I'm planning next year to serve as commissioner in a fantasy baseball league whose owners will include relatives, friends, colleagues and my brother-in-law Bill, a guy I sometimes feel bad for.
Not that his wife isn't great. My little sister is what our mom would call "a great gal."
But Bill - like me - gets hooked on gadgets and computer games sometimes, and my sister has demonstrated little patience for that.
A few years back, I bought Bill a pocket-sized electronic chess game whose beeping drove my sister absolutely insane. She has since forbidden him to play any form of online chess. Even my nieces Baylor and Ava, ages seven and five, tattle-tale on their dad when they catch him playing chess at home. (My strong sense is that Bill is winning his battle with regular visits to the family's local library in Boston's North End.)
It is strange to watch your sister become a wife and berate her husband for what appears to be a minor vice. I imagine my own wife's brothers know the feeling. But that's a different blog entry.
What I can't help thinking about when I envision next season's fantasy baseball league is how much trouble Bill, who isn't a fantasy sports player yet, might get into with his iPod Touch.
I know that when I started playing fantasy baseball, I refreshed my Yahoo! StatTracker every few minutes in the hopes of leap-frogging the competition.
It's just as well Bill isn't a big Boston Celtics fan.
I'm hearing today that ESPN and NBA Digital (an NBA-Turner Sports venture to jointly manage the NBA's digital assets, which include NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA League Pass, NBADLeague.com and WNBA.com) are pursuing a plan to become the destination of choice for association fans who are fantasy players.
The new product will be called "ESPN NBA.com Fantasy Basketball."
ESPN knows what it's doing in this area. Last year's product led to a record-setting season for the free commissioner-style fantasy game on ESPN.com, with nearly 40 times the growth in participation from the previous season.
The new collaboration, the companies tell us, means that fantasy sports players on two of the leading NBA destinations online will now have a single, integrated game and access to the very best fantasy basketball content online and on mobile devices.
Here's what John Kosner, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Digital Media, had to say: "Working together with NBA Digital on ESPN NBA.com Fantasy Basketball builds upon the great, multi-faceted relationship we have with the NBA and will provide fans with the very best fantasy basketball game and content available. Fans will benefit this season and in seasons ahead from new innovations and an enhanced interactive experience, while advertisers will get more value than ever before from their connection to a best-of-breed multi-platform game and content experience."
The game is available now on NBA.com and ESPN.com and on ESPN and NBA mobile Web sites.
As you'd expect, participants will be able to manage their teams with the latest information on their players, check scores and set their lineups
- Integrated access to all the leading NBA Digital and ESPN Fantasy news, analysis and information including video, podcasts, columns, and features;
- NBA TV and ESPN studio personalities competing in the game throughout the season;
- Mobile companions allowing team management through the ESPN and NBA mobile Web sites, as well as a downloadable Draft Kit mobile application developed by ESPN;
- A co-branded and cohesive marketing campaign featuring 2008 Olympic Gold Medalists Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic) and Deron Williams (Utah Jazz), three-time NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas (Washington Wizards), and reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls).
It's amazing how quickly the fantasy sports market has risen, and nobody doubts that technology - faster Internet speeds, mobile devices, social networking sites - is the driving force behind that growth.
Just try and explain that to my little sister, though. Sorry, Bill.