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Pick of the Day: Rotisserie baseball--America's other pastime or one more time suck?

Most baseball fans love his time of year because spring training tends to tickle your optimism bone (unless, of course, you're a Pirates or Royals fan). But for fantasy baseball players, this is a truly special season because, well ... it's time to nerd out on the draft and try to figure out where to slot Stephen Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman on your starting-pitcher rankings. Sweet science, indeed.

Fantasy baseball isn't nearly as popular as fantasy football, but it still has a pretty massive following, and for that, you can thank (or curse, depending on your level of FBL addiction) Dan Okrent, the father of the fantasy game. Thirty years ago, Okrent launched the first fantasy baseball league -- though it was called rotisserie baseball then, because Okrent and his friends convened at a restaurant called La Rotisserie Fran├žaise.

On the occasion of the game's 30th anniversary, ESPN The Magazine has published an oral history of the game's creation (subscription required).

My favorite quote comes from Peter Gethers, one of the original rotisserie league owners, who says:

"I actually called Michael Pollet, who I didn't know well. He says, 'I can't really talk trade because I'm arguing in front of the Supreme Court in an hour.' Then I said, 'Yeah, but we are talking about Omar Moreno here! Sixty steals!!!' Then there was a pause. 'Hold on, maybe I have a few minutes.'"

If you've ever played the game and obsessed over managing a roster, this will resonate quite clearly with you. If not, it will probably seem absolutely ridiculous -- which it is.

I also found an old Steve Wulf piece on the original rotisserie baseball league in Sports Illustrated's archives, and there's no subscription required. Worth a read while you wait for your next pick to come up in the draft.

By J. Freedom du Lac  | March 12, 2010; 7:38 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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