DEAR ROTOMAN: I Love the Washington Football Team’s Name Too Much to Buy The Fantasy Football Guide 2014!

Screenshot 2014-07-27 18.58.42The Fantasy Football Guide 2014 appeared in stores last week, just as it has each of the past 15 Julys. It was also the week that my trusty but aging computer managed to breath its last.

Now replaced, the email flows, including this letter that reminds me that in this year’s Guide we wrote about the Washington football team. I’ll let the writer explain:

I had your magazine in my hand, ready to buy it, like I’ve done for the past 15 years. Until I saw your Letter from the Editor.

I am buying your publication for football fact and insight, not mindless politically correct, cattle following opinions. When I see someone with other than white skin complaining then maybe I’ll look up and listen. The courts will rightly give back their trademark for all the obvious reasons.

Until then, I’ll get my info elsewhere from more astute and football passionate people. I put your rag back on the shelf.

The most ardent Giant fan there is

Now, I bristle a little about the claim that political correctness is the reason reasonable people want to do the right thing. And while there certainly are times political orthodoxy has led to idiotic extremes, there are a lot of times that wanting to do the right thing leads to doing the right thing, once enough people turn political correctness into political power.

redskins+logo+petaI’m not rabid about the Washington football team’s name. I don’t think Daniel Snyder means to be racist or offensive, but it is clearly offensive to a broad swath of Native American people, and the idea that it originated as a tribute is fairly laughable. Read this story by the Washington CBS affiliate to the end to understand why, as well as to see how the name is acceptable in some Native American communities.

Comparisons to the N-word in its defense are not a winning argument. Suggestions to change the logo to that of a potato with the same name got my support in the Guide, by the way. Artwork by PETA.

Those who read the Fantasy Guides and this blog and my posts on Twitter (@kroyte) and Facebook (PeterKreutzer) know that I think discussion changes minds. Me telling you something might get you to put the magazine back on the rack, but my hope is if you and I get to talking we’ll each gain a better understanding. Together we might get to a better idea.

So please write if you disagree, let me know why, and give my arguments as much of a shot as I give yours. In Mike’s case, his main point was that my point was pointless because I’m a slave to a political view that has no Native American supporters.

I wrote to him:

Dear Mike,

Thanks for writing. I think there are more than a few people with other than white skins who are complaining, which is why the tongue in cheek suggestion that the Redskins refer to potatoes seemed to me like a light-hearted way to comment on this situation.

Clearly you disagree, and I’m sorry about that, since the editorial content of the magazine is exactly the same as it has always been. One word has been excised, and the editor explained why he thought that was a good idea.

Have a great season. We will miss you.

MLBPA Is Threatened By A-Rod Case

Ken Rosenthal has an excellent piece out today at Fox Sports.

He alludes to something I have long thought had gotten lost in the long history of baseball and PEDs: The union’s opposition to drug testing back in the 90s. The story is usually told that the union looked the other way, or resisted baseball’s efforts (especially in the early part of the decade) to get or stay clean. But this  simply isn’t true.

Peter Ueberroth

The union’s resistance to drug testing and other enforcement procedures was based on its obligation to protect player rights, as well as a profound lack of trust in the owners. Remember that this period coincides with the massive triple-damages award in the collusion ruling against MLB and Peter Ueberroth (based on their 1985-1987 efforts stifle the free agent market).

This was also the time of the run up to the owner’s massive (and failed) attempt to crack the union by shutting down baseball in midseason in 1994.

Oh, and this was also when George Steinbrenner accepted a “lifetime” ban from the game because he had hired a whole lot of shadiness to try to extract himself from his obligations to Dave Winfield by tarnishing Winfield’s reputation.

The union’s position that ownership could not be trusted was well earned.

In the A-Rod case, as Rosenthal points out, MLB sued Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch in order to pressure him to testify against A-Rod. Whether they could have won that case is doubtful, but there is no doubt that Bosch was in no position to pay for a defense. This is the place where the player’s union could have stepped in to protect not only A-Rod but all players’ rights, but declined. Rosenthal writes:

“Rodriguez’s legal team could have made its case without attacking Weiner, who died of brain cancer on Nov. 21. But one of the team’s central points – that the union should have acted to stop baseball from its “sham” lawsuit against Biogenesis – is a fair criticism, particularly in hindsight.”

But Rosenthal also points out the bind that the union was in. On first blush, a countersuit would certainly have looked like they were defending drug use, just as history says they were defending it back in the 90s when they were trying to protect against just such a situation with MLB running over player rights.

The silver lining for A-Rod (and could the union have had the foresight to defend him by going at it this way?) is that perhaps his only chance of winning his lawsuit against MLB is to show that his union failed to represent him competently.

Do you know Bill Veeck?

In this piece at Baseball Prospectus, not written by a BP writer and thus available for all of us, Tim Marchman talks about one of baseball’s greatest, Bill Veeck.

The trigger for Marchman’s highly enjoyable story is a website called, a repository for a Chicago guy’s video archive which includes lots of Veeck’s vlogging efforts back in the 50s. Yes, vlogging.

Lots of baseball history is nostalgia, the tinted memories of a better or less challenging time, but Bill Veeck isn’t a nostalgic figure, he’s an exemplar. A working guy who worked his way into the baseball game and never seemed to forget that the game was meant to be remunerative and meaningful for the players and fun for the fans. Plus, he was vlogging back int he 50s. Amazing!

Thank you, Carter, for the heads up on this one!

The Rules of the Game: Name Your Payout

Over the winter I came up with the idea of posting a Tout Wars Leaderboard at The idea would be to assign an entry fee for each team, and then award prizes at the end of the season reflecting the payout, based on the number of teams in the league (since we have 12 in AL, 13 in NL, and have had anywhere from 12 to 17 in the Mixed league).

One sensitive issue was the prevailing ethos when the first 12 years of Tout Wars were played, which said that, “Second place is first loser.” I know that there were times when, dealt a tough hand, I made the high-risk high-reward (if only) trade rather than grind into battle for fourth place, the way I would have if there was money at stake. I’m certain others played this way, too, so these retroactive results are imposed from above. They don’t reflect how behavior might have been changed if this way of measuring was known when the games were played. In spite of this limitation, I forged forward.

Choosing a $100 entry fee was easy. It’s round, easy to average, like an index. Done.

Deciding how to pay out fairly was more complicated. I’m not going to go into all the round and around I did, but I decided to pay out to the top 33 percent of the teams in each league. In 12 and 13 team leagues this means the top four teams are paid. In 14-16 team leagues five teams are paid. In 17-19 team leagues 6 teams are paid. This seemed in keeping with the original roto rules of Top 4 being paid in a 12 team league.

But the standard roto payout is the somewhat awkward 50-25-15-10, which not only isn’t linear, but it doesn’t scale to the larger-sized league payouts. Since the idea was to compare across leagues, the payout reflecting the difficulty of prevailing, it seemed to me to be a good practice to have the percentages be fairly consistent as they scale up. So I made a simple equation, assigning X to the last money spot and then doubling the value of X for each higher spot. For a 12 team league this looks like: 1x+2x+4x+ 8x. In this case x = 1200/15 = 80. The payouts go:


Sweet. The same process was used in the larger leagues, all of which–I think–does a fairly good job of representing the value we take away from our standard roto leagues, which were the models for Tout Wars. But this isn’t the only way to do this.

I’ve played (and play) in leagues with a more graduated payout. That is, last place may get nothing, and each place up the standings earns a little something more than the one below it. This is more like the way real baseball works. It isn’t all or nothing between fourth and fifth, but a graduated scale reflecting success in winning and managing costs. It would certainly be instructive if we could see the profil/loss statements for the actual teams in addition to the won/lost records. A graduated payout changes the way teams play, since there isn’t the same desperation to get into the money, but there is incentive to win more money.

I’ve played in leagues with no salary cap, where you could spend as much or as little as you wanted (and deemed prudent), in order to win a percentage of the pool. This, I found, turned out to be less interesting than (I think, because we never got that game together) )if we’d played for fixed amounts for first, second, third and fourth, with no salary cap, and any extra money that was spent was paid to those who finished fifth, sixth, seventh and so on, down to next to last.

I’ve also played in winner take all games, and others that paid bonuses for rare events, like no-hitters and hitting for the cycle, or allowed the roster to carry over into the post season, for a second pool. These payouts weren’t major enough to change regular season play, but if they were incentives might be skewed and teams might play differently. The point is that designing the payout structure of your league (which pertains even if you don’t play for actual money) reflects decisions you’re making about how you value winning, being the runner up, the importance of participation all season long, and a host of other things that make your game fun or more or less so.

There isn’t a right or wrong way in the end, but whatever decisions you make will inevitably reflect the values you bring to the game and the value of winning (or not). That’s pretty darn interesting, if you ask me, and relates to whole lot of things we do outside of our fantasy sports pursuits.

Why Scott Boras Isnt As Evil As You Think He Is


One reads a lot of crap analysis about sports (well, and other stuff too), but this is totally on.

It doesn’t mean that Boras isn’t a problem in the context of organized MLB baseball, but why would us fans choose to side with the owners and their uncounted stores of money, rather than the players, who make the game we like to watch with their talent?

Evil and Boras

Joe Posnanski

The always excellent Posnanski looks at an incident in the A-Rod book having to do with Scott Boras, and shows how the way our mindsets predispose us to play Boras as the villain, even though author Selena Roberts (maybe inadvertantly) sprinkles the stories with clues that suggest the Mariners were behaving the way Boras claimed they were. That is badly.

At the start of the piece Posnanski says he isn’t commenting on the main aspects of the book because he’s friends with Roberts, and anyway there is plenty of discussion out there, which stirs up a hornet nest in the comments that is interesting in its own right.

And, among other things, there is also a discussion about whether rising ticket prices are the result of higher salaries. One poster suggests, though he admits he can’t prove it, that if all salaries were cut in half, surely ticket prices would be cut, too. Why?

If prices are set by supply (x number of tickets) and demand (how much people are willing to pay), you would have to prove that cutting salaries would either increase the supply of tickets or decrease the demand. I don’t see how either happens.

One factor, if the players make less maybe the owners would make so much that they would be shamed into reducing prices. Except we only know how much the players make. We don’t know how much the owners make, so how can they be shamed?

The Houses That Ruthlessness Built

Alan Barra, Village Voice

I’m not sure I agree with Barra that the Yankees and Mets are cashing in, coasting instead of spending the ducats necessary to win. But the quote from Marvin Miller calling to task the phrase “fiscal responsibility” is powerful. If only we knew how much money the teams were making we could judge their decisions in this way. That we don’t know, yet we’re building them luxury palaces of profit maximization, is the real scandal.

Or maybe that’s the fiscal scandal. The possibilities that Brian Cashman isn’t very good at his job and that the Wilpons are as inept and dysfunctional as the Angeloses are very real, and I think better explain why these two big-spending teams aren’t very good.

2007 Payroll Efficiency

The Baseball Analysts: Rich Lederer

The official numbers are out and Rich Lederer does us the favor of plotting the team salaries and games won on a chart, along with a sensible discussion of the implications. I’m assuming that revenue sharing numbers aren’t included, which would skew the chart in interesting ways. The Yankees would spend more per win. The Marlins would make more money per loss. But that’s not what’s at play here.

Click the link and find out how your team did converting dollars to wins.

On the other hand, the final numbers show that player salaries were less than 45 percent of total baseball revenues, a drop of nearly 10 percent since 1994’s cancelled post season, which was in large part a fight over a salary cap at something like 50 percent of revenues.

New Ballpark Webcam

The Official Site of The Minnesota Twins

Construction is underway on the Twins new ballpark, and it was announced this week that despite cost overruns (already!) that the Twins themselves will make up the difference.

Meanwhile, my wife, author of Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, tells me that the stadium is being built less than 1,000 feet away from a giant trash incinerator that will be releasing all sorts of toxics from the materials it burns. The upper deck of the new yard will be at about the same height as the smoke stack of the incinerator.

This link is to the report analyzing how many of those metals will end up in the playing field, how much players and fans will inhale and ingest (there is actually a formula to determine dirt ingestion in the report), and how that compares to EPA and other (many elements don’t have established harm levels yet) standards.

So far, things look good, though the discussion of the effects on a Child Season Ticket Holder fired my imagination, if not any sense of imminent alarm.

It’s good the builders and the county government and the Twins are thinking about these things. Let’s just hope they get it right.

Mitchell Report to Name Names


This post is mostly to express my weariness about the forthcoming Mitchell report. Since everybody else in the world seems to have an opinion, why not me? Mine is that all discussion before the report is released, including leaks of tantalizing tidbits that don’t actually include information, should be taken in the form of PR people spinning, since at this point none of us know anything real about the report.

My ears did perk up when someone leaked that there would be surprises. I’ll be surprised (but hardly shocked) if that’s the case.