Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit: a Review

This post is sponsored by Bloomberg Sports Front Office. Click HERE for the free 7-day trial.

I was comped an account on the Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit on MLB.com, saving me $25. I am a fantasy junkie. I have a team in three leagues and am always looking for an edge. The fact the Bloomberg is actually working with major league teams to provide them with analysis got me excited. Perhaps I would have an edge in my leagues using this toolkit. In addition to that, the big sell on Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit is that rather than be confronted with lines and lines of numbers and data, the use of graphic visuals might make finding data easier.

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After giving the Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit a whirl, I can report that the graphics are excellent. If the ability to see a player's face is important to you while you look at his numbers, you cannot live without this. There are a few attempts at using visual charts to communicate a player's strengths compared to other players and to league averages. These "spiderwebs," look sophisticated, but they carry no information in their graphic presentation that you are magically able to absorb any better than the lines of numbers and data that Bloomberg has saved you from. The subset of people on earth who are fantasy geeks who are turned off by rows of numbers and data is pretty small. While there are nice features of lining up players for comparison by position, teams, and other permutations, the graphics were sweet, but this frosting added nothing to the meal.

I could see if you wanted to introduce a kid to Fantasy Baseball, Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit would be a great thing to have. Rather than Father and son playing catch in the yard, they could nerd out on the computer as dad regales junior with tales of winning a 5 x 5 league the year everyone underestimated a resurgent Ervin Santana. For teenagers, casual fans and first time fantasy player, I could see the graphics holding one's interest longer, but again, they are different presentations of the same numbers.

Another feature that I enjoyed was the mass of internet scouring that the Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit can do on any player. This actually might be its strongest function - and outside of Fantasy Baseball, I found a way it can save you lots of money. If you know anything about the con-job that is ESPN-Insider, you know that interns in Bristol basically cull dozens of news sources and hype the most casual mention of a player or team from local papers as hot insider info and charge you to read it. You only end up subscribing when your favorite team or players are mentioned, right? Well, Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit does all of that the intern scouring for you, lined up with articles that mention players you specify. Sure there are 300+ articles mentioning Albert Pujols, but if you want the latest on some AAA reserve for Cleveland who is getting a callup, one click delivers recent mentions from reliable sources with meat on the bone.

IF there is a weakness here, it is that there is no fantasy league to form here - it is just a tool to analyze players in your fantasy league somewhere else. You will spend a good hour collecting up your fantasy team roster. And then you are left with a graphic representation of your team with pictures and data you find on Yahoo or CBS, and you already know those interfaces so well, you might be pained to wonder midseason whether you are using this glorified search engine for much. It doesn't let you compare your team instantly to your opponent - Yahoo already does that, and it is a pretty important feature, but Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit is a narcissistic enabler, it is all about YOU, dude.

IN conclusion, the graphics on Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit give very little of interest that most everyone who plays fantasy baseball cannot already cull from boring lines of numbers and data on Yahoo and CBS, but a court ruled that the data was not the property of MLB and therefore, the league office had to license something with player pictures somewhere to someone. Because I have memorized the interfaces of Yahoo and CBS over the past years (as have you), It was laborious for me to have to adapt to using the Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit interface - which is great and nicely designed, but making the commitment to use it was dulled by the fact that there was no Bloomberg league I was analyzing. It was downright tedious trying to put together a roster with a few windows open on my computer to access information I can already pull from Yahoo or CBS. This season, I will be using Bloomberg's Tools to read headlines and reports from around the league on obscure players. When I log into MLB's Bloomberg interface (which one must do every time, quite the headache) to get this inside dope, my screen will be lit up like a high-end design version of the console to the USS Enterprise; but until they end the tedium, the Bloomberg Fantasy Toolkit will remain an alien life form in the Fantasy sports universe.

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