2017 Annual Disclosure Statement

An Op-Ed columnist in my local paper recently wrote a piece that she called her Annual Disclosure Statement. She said, “I have regular readers and new readers, but I can’t assume that everyone knows where I stand on the issues. Someone reading me for the first time might pass judgment on my work without knowing how I’ve formed my opinions over time. So once a year, I write a column that provides a summary of who I am so you can get to know what makes me tick.”

My first reaction was that her article would be a self-serving vanity piece, but I was wrong. As a new reader, I felt that it really helped provide perspective on her work.

It is important to me that you have similar perspective about my work, so I’ve decided to give this a shot. Here is some background on the events that have shaped me beyond what appears in my official bio. If this turns out to be a waste of time, let me know and I’ll put it to rest.

I was born

I can only confirm this by virtue of my current existence and the anecdotal evidence provided by old photos. They tell me it happened in Flushing, Queens, shortly after the Dodgers and Giants fled New York.

I was not a sports fan as a child; I was a math geek. The excitement of the 1969 Mets title run drew me in, but it was my kid brother, Marty, who turned me on to baseball statistics. During the 1970s, I was a sim game addict. Outside, I was a beer league softball spray-hitting second-baseman with a total inability to pivot on double-play balls.

I joined the college newspaper as a freshman and gained notoriety for writing blatant accounts of the baseball team’s horrible play. I ran for Editor-in-Chief in my senior year and lost, settling for the roles of managing editor and humor columnist.

I graduated from Hofstra University with a BBA in Marketing and an MBA in Management Science.

Becoming an adult

It did not take long after college to find out that I was not cut out to be an employee. In the 16 years after graduating, I’d go through nine jobs; I left only two of them willingly. I was not big on rules, structure, protocol, standard procedure and showing respect for incompetence.

But I did learn a lot while working in the publishing industry. I had a great stint with Doubleday & Company in the early 1980s when they owned the Mets. My longest gig was six years as a sales forecasting analyst for a business publisher. I learned a ton about direct marketing at several other stops and used that knowledge to launch the Baseball Forecaster in 1986. I left Corporate America for good in 1994.

Entering fantasy

I discovered the Bill James Baseball Abstract and the Rotisserie League Baseball book on the same visit to a B. Dalton Bookseller in Manchester, New Hampshire in July 1984. Both books were in the discount bin.

My first fantasy experience was a hockey league in 1984. It was a 6-team league with five local friends. The RonSue Knives finished fourth. A photo from one of the early drafts appears above.

My first fantasy baseball league started in 1985 and ran until 1994 when the strike took its toll on interest. The RonSue Perbs closed out the league by winning the last three years, confirming in my mind that I knew what the heck I was doing enough to write about it.

I have not had a “local league” experience since then and I miss it. I’ve been participating in national experts leagues since 1994. While I enjoy competing against industry colleagues, it’s not the same as having a local league.

Core values

I’ve been writing about fantasy baseball analysis now for over three decades. This is what you need to know:

I’ve taken more statistics courses than I can remember, but I don’t like to rely on quantitative analysis in evaluating baseball performance. The human element has too much impact on a player’s numbers. I prefer to try and find logical, more accessible means of analysis.

As such, my proclamation in the 1994 Baseball Forecaster – “Numbers are everything!” – has been pretty much disavowed. My mantra now is “Embrace imprecision!”

I am a fantasy baseball purist. To me, the game is primarily an intellectual challenge. I do not play for money. While that elevates the excitement level for many, I find it a distraction that takes away from the experience. I do not possess the gambling gene.

I believe that the purest method for building a roster is the salary cap game. Each player’s market value is pre-set and owners need only agree or disagree. Giving owners the power to set their own values (in auctions) or rank players (in snake drafts) provides skewed results.

That said, my favorite draft experience is the auction. I like having access to every player and adding the economic element to the process.

I believe that every method currently in use for in-season free agent acquisition is flawed. There is a solution. I will write about it – again – soon.

I think daily fantasy sports (DFS) are an excellent, exciting variant that requires a different skills set in order to excel. I think the manner in which cash winnings are tied to the core game completely bastardizes the experience.

Still, full season fantasy remains the greatest game. From my farewell column at BaseballHQ.com: “My carrot is the exhilaration that comes with creating a successful new strategy, nailing a breakout performer that nobody else saw coming and grinding out a tough victory. Winning should provide a massive sense of great accomplishment. Picking the right players on one night just doesn’t have the same pay-off for me.”

Tomorrow

Despite moving to Florida last year, I am not retired and have no intention of retiring for a long time. As long as other companies continue to want to pay me, I will continue to free-lance. Building this site, the BABS concept and anything that comes next continues to energize me. I have three book projects in the hopper that I hope to get to in the coming years. I just turned 59 and am not going anywhere.

 

13 thoughts on “2017 Annual Disclosure Statement

  1. rob fleming

    Well, you & I have a couple of things in common. I couldn’t throw a softball from the outfield to the infield so I transitioned to a spray hitting catcher. I’ve forgotten all of the statistics course I’ve taken so I read columns like yours. In June of 1984 I wasn’t yet in New Hampshire, but after retirement from the PD I moved to Bedford, NH and bought books in that same B. Dalton Bookstore in Manchester. And also at age 59 I’m busier as ever and as long as our local Y keeps asking me to teach exercise classes I will.

    I enjoyed the column Ron.

  2. shandler Post author

    Thanks Rob. I wasn’t sure how this piece would be taken. For what it’s worth, I should have mentioned that the reason I played second base was because, I, too, did not have the arm for any other position.

  3. Alan Gellin

    Enjoyable read, Ron. Thanks for filling in many of the details pre-BBHQ. I can’t wait for your solution to FAAB, which is the most frustrating aspect of fantasy baseball.

    1. shandler Post author

      Thanks Al. I was going to mention Francis Lewis High School, but those three years were pretty much inconsequential for me.

      1. Alan Gellin

        They were inconsequential for me, too! Although if we had met and become friends back then, I’m sure I’d have a much different feeling about those years.

  4. Antonio Testa

    Ron,

    I’ve been following and reading your articles for several years and I still found this piece to be informative, interesting, and worth the effort you put into it. One of the things that caught my eye was your mention of local leagues. I have found it a struggle the past 5-years to keep my local league going. I belong to “two” local leagues and the turnover has been gradually increasing and dread the day it all ends. Our local league now has owners from different parts of the country calling/Skyping in for drafts now. I am not sure how to fix it; people don’t have the time as others do, hate the computerized aspect, and most often heard, sick of the same 3-guys winning. I’d be interested if you ever write about this changing part of the game as it seems to not be an issue in other fantasy sports. Thanks for your work, and if you are looking for a local league, I have a couple spots free!

    1. shandler Post author

      This is a fascinating topic that goes beyond the game itself to the changing landscape in the fantasy sports industry. I have written about it on occasion at BaseballHQ.com but it merits a revisiting. My focus over the next few months is to get everyone ready for their drafts, and given that this is a potentially rich topic, I think it will have to wait until after the season begins.

  5. John Schwarz

    I have been reading you a long time, but some of the personal stuff I didn’t know, so thanks for sharing. My local league (a 12 team AL only) has been in “business” since 1990 (I’ve been the commish since 1993), but I didn’t start doing very well until after I started reading your stuff. I am a former high school catcher who took to softball after my playing days were over, but the softball days are long gone now too….looking forward to your thoughts on in-season free agent acquisitions as we still use the original roto rules process. No FAAB.

    1. shandler Post author

      Thanks for writing, John.

  6. Luke Edwards

    The forecaster single handedly change my perspective not only on fantasy but baseball in general. Last year BABS helped me and my friend take second in a big stakes cash league (I, unfortunately, possess the gambling gene). What intrigued me the most about BABS was how intuitive it felt and simply became an extension of me and my partners thinking on player rankings. Thank you for your work and for this article, I sincerely enjoyed it.

    1. shandler Post author

      Thanks, Luke.

  7. rickyv34

    I’m also a very long time reader of your works Ron. As always very excellent. I myself started with the Statis Pro Baseball board game in the early 1980’s and used the game’s formula to create new players for the game. I was addicted to the game and loved the numbers. I myself played fastpitch softball and was a decent pitcher. After one of our games two guys were looking at roster papers. It was the beginning of fantasy baseball via snail mail in a weekly league. The next year that league went online and I was invited to join. That league had a rough patch one year between members and we split off with 6 teams and as time went on we gained members. We are a local group of friends and family. Having young family members has kept the future bright for our league and those young guns are bright. They know how to use the internet to gain knowledge. I love BABS for it’s simplicity. I believe that simplicity could help people who are afraid of the mountain of fantasy baseball stats to be more willing to join a league. Thank you for all these years of great information Ron and please keep it going.

    1. shandler Post author

      I remember Statis Pro. For me, it was first Cadaco All Star Baseball (with the spinner), then I graduated to APBA, and once I got my first PC, it was MicroLeague Baseball. Good times.

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