March Madness: First-Round Redux

My fantasy baseball draft is coming up in about a week and a half, and pretty much no one other than me and my fellow league members will care about that.  March Madness, as Dan Shanoff mentioned the other day, is different.  Everyone seems to care about everyone else’s bracket, and I’ll offer up a few reasons why today, before I look at the first round of action (and lament Duke’s loss) tomorrow.

  1. A certain level of skill is necessary to compete in fantasy baseball with any kind of success.  It takes hours (or weeks) of preparation, reading a few good magazines or books, and a general knowledge of baseball and the 1200-or-so players on MLB 40-man rosters.  Picking teams on a bracket, on the other hand, requires just a few minutes to fill out, and even if you don’t know anything about basketball, your chances of winning aren’t really that much worse than anyone else’s.  I spent a few hours looking at matchups (and playing with Excel spreadsheets) before coming up with mine, which was probably overkill.  Cue the remarks about how my picks don’t show the wisdom of someone who spent hours looking at the matchups…now.
  2. Scoring systems in bracket competitions are generally pretty simple.  It’s usually a 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-4-8-16-32, or other similar scoring system for correctly picking the winner of each round, and it only takes a minute or so to sit down and calculate your score.  Fantasy baseball (football, basketball, or other similar games) is usually scored on a website that calculates individual player stats, then totals them for the team, and then arranges the teams in some sort of order, and it does all this on a a daily basis.  Plus, the variation of scoring systems can be rather large.  Some leagues use on-base percentage, slugging percentage, or maybe even runs created, and you often need to know how many teams are in a league before you can gauge how good a fantasy team is.  Brackets kind of speak for themselves, and you can tell if someone’s doing okay within seconds.
  3. The baseball season, including spring training, lasts from mid-February to the end of October.  March Madness lasts just three weeks, requiring far less management and upkeep (zero) during the three-week tournament.  People can fill out a bracket and track it tirelessly, or not at all, and it doesn’t make a difference.

There are probably others, but these are the first ones that come to mind for me.  Tomorrow I’ll look at how I did in the first round of the tournament and see which teams are looking better or worse than they were on Thursday.

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