April 17, 2007 -- Posted at 10:00 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO, AR -- Imagine...having the power of Pujols, the swing of Soriano, the riches of Rodriguez all under your ownership. It's all within your reach, when your playing fantasy league baseball this season.
It's imaginary baseball teams based on the real-life performance of baseball players, and competing against one another using those player's statistics to score points. It is the oldest form of fantasy sports and arguably one of the most difficult and time-intensive due to the 162-game season of Major League Baseball.
Thousands of fans cheer from the stands...and millions more play from their personal computers in leagues on-line. It's estimated that 6% of the U.S. population has participated in fantasy baseball.
"You do a lot of research and you try to find players sneaking their way into the system and doing well and not kind of come on the scene," said 2006 Fantasy League Baseball Champion Claud Bull.
"I don't spend a lot of money on pitchers because you just never know about them, it seems like they are always having arm troubles," said Commissioner J. J. Ryan.
"I try to draft as many Cubs players as possible," laughed Cubs Fan Jeremy White.
No matter the strategy, the goal...to build the best balanced team statistically, and in the process, truimph over faceless strangers online or your closest friends.
Bull said, "There are five different catergories of pitching, five different catergories of hitting so you try to make sure you have your power and your homeruns and your stolen bases along with the rbi's and average and everything."
11 teams participate in the D.S.L.B. rotisserie league based in Region 8 since 2001...each person gets an allowance to staff their own field of dreams.
"We all have a cap of $260 dollars of like make believe money and somebody throws off a name and then we just all auction off and you can go as high as you want on certian players, you just cant ever cap out about $260," said Ryan.
"It's a lot of fun playing in the league with these guys you know all of them throughout the year and coming to the auction like this is a lot of fun, bidding on these players and having fun with everybody," said fantasy league player Ed Gibson.
"You can kind of rag each other back and forth and ridicule some of the decisions that are made and it's just fun to have all that going," said Bull.
And the irony of fantasy sports...even if you are at St. Louis at Busch Stadium cheering for the Cardinals...fantasy baseball could have you rooting for your rivals.
"Normally you watch the game when your favorite team is playing...say the brewers and pirates are playing and you don't really care. but if you have a fantasy player on there now you'll watch the game and it means a little more to you becaue you've got something involved," said Ryan.
"Aybody who roots for the Braves needs to have a little bit of sense beat into them," laughed Gibson.