on: April 9, 2009 12:54 pm

Remarks about the scoring system changes

Man, it is good to know you guys are alive! When things are going great on our site, as they have been for just about the whole Fantasy Baseball preseason into the regular season, nobody says a word. It is too quiet around here. We start to wonder, "Are they having a good time?" Sure, some users will write in to tell us we're doing a great job. But for the most part, if you are satisfied, you don't tend to chime in.

Well, it seems you have an opinion about the changes we made to the scoring system in Fantasy Baseball head to head leagues. And for the record, they are not all bad. We have actually gotten a lot of good feedback from users who are glad that we "cleaned up" what was a system that was littered with inconsistencies. 

I have seen a lot of speculation on both the message boards and from our awesome customer support team (Kay T, I am talking about you here) as to why we might have made the change.  So, allow me to explain why we felt a change was needed.   

  1. It was apparent that our site was becoming a place where people could essentially "game the system" by starting more 2-start pitchers each week rather than starting just their best pitchers.  In our Premium Fantasy Baseball games, we offer daily roster moves which led to "streaming" of pitchers.  If you are unfamliar with this practice, it basically means that it is better to just have a guy that is pitching and getting points for innings pitched than it is to have nobody pitching.  So people pickup guys who happen to be starting that day and then dropping them the next day and picking up another pitcher who is pitching that day. 
  2. We wanted to create true Fantasy balance between batters and pitchers in relation to actual baseball.  Meaning that the fantasy results should mirror that of an actual baseball team in terms of the contribution each player provides to their team winning or losing the game.  
  3. Competition.  Simply put, we want Fantasy Baseball to be the place where people come to find the cream of the crop in terms of Fantasy Baseball knowledge, so when they win a league here, they know they have beaten the best.

So, let me speak to each of these a little bit.

Regarding #1, if you couldn't tell from the initial description, streaming pitchers is not good for a bunch of reasons, but basically, it isn't Fantasy Baseball.  It just becomes a simple numbers game.  There is no fun or even skill in that.  Secondly, it creates a really poor experience for people who are new to Fantasy Baseball.  We want more people playing Fantasy Baseball. More people playing means you are all able to find more leagues to join, the competition keeps getting better, and the trash talking bar keeps getting set higher.  When new users would come in and see what went on with the streaming of pitchers, they got turned off immediately.  

Regarding #2, I think this has to do more with the evolution of Fantasy Baseball than anything else. Without getting into too much history here, I'll just explain that Fantasy Baseball started off as Rotisserie Baseball. So, it was not originally setup for head to head play.  As Fantasy Football became more and more popular, people wanted a way to apply that way of playing to Fantasy Baseball. There was a time when we had less than 25% of our leagues playing head to head Fantasy Baseball. In the last 7 or 8 years we've now seen that number rise to almost 50%. While some thought went into it at the time, the original head to head scoring system was just a way to apply points for pitching and hitting much like was done for Fantasy Football. It was flawed. And to be honest, I can't believe this site or any other sites hadn't done a better job of adjusting their scoring systems accordingly.

Since that time, head to head Fantasy has taken off in Baseball and more and more people were clamoring that the scoring system just wasn't fair. In more ways than just the pitching categories. So, Eric Mack (Sr. Fantasy Baseball writer), Corey Guerrera (Product Manager), Frank O (aka, The Man), and I sat down and did some real analysis to try and come up with the most balanced system. And that doesn't just mean balancing Batters and Pitchers, it means coming up with a proportionate balance. You don't start the same number of Pitchers and Batters. They don't get to earn points for your team the same amount of times per week. And the amount of damage that a Pitcher can do to a team is far worse than the amount of damage a Batter can do to a team...proportionally. That all needed to be thought about on a holistic level. What we came up with is what we put on the site. And that is not to say that it is right.  I think we'll have to look at what happens this year and perhaps tweak it again for next season. 

But in terms of creating a system that is a reflection for how a particular player performs, I think we did a pretty good job with that. We received a lot of complaints about C.C. Sabathia' s first start. There was nothing positive about that start. He couldn't get out of the 4th inning, gave up 8 hits, 5 walks, and 6 earned runs...he didn't even strike ONE batter out. In Roto, your team takes a beating for that performance. He put his own team into a big hole, why shouldn't that reflect in Fantasy? Besides, -17 points isn't that bad of a penalty considering most fantasy baseball teams will score somewhere between 225-275 points per week. It is proportionate. Even after a 3 day sample size, I challenge you guys to go into your leagues and go to STATS, select ALL BATTERS and look at the YTD Points, and then look at ALL PITCHERS and do the same thing. I think you'll find it to be a fair assesment of how each player has performed so far this year. And we'll see how the season progresses. Maybe we'll be wrong and we'll look back and say it was a mistake. If that is the case, we'll correct it.

This all leads me to my point #3 above which was that we wanted to be the destination for people who wanted to beat the best in terms of competition. The system we've devised will create that. No more streaming pitchers and no more batters who hit a bunch of home runs, but don't get penalized for striking out 200 times. People will actually have to think about who will best contribute to their team based on talent and skill. That's what Fantasy Baseball is supposed to be about. 


For the record, here is the scoring system:

Scoring for Batting Categories
1B - Singles 1 point
2B - Doubles 2 points
3B - Triples 3 points
BB - Walks (Batters) 1 point
CS - Caught Stealing -1 point
HR - Home Runs 4 points
KO - Strikeouts (Batter) -0.5 points
R - Runs 1 point
RBI - Runs Batted In 1 point
SB - Stolen Bases 2 points
Scoring for Pitching Categories
BBI - Walks Issued (Pitchers) -1 point
BS - Blown Saves -2 points
ER - Earned Runs -2 points
HA - Hits Allowed -1 point
INN - Innings 3 points
K - Strikeouts (Pitcher) 1 point
L - Losses -5 points
S - Saves 5 points
SO - Shutouts 5 points
W - Wins 7 points


Posted on: April 7, 2009 9:57 am

Run a Masters Pool

I realize that it's Baseball season and that the last thing you probably want to hear about is Fantasy Golf.  So, I'm not going to talk about it.  But if you're anything like me, you like golf on a casual basis, and maybe even a little more at times.  Well, The Masters (on CBS...a tradition unlike any other) is one of those times for me.  In fact, my friends and I used to run a Masters pool every year where we'd each kick in some ummm, marbles, hold a draft, pick 5 players, and the lowest aggregate score won. And this was great until Tiger came along. Then it was all about who got the first pick in the draft.  So the last few years, we've been using our own Fantasy Golf Challenge to run the pool. The game play changes a little bit because it is a salary cap style game, but the premise is the same.  Basically, each golfer is assigned a predetermined salary and each participant has $1,000,000 to spend on 5 golfers.  Use the "buddy group" functionality to invite your buddies so you can all compete against each other.  We do the rest of the work.  The winner is the person whose 5 golfers earned the most amount of money in the tournament,  It's been working really well for us and the best part about it is that ANYONE can have Tiger if they so choose.  And who knows, you might just win one of our weekly prizes in the process.  Lineups lock on Thursday at 6am ET, so there isn't a whole lot of time. 


Category: Fantasy
Posted on: March 30, 2009 3:09 pm
Edited on: April 1, 2009 10:53 am

Allow Myself to Introduce...Myself.

If you're reading this, then the world is in some sort of post-apocalyptic state and you are a survivor looking through lost artifacts trying to find out what life was like before all this happened to our world.  Fantasy Sports was the focus of our culture and the winners of Fantasy leagues were kings in our society.  Seriously though, you can imagine my surprise when I was asked to start blogging about the Fantasy Products. Would people really want to read about this stuff? Well, I thought about it for all of 5 seconds when I decided, ABSOLUTELY.  If people were going to treat a free utility such as Facebook like it slept with their wife just for changing their layout a little bit, then users certainly will be interested in what the product team has to say about their Fantasy products. If it’s one thing we know about you guys, it is that you are extremely passionate about Fantasy.  And what I’m hoping to show you through this blog is that the Fantasy Product team is as passionate about Fantasy Sports as our customers. 

Anyway, as you can see at the top of the page, the name in my profile is Mike Levine, and you can also check out the little info box to the right that tells you that I am the Sr. Product Manager for Fantasy Sports.  Whatever.  I've never been big on titles and feel as though I've been doing the same job for the last 9 years that I've been here, regardless of what my title has been. The bottom line is that I LOVE fantasy sports. In fact our whole product team LOVES fantasy sports. And while that might not sound like a big deal, think about 99% of the other industries in the world. Do you think product people in a tire company go home and talk about tires or rubber?  Do you think a window guy wants to go home and even begin to think about glass?  We leave here and then go back to our computers to draft, set our lineups, check live scoring, and talk trash to our league mates. And some of those league mates are people we just sat next to all day at work. What kind of sick people are we? 

Danielle MacLean - Director of Fantasy Sports : As far as I can tell she's only ever won 2 College Fantasy Football leagues (back to back) and she never lets anyone hear the end of it. 

Corey Guerrera - Product Manager : The young, brash Fantasy player; plays by his own rules, doesn't care what the experts say, and has the track record to backup his philosophy.

Chris Soblotne - Product Manager :  A total Cleveland and Florida State homer who drafts players from either of those places rounds ahead of where they are projected to go. 

Fazal Imam - Producer :  Jack of all Fantasy Sports, Master of None.  Fazal is asked to be a part of every fantasy league in this building based on his reputation for being a sports savant, but I can't remember the last time he won a league. 

Melissa Klunder - Associate Product Manager :  The newest member of the team so we have very little to go on in terms of her Fantasy identity, but she seems highly capable and is a true sports-aholic. 

Me?  I am old school.  I always draft 2 RBs in the first two rounds of my football draft and always build my baseball teams up the middle.  So basically, I lose because I refuse to adapt…a once proud fantasy champion who now is subject to the ridiculing of a commoner.  All too often I now hear the following phrase from my friends/league mates, "Dude, don't you WORK for SportsLine?”  And I’ll tell you just like I tell them, that just because I produce these products it doesn’t actually make me better than anyone else in Fantasy. 

The reason I'm telling you all of this is because I think you deserve to know who is making the decisions about the products you are all using. I thought that maybe I could give you all a glimpse inside the making of our Fantasy games and products. And that's what the intention of this blog is; to give you some insight into the decision making, the new ideas being kicked around, maybe some tips about how to use our products, alert you to seldom used features, changes we might be making, weird lineup deadlines, and just about anything else you can think of.  Feel free to chime in on the message board at the bottom.  I will try to stay on top of the chatter as best I can.  Also, I am open to any feedback you might have about how this blog could better serve you. But please don’t use this area to report bugs.  We have an amazing customer support team that can help you with any specific issue you might have within your league and you can reach them from the Help link in league navigation.

Category: Fantasy
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or