Here's the Scoop: December 14, 2011

Farm out idea
I may be rushing things a bit, but I am counting down the time until the “days start getting longer.” It’s eight by the time this paper hits the street.

Nothing against winter; I have chosen to live in the northeast, so I accept the inevitabilities of the season. Still, I like to consider winter as just an annoying bump in the road as we count down to…Spring Training!

My fascination with Fantasy Baseball has been mentioned on a number of occasions in this column. Some (poor, unfortunate souls) dismiss Fantasy Baseball as just a weird pastime engaged in by nerds. They are right, of course. For the people who feel this way, I have two words for you: Lindy Hinkelman.

The name may not ring any immediate bells, so I’ll give you a clue: Lindy is a pig farmer in Idaho. Still nothing?

OK, at the end of the 2011 season, Lindy had captured his second National Fantasy Baseball Championship in the past three years. Now, I’m sure the name is familiar? Or not.
Before you dismiss Lindy as just a nerdy pig farmer, I think it should be noted that Lindy has earned more than $300,000 for his Fantasy Baseball efforts.

Big payback
My research shows that last year, 390 players each paid a $1,400 entry fee to compete in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. I can tell you that our local league has nowhere near the type of prize money featured in that competition.

In fact, if I remember correctly, there’s no prize money involved (as we are sworn to tell spouses at the season-ending party). I’m pretty sure we are also taught to recite that we are simply nerds and merely compete for bragging rights — plus the chance to earn a cute little Bobble Head doll that quaintly, yet powerfully, broadcasts a first-place league finish.

The league in which Lindy plays has many heavy-hitting opponents. He’s not sure of the reason for his success, but thinks his profession may pay a role.

A natural fit
“Raising pigs and this baseball thing really go together,” he said. “There are certain things in farming: keeping track of productivity, indexes for your sows, the genetic lines there. To do well, you’ve got to be pretty proficient in numbers,” Lindy told a New York Times writer who profiled him.
I’d certainly like to improve on some of my Fantasy Baseball efforts, but I don’t know if getting involved with pig farming would hold much appeal for me.

Still, I know what Lindy means when he told the Times, “These guys (players are your Fantasy team) are like personal friends to you, even though you don’t know them.”
Well, I guess they’re friends when they hit 40 home runs or win 20 games and strike out 250 batters.

On the other hand, I spent last season with a roster full of guys who couldn’t hit the ball out of the pork and ran bases like they were waddling in the mud. As you can probably tell, they didn’t bring home the bacon for me. But, I guess there’s no use swining - I mean whining - over this lost campaign.
— Brian Sweeney