Cupie for Halos Heaven: What is going on with Sig and Nando these days?
Sam Walker: Nando is working for Court TV and writing a column for ESPN.com and appearing on ESPNEWS most Fridays at 3:50 PM. He's also helping me in AL Tout Wars and competing in the Tout Wars mixed league. He's still doing his part to make sure the watering holes of Greater New York make their profit targets. Sig is in his second season as Senior quantitative analyst for the St. Louis Cardinals. His biggest area of specialty is preparing for the amateur draft, although he occasionally does studies for the Major League club. In a couple of weeks, he'll be getting his World Series ring.
I say this because I think the world may actually end at that moment.
Halos Heaven: What about the Zoladex?
SameWalker: We buried it in a Kleenex box.
Halos Heaven: What are your thoughts on having those who created rotisserie/fantasy baseball having a place in the Hall of Fame?
Sam Walker: I'm all for it. As geeky as this hobby can be, I don't think we fully understand the contribution it has made to baseball. When the Rotisserie league came along in 1980, free agency was changing the game and alienating a lot of fans. Rotisserie gave them a way to follow the players, no matter what uniform they were wearing. After the 1994 strike, fantasy nuts were the first people who dared to come back to the game. I've heard it said that without Rotisserie, baseball would be hockey. And I think there's some truth to that. It's no surprise that MLB has been moving into the fantasy business. There's a ton of money there.
The most underrated contribution the founders made is that they basically created Bill James. Dan Okrent, one of the original Rotisserie players, discovered James by writing a profile of him for Sports Illustrated. Another of the founders, Lee Eisenberg, gave James his first major gig writing a baseball preview for Esquire. And Peter Gethers, another of the original Rotisserie guys, was James's first editor at Ballantine. I don't think it's controversial to say that James has had a big influence on modern baseball. And even if you disagree, it's safe to say that his books and essays have made the game come alive for a certain segment of fans.
Halos Heaven: When you won the "AL Tout Wars", was not Brandon Phillips, whom you had on your team, on the Cincinnati Reds?
Sam Walker: No, that was the following year. Tout Wars lets you keep the stats from players who are traded to the other league, and Phillips was dealt from Cleveland to Cincinnati a couple days after we'd drafted him in Tout Wars. I give all the credit on that one to Nando. We tried to do the same thing this season with Angel Berroa in Kansas City, but he's still stuck in the minors.
Halos Heaven: What is your wife's impression of your journey during Fantasyland and fantasy baseball in general?
Sam Walker: She's fascinated but horrified. I think it's sort of like driving through your neighborhood after a tornado. She recognizes me, but she can tell that big parts of my brain have been lifted up and moved to another place. If you read the book you'll see that she was an absolute angel of mercy during the 2004 season. I'll always be in her debt for the Bill Mueller incident at Yankee stadium. That was really one of the greatest whirlwind days of my life, and it wouldn't have happened if she hadn't been so accommodating. These days it's different, though. My free pass is gone. I'm just like a lot of my friends who play. At night I'm pretending to be working on my next book idea when I'm really just trying to figure out whether to bench David Wells for Livan Hernandez. I honestly think she'd rather catch me looking at porn than obsessing over my Roto team.
Halos Heaven: On Halos Heaven, the founder, moderator, and main contributor hosts an Astrology-based Fantasy Baseball internet radio show, Karmaball, so I especially enjoyed and found fascinating the thoughts and predictions of Andrea Mallis, sometime astrologer for The Streetwalkers. Do you think astrology has a place in baseball?
Sam Walker: Yes, and I'm not delusional.
I know Andrea Mallis is an astrologer and that most GMs would never hire her because they would be terrified of the press finding out. And I know it would be hard to measure her track record: she doesn't project a player's home run totals before the season and she won't pretend to be able to tell you how many earned runs Barry Zito is going to give up on a given night. She focuses on predicting a player's overall "energy" rather than his totals.
But here's the thing: The season I hired her, I asked her to give me detailed projections for a dozen players I'd asked for, including Jarrod Washburn, Vladdy, Kevin Brown and Billy Koch. She would explain their planetary issues and then tell me, broadly, how their season should progress. She told me Eddie Guardado would struggle early in the season and he did. She said C.C. Sabathia might have an injury problem in late June, and he did. She said Ty Wigginton would probably slump in August and he hit .192. With very few exceptions, her predictions were spot on. For pennies on the dollar, some Major League team could hire her and start cataloguing her projections. After a few years they would have a pretty good idea whether she was adding value. Hey, when you're spending $100 million on a ballplayer, you might as well find any advantage you can.
What I love about Andrea is that she's determined to get her shot. She goes to the winter meetings every year and passes out flyers. I hope it's only a matter of time before someone signs her up.
Halos Heaven: Is there anything more you would like to share with the readers at Halos Heaven, current projects?
Sam Waker: My agent will shoot me if I don't mention that Fantasyland cracked the New York Times bestseller list earlier this month. And yes, I'm working on another book, but it's too early to say much. I'll tell you this: It's not a biography of Troy Percival.
HH: Thank you again for writing an amazing and fantastic book about losing your mind playing fantasy baseball.