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MLB.com wrote:A New tradition Is Born
Fantasy Opening Day brings new games, new rivalries
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
"It's all about the bragging rights."
"I play to win this game. Plain and simple."
"My first time playing ... hope I do good at it."
Welcome to the first-ever Fantasy Opening Day at MLB.com.
This day-long celebration officially began -- and launched an annual tradition -- at 12:01 a.m. ET. On Fantasy Opening Day, MLB.com and its licensed Fantasy partners unveil their new 2005 games, league drafts will begin, experts will have their say and people like you will take that first step toward their own championship seasons.
This pastime-within-the-pastime is the dawn of a new era in Fantasy baseball, which began when a group of men gathered at the now-defunct La Rotisserie Francaise restaurant in New York to create the rules for their own little paper league, then known as Rotisserie baseball.
Look around a quarter-century later. Someone is drafting an Albert Pujols or a Carlos Beltran or a Vlad Guerrero right now. Someone is determined to make even better transactions than last summer. Someone is on the way to a league title and a lot of bragging rights.
It's Fantasy Opening Day.
"An official Fantasy Opening Day is just the first step in significantly raising the visibility and expanding the Fantasy baseball industry over the next few years," said Gregg Klayman, manager of Fantasy and interactive games for Major League Baseball Advanced Media. "There are millions of baseball fans out there who have never played Fantasy, and our primary goal is to increase the number of fans who make Fantasy an integral part of the way they enjoy and follow the sport."
The long-term deal between Major League Baseball Advanced Media and the MLB Players Association means there are exciting and cutting-edge times ahead for Fantasy enthusiasts. Whether you join a league here or with one of MLB.com's licensed partners, you are part of this surging hobby.
MLB.com's day-long lineup of Fantasy fare includes:
# A live video Fantasy call-in show from noon to 2 p.m. ET with Mike Siano and Cory Schwartz. They will discuss the top sleepers and the top busts at each position and answer calls and e-mails from fans.
# Video Fantasy previews of all 30 teams.
# Fantasy tips from experts.
# A Fantasy 101 crash course, for all the newcomers.
# A look at the top Fantasy players of the past 25 years, and a look back at some classic Fantasy catastrophes.
# MLB.com's Fantasy Preview 2005: Our fourth annual draft guide, which includes position-by-position rankings, more than 800 player bios and printable draft tools.
Fans can begin drafting their teams today in MLB.com's two new games.
Ultimate Salary Cap Baseball. Any fan can play the role of a Major League general manager. Assemble your own squad of 14 big-league stars while staying within the constraints of a $50 million budget. That means if you want to have new Yankees pitchers Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano on your team, it's probably going to cost you a pretty penny. Fans will be competing for more than $100,000 in total cash prizes.
Fantasy Baseball Commissioner. If you want to run your own roto league or join a public or private league, then this is the way to go. Customize your league based on your own rules, and participate in live drafts online. Fantasy Baseball Commissioner will also feature easy-to-use navigation, insider news/analysis and improved real-time stats. The top team in each league will take home $125 in cash.
Major League Baseball's traditional Opening Day festivities are just around the corner, and kick off with a Red Sox-Yankees ALCS rematch on April 3. For now, there is a new Opening Day to get the juices flowing, and to inspire bold statements like this one from 24-year-old Eric Galvez:
"This is actually my first time playing Fantasy baseball. I am really excited about playing it with all my friends and destroying them this year."
Let the destruction begin.
It's Fantasy Opening Day.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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