FANTASY FOOTBALL FOLLIES

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
 Weirs Times Columnist

Last week the New York Times reported that an employee at DraftKings, one of the two major football fantasy companies, admitted to inadvertently releasing data before the start of the third week of NFL games. The employee, a midlevel content manager, won $350,000 at a rival site, FanDuel, that same week.

Allegations of “insider trading” abounded.

My first reaction concerned the nature of the private intelligence. In this information age, it’s nearly impossible to keep anything secret. But the issue involved knowledge of how many participants were using certain players, which could give a strategic edge to a few insiders in terms of selecting the most advantageous lineups.

The two companies issued a joint statement indicating that they planned to take necessary actions to maintain the integrity of the fantasy competition, which involves fans slating real players from different teams on a personalized lineup. If the selected players perform, then the lucky fan can win serious money. It all combines to make the NFL games very compelling to watch, especially if one could win hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.

The Times reported that Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and Bob Kraft of the Patriots have stakes in DraftKings, which recently struck a three-year deal with the NFL to become a partner of the league’s International Series in Britain, where sports betting is legal. In addition, DraftKings has tapped hundreds of millions of dollars from Fox Sports, and FanDuel has raised similar amounts from investors like Comcast, NBC and KKR.

So with big bucks, big business, and big media involved here, it was inevitable that the usual suspects—those who want to tax the Internet—would soon be calling for laws and a new bureaucracy to regulate football fans’ fun.

I say give the companies opportunities to set some policies in place that ensure fair competition. Let them be transparent and forthcoming about every aspect of their operation. If there’s anything shady going on at one company, it will soon be exposed, which will benefit rival companies. That’s why competition is so great. This is still a free country with consumer choices.

“We don’t need no stinkin’ regulators!”

(Insider Sport-Thoughts “Fantasy Tip-of-the-Week”— go with Eli Manning during Week 6!)

CUBS!

As this is written, Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs are still involved with their arch-rival St. Louis Cardinals in a National League Divisional Series. While it’s hard for New Englanders to directly relate to a midwestern, National League rivalry, Cubs vs. Cards is an historic rivalry quite similar to Red Sox vs. Yankees. The Cubs play in an ancient edifice and haven’t won a World Series since 1908, while the Cardinals have won more titles than any other team in the league.

The Curse of the Billy Goat is a sports-related curse that was placed on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game against the Detroit Tigers at the Cubs’ home ballpark of Wrigley Field because his pet goat’s odor was bothering other fans. He was outraged and declared, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” which has been interpreted to mean that there would never be another World Series game won at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have not won a National League pennant since this incident and have not won a World Series since 1908.
The Curse of the Billy Goat is a sports-related curse that was placed on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game against the Detroit Tigers at the Cubs’ home ballpark of Wrigley Field because his pet goat’s odor was bothering other fans. He was outraged and declared, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” which has been interpreted to mean that there would never be another World Series game won at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have not won a National League pennant since this incident and have not won a World Series since 1908.

Cast your minds back to 2003. It briefly looked like the Cubs and Red Sox would make the World Series, where one of these star-crossed franchises would HAVE to win. But Bartman (Steve) and Boone (Aaron) respectively doomed each team to defeat.

The Red Sox broke the “Curse of the Bambino” the next year (2004). By the time you read this, we’ll know if 2015 MIGHT be the year the Cubs break the “Curse of the Billy Goat.”

MORE ON UNIFORMS

Alert reader Bill Lamb shared some more info on the issue of baseball managers wearing suits as opposed to uniforms.

“In addition to the Philadelphia A’s Connie Mack, notice should be taken of Burt Shotton who managed the Brooklyn Dodgers to National League pennants in 1947 and 1949. Like Mack, Shotton managed in street clothes, although he sometimes also wore a Dodgers jacket and cap. Interestingly, Mack and Shotton managed their last major league game on the same exact day: October 1, 1950. BTW, there is little prospect that Joe Girardi or any other MLB skipper will be making pitching changes while clad in suit and tie. At least since the early 20th century, non-uniformed managers have never been permitted on the field during games. In the cases of Mack and Shotton, they never left the dugout during games, with pitching changes, arguments with umpires, and other on-field business always being conducted by the team’s player-captain or a coach in uniform. Again, my compliments on another thought-provoking column and best wishes.”

Sports Quiz

Name the pitcher who started three World Series games (all victories) for a team that lost a World Series in seven games. (Answer follows)

Born Today …

That is to say, sports standouts born on Oct. 15 include 19th Century heavyweight boxing champion John L Sullivan (1858) and Hall of Fame Baltimore Oriole pitcher Jim Palmer (1945).

Sportsquote

“I don’t think God cares a whole lot about game outcomes. He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.” – Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Sportsquiz Answer

Luis Tiant won Games 1 and 4 for the Red Sox against the Cincinnati Reds in the 1975 World Series. He started Game 6 as well, which the Red Sox won in extra innings on that Carlton Fisk home run.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and for NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.