Posted on: June 4, 2009 9:59 am
I received a few questions during Fantasy Baseball Draft season about the new voice in the draft rooms. For those of you in a typical "snake" style draft, the voice lets you know when you are on deck to pick, or when you are on the clock to make your pick. If you are in an "auction" style draft the voice lets you know that time is running out on the current auction by saying "Going Once", "Going Twice", and "Sold" once a player is sold. It also lets you know when it is your turn to nominate a player.
We've gotten some good feedback on it. A lot of people wanted it so they could leave the room during a draft, turn the volume on their speakers up, and the voice will let them know when they are on the clock. Some people have gotten annoyed with it, but we do offer an easy way to turn it off. But most of the feedback we've gotten is about who the voice is. Many people thought it sounded familiar to them, but that they could not place it.
Since we launched Fantasy Football this week and drafts are going to start ramping up soon, I thought I'd post it here. Anyway, the voice of the draft room is none other than CBSSports' own Gus Johnson . If you are familiar with Gus Johnson's work, you know that he is Mr. Excitement when it comes to calling a game. If you are unfamiliar with Gus Johnson by name, you've no doubt heard him call either NCAA Tournament or NFL games and probably asked yourself why this guy was getting so excited about a random play in a game. He calls every play in a game like it is the most important play in the game. And that's what we liked about him. He was a no-brainer of a choice when we were trying to determine who was going to be the voice of our draft rooms. He brings a high level of excitement to what we feel is one of the most important days of the Fantasy season.
We also had Gus create a bunch of other sound bytes that we are going to try to work into the draft room as well. So you can look out for those in the future. By the way, he's also in the Mock Draft rooms which are also up and running if you want to check it out. We'll have Mock Drafts for Auction leagues coming soon. As always, if you have any feedback about the voice of the draft room, I am listening.
Posted on: May 18, 2009 4:02 pm
Well I'm back from my honeymoon. I take it from the overwhelming response to my pre-honeymoon column that you'll all now be able to finally get some sleep and carry on with your lives knowing that I have returned safely and will now be resuming my blogging duties. For anyone who is interested, Wifi access was sporatic at best. Most hotels offer it, but at an exorbitant rate. Some cities actually had public free hotspots which was really nice, but I still had to tote my laptop to that public place and find a comfortable place to site for a few minutes. Internet cafes were fewer and further between than I had expected. So, between all of those options, I was able to check on my teams a few times...much to the dismay of my new wife. But we are still married, so 'no harm-no foul'.
So, I was looking back through the community and our customer support emails to see what I missed the last couple of weeks. It seems like some of you are continuing to harp on the scoring changes made to the Fantasy Baseball games. In these threads I've seen myself and some other CBSSports.com Fantasy Baseball writers get called out for not addressing these anymore. I am not ignoring these, I just think that we've beat that horse to death. You can continue to make your voice heard to your heart's content though. Just know that we will be reviewing the scoring system again at the end of the season and we'll make any changes that we deem necessary to ensure the most fair and most fun game possible.
Another issue that I keep hearing about is the amount of time that it can sometimes take for a player to hit the DL on our site. First of all, I'll let you know that in years past we've relied on an automated process. It involved a few moving parts and admittedly it probably wasn't as timely as it could have been. This year, in response to our customers, we've been trying to couple the automated process with someone who is actually "babysitting" it to make sure that players get updated in a more timely fashion. Again, it is not perfect but in my opinion has been vastly improved from years past. Plus we are working on a new automated process that should all but eliminate the issue. I know this is an area where we can improve and we are taking action to do so.
What is troublesome to me about some of the postings and emails I've seen is that some of our users don't realize that a player must actually be placed on the official MLB Disabled List before we can do anything about it. Anything else is just speculation. I saw more than a few people complaining about Carlos Delgado not being updated and they were time stamped well before he was actually put on the DL. We can't help it if the Mets are wavering about what to do with this guy. Anyway, I don't mind people ripping us when we are slow to get someone on the DL, but I can't help but get defensive when our hands are tied. For the record, once Delgado was placed on the DL, we had him updated quickly.
What else did I miss?
Posted on: April 30, 2009 2:07 pm
So, I'm getting married this weekend. And that's all well and good. I can get scores and even make add/drops on my phone this weekend if I need to. But it turns out that my wife-to-be wanted to go on a honeymoon, too. I've tried explaining to her that Fantasy never sleeps. That I can't just pick up and leave for any extended period of time. In the 9 years that I've been here, I've never been away from this office for more than 5 consecutive working days.
We actually had to pick the wedding date around our Fantasy Sports cycle. January through the start of April was out of the question because of the start of Baseball season and March Madness. And since we were rolling Football over right after the NFL draft this year, the end of April was out as well. We fully launch Football at the start of June and that time though the first few weeks of the NFL season are out in terms of going away...it's just not going to happen during that time. Then Hockey and Basketball launch. So the end of September through the first week of November are out. By then you are into Thanksgiving and Christmas and before you know it, we're back at January. So basically, there is a window where we (barely) slow down in early May. I saw the window and decided to take it.
Now, I'm not one of those people who thinks that their workplace will never survive if they are not there. This place runs whether I'm here or not. So even though there is ALWAYS something going on or coming up in terms of the production of the site, I can deal with leaving here for a little while. And I have full faith that everything that needs to get done while I'm gone will indeed get done.
What I am much more concerned about are my Fantasy Teams. Since I was so particular in terms of when the wedding could be, I had to make a compromise on the length and location of the honeymoon. So, as much as I tried to keep the honeymoon in the good old USA (I even offered Hawaii), we are headed to Europe. Now, it's been a long time since I've been anywhere in Europe...the last time I was there I'm not even sure the internet had been invented yet. From what I remember, things like figuring out the electrical intricacies were a challenge. So I'm a little more than worried that I won't be able to effectively manage my Baseball teams from over there.
We have a (surprising) number of users from overseas. So I'm guessing they have the internet by now. Let's assume that they have the internet. Let's even assume that I can figure out the electrical converter situation, that the hotels I stay in will have a wireless network, and that my laptop works over there. There is still the issue of a big time difference. And that doesn't even get into the fact that surely my new wife won't want to deal with any of this while she is on her honeymoon.
So, I've gone ahead and done the unthinkable. I have given the reigns of my team over to another person. Corey Guerrera, our trusty product manager who I so eloquently hyped up in a previous blog. Like I've said, Corey is a really good Fantasy player. And more importantly, he's the only one of the truly great fantasy baseball people in this building who isn't already in my big money league. But still, I feel dirty. I've never let any other person (that I wasn't splitting a team with) make a move for any one of my teams. I just doesn't feel right. I imagine this is what some people feel like when they leave their child for the first time with a strange person.
Anyway, I just felt the need to vent. And to let you know that I wasn't going to be here for a couple of weeks. If I can get up and running over there, and I have jetlag in the middle of the night and my wife is sleeping, I'll try and get on and give everyone an update. I'm hoping that maybe even Corey G will hop on here as me and let you all know how badly he is screwing up my teams. Also, since I'm not leaving for a couple of more days, if anyone has any stories they can tell me about how you've managed your teams while in another country, I'd be very interested to hear them. At any rate, I'll see you in two weeks recharged, re-energized, and hopefully not divorced already for not being able to forget about Fantasy Baseball for a couple of weeks.
Posted on: April 27, 2009 2:04 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2009 2:07 pm
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Posted on: April 23, 2009 1:15 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2009 1:16 pm
I apologize for not getting a blog up sooner this week, but I have been on the road. I've been attending the usability tests that are being conducted on our Fantasy Commissioner setup process in San Francisco. I'll be doing a blog about this whole experience early next week. But suffice it to say that since these tests, I have been looking at our products in a whole new light.
So, today I went to set my lineup and was wondering is anyone uses the additional "lineup views" that I use so regularly. The lineup views are the little links on the upper right hand corner of your lineup on the Set Lineup page. For example, they say 'Schedule', 'Matchups', 'Yesterday', 'Last 7 Days', 'Last 14 Days', 'YTD Stats'. So, to answer my own question about the blog, accoriding to us, there are 6 ways to view your lineup.
But as I am analyzing this feature, there are a few things I need to consider. Is this feature useful? To me, it is really helpful when looking at my lineup and determining who to start or sit. It is a quick and easily consumable way to get information that I would normally have to go elsewhere for. It is one of the features I use most on the site. But is it useful to our users?
How could it be more useful? What other pieces of data could be incorporated? Is the existing data useful? For instance, I don't think the Matchups are necessarily as useful as the stats themselves. But to someone else they might be. I can think of a few things I'd like to see here, but this feature isn't specifically for me. It's for our users.
Can our users find this feature? Or is it too hidden? An issue that comes up here quite often is the fact that we are not sure if a feature is not being heavily consumed because it is not a compelling feature or is it because the users do not know it is there. People who have been using our site for years can probably find their way through the site pretty well just because they have been doing it for so long. But since the Lineup Views are sort of not in the standard navigation, the hunch is that they tend to get lost in the shuffle. That they get ignored by users because they aren't necessarily in a logical place to look for them. So, have you seen them or have I alerted you to something that is new to you?
Anyway, I've posed some rhetorical questions here that we have to deal with, but if you want to respond with your thoughts about this feature, feel free to do so. In light of the initial information we've gotten from this usability test, I have a feeling I'll be posing a lot more questions to the community to help me get some insights and your thought about some of the changes we're kicking around.
Posted on: April 15, 2009 10:17 am
I tend to trust people until they can no longer be trusted. This goes for individuals as well as groups of people. I buy into the theory of "The Wisdom of Crowds ". Because of this belief, my favorite feature of our site is the Roster Trends (Stats/Roster Trends for those of you following along at home) area. It used to be that you had to scour the boxscores each day to see who was playing well and who wasn't. Roster Trends changed all of that. Now there is a place where I can come to quickly gauge what is going on in the Fantasy Baseball world.
First, I'll usually check out 'Most Viewed Free Agents' to see if there is anyone that is worth a pickup in my league. Then, as I dig a little deeper, I check out the 'Most Added and Dropped'. When I am making lineup decisions, I'll check out 'Most Activated/De-Activated Owned' players to see if there are any red flags I should be concerned about. Finally, the 'Most Traded' is probably the most engaging part of the site because I can see what the open market value of my players is. I am always shocked as I dig down and see some of the trades that get made on this site. I never seem to be able to pull off those kinds of trades. For instance, I'm checking out the Most Traded area right now and I am looking to see what Brandon Morrow is going for. I see a trade in an AL-only Commissioner league where Morrow, Gio Gonzalez, and Brandon Wood were traded for A-Rod and Papelbon. Really? If anyone in my league will give me A-Rod and Papelbon for Morrow and a couple of prospects, you know where to find me. Regardless, I can still look around that page for hours. Fascinating.
But I am becoming concerned that we as a group (the fantasy baseball players) are getting lazy. All too often, it seems that the Most Viewed players are players that have recent news posted about them by our content team. I guess it's like a chicken or the egg type philosophy. Is our content team doing a great job pointing out the hot players and we are reading up on them? Or do we, as a group, follow the hot players and our content team just happens to be writing about them? I'd love to think that EMack and the rest of the Fantasy Baseball experts on our site are so good that they just know what is going on all the time. But if that is the case, and they are driving the Roster Trends pages, then what do we need Roster Trends for? I could just as easily check out the Player News area to see what is going on.
Average Draft Position (ADP) is essentially the same type of number as what we see in the Roster Trends area. It is user-driven data. It takes all of the data from all of the drafts on our site and aggregates it so that it shows you what the average draft position for each player is. It's too early in the Baseball season to make any sense out of the Average Draft Position (ADP) numbers, but for Football what we saw was disturbing. The ADP for the top 5 QB, RB, and WR were as follows:
QB - Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer
RB - Ladanian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Brian Westbrook, Steven Jackson, Joseph Addai
WR - Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Reggie Wayne, Braylon Edwards, Larry Fitzgerald
Based on results from the season the top 5 of each based on how they actually performed:
QB - Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Kurt Warner, Aaron Rogers, Jay Cutler
RB - DeAngelo Williams, Michael Turner, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Thomas Jones
WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Roddy White
Granted there were some unforseen injuries involved, but still...only 1 from each position actually made it into the top 5. And just scouring the rest of the list, as a group, we weren't even close on most of rest of the guys.
I'll admit the the early results for Baseball in terms of ADP look a lot better. But as far as Roster Trends go, I went into my league for the last few days only to see that Marco Scutaro is the Most Added Free Agent, his ownership went up 33% this week. Yes, I am in a deep league, but still....Marco Scutaro? He's now owned in 44 percent of leagues. I'm not even sure he'd start on our company softball team.
Anyway, like I said, I love the Roster Trends. But we, collectively, should be setting the trends not following them. Use the Roster Trends as a guide, not the law. Please! The fate of my Fantasy Baseball season lies in your hands.
Posted on: April 10, 2009 3:51 pm
I thought I'd let you all about a slight change we made to the live scoreboards in Fantasy Baseball last night. Up until last night, the scoreboards would show you every scoring category(assuming it scores live) your league uses. So for instance, if your league used the scoring category 'Hits' and a player went 2-3 with a single, a double and an RBI, it would show 2-3, 2H, 2B, RBI. And if your league used the scoring category 'Singles (1B)', it would show 2-3, 1B, 2B, RBI. We always got complaints that showing the 'H' or the '1B' was redundant and confusing. If a player is 2-3 it is already known that he had 2 hits. And further, if a player is 2-3 and one of those hits is a Double (2B), then it is assumed that the other hit was a single. Basically, we removed 'H' and '1B' from the stat lines so now, the line described above will be displayed in the traditional way of 2-3, 2B, RBI. I hope this doesn't cause any confusion.
Posted on: April 9, 2009 12:33 pm
Edited on: April 9, 2009 12:54 pm
Man, it is good to know you guys are alive! When things are going great on our site, as they have been for just about the whole Fantasy Baseball preseason into the regular season, nobody says a word. It is too quiet around here. We start to wonder, "Are they having a good time?" Sure, some users will write in to tell us we're doing a great job. But for the most part, if you are satisfied, you don't tend to chime in.
Well, it seems you have an opinion about the changes we made to the scoring system in Fantasy Baseball head to head leagues. And for the record, they are not all bad. We have actually gotten a lot of good feedback from users who are glad that we "cleaned up" what was a system that was littered with inconsistencies.
I have seen a lot of speculation on both the message boards and from our awesome customer support team (Kay T, I am talking about you here) as to why we might have made the change. So, allow me to explain why we felt a change was needed.
So, let me speak to each of these a little bit.
Regarding #1, if you couldn't tell from the initial description, streaming pitchers is not good for a bunch of reasons, but basically, it isn't Fantasy Baseball. It just becomes a simple numbers game. There is no fun or even skill in that. Secondly, it creates a really poor experience for people who are new to Fantasy Baseball. We want more people playing Fantasy Baseball. More people playing means you are all able to find more leagues to join, the competition keeps getting better, and the trash talking bar keeps getting set higher. When new users would come in and see what went on with the streaming of pitchers, they got turned off immediately.
Regarding #2, I think this has to do more with the evolution of Fantasy Baseball than anything else. Without getting into too much history here, I'll just explain that Fantasy Baseball started off as Rotisserie Baseball. So, it was not originally setup for head to head play. As Fantasy Football became more and more popular, people wanted a way to apply that way of playing to Fantasy Baseball. There was a time when we had less than 25% of our leagues playing head to head Fantasy Baseball. In the last 7 or 8 years we've now seen that number rise to almost 50%. While some thought went into it at the time, the original head to head scoring system was just a way to apply points for pitching and hitting much like was done for Fantasy Football. It was flawed. And to be honest, I can't believe this site or any other sites hadn't done a better job of adjusting their scoring systems accordingly.
Since that time, head to head Fantasy has taken off in Baseball and more and more people were clamoring that the scoring system just wasn't fair. In more ways than just the pitching categories. So, Eric Mack (Sr. Fantasy Baseball writer), Corey Guerrera (Product Manager), Frank O (aka, The Man), and I sat down and did some real analysis to try and come up with the most balanced system. And that doesn't just mean balancing Batters and Pitchers, it means coming up with a proportionate balance. You don't start the same number of Pitchers and Batters. They don't get to earn points for your team the same amount of times per week. And the amount of damage that a Pitcher can do to a team is far worse than the amount of damage a Batter can do to a team...proportionally. That all needed to be thought about on a holistic level. What we came up with is what we put on the site. And that is not to say that it is right. I think we'll have to look at what happens this year and perhaps tweak it again for next season.
But in terms of creating a system that is a reflection for how a particular player performs, I think we did a pretty good job with that. We received a lot of complaints about C.C. Sabathia' s first start. There was nothing positive about that start. He couldn't get out of the 4th inning, gave up 8 hits, 5 walks, and 6 earned runs...he didn't even strike ONE batter out. In Roto, your team takes a beating for that performance. He put his own team into a big hole, why shouldn't that reflect in Fantasy? Besides, -17 points isn't that bad of a penalty considering most fantasy baseball teams will score somewhere between 225-275 points per week. It is proportionate. Even after a 3 day sample size, I challenge you guys to go into your leagues and go to STATS, select ALL BATTERS and look at the YTD Points, and then look at ALL PITCHERS and do the same thing. I think you'll find it to be a fair assesment of how each player has performed so far this year. And we'll see how the season progresses. Maybe we'll be wrong and we'll look back and say it was a mistake. If that is the case, we'll correct it.
This all leads me to my point #3 above which was that we wanted to be the destination for people who wanted to beat the best in terms of competition. The system we've devised will create that. No more streaming pitchers and no more batters who hit a bunch of home runs, but don't get penalized for striking out 200 times. People will actually have to think about who will best contribute to their team based on talent and skill. That's what Fantasy Baseball is supposed to be about.
For the record, here is the scoring system: