'I barely recognized the names on my first fantasy baseball team. My pitching staff was anchored by stalwarts such as Brad Radke and Rick Reed. I muddled my way to a sixth-place finish that year, outmaneuvered by baseball-savvy league-mates.
Despite my mediocre performance, the league was a blast. I met some new people and began to follow baseball again. But it was still just a simple hobby that took up little of my time.
That began to change a few years ago when I read Michael Lewis' "Moneyball," a book about how the small-market Oakland A's manage to compete with the big boys by using statistical measures to discover undervalued talent.
After that, I started reading anything I could find about baseball statistics. I became fascinated with the new ways young general managers such as Theo Epstein, Billy Beane, and Mark Shapiro were using advanced mathematical concepts to find baseball talent. I began naming my fantasy teams--note the plural; I am now in several leagues--"Billy Beane" out of respect.
Fantasy baseball gives me and millions of other enthusiasts a chance to try our hand at a job nearly all of us will never hold--general manager. The Internet gives us access to every statistic that major-league players have ever put up.'