Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview: Mike Kuchera

Kuchera.jpg

Welcome
back to the newest installment in our series of interviews aimed at giving
readers insight into the minds and backgrounds of those fantasy writers and
pundits who have reached the level of “expert.” It seems there
has been an explosion in the number of people claiming the title in the last
few years, but no one seems to know where they come from. These interviews
aim to change all that, while also giving aspiring “experts” (such as
myself) some advice on both how to break into the industry and ways to improve
your fantasy skills.

Our guest this week is Mike Kuchera, podcast pioneer and
founder of The Fantasy Man.

 

In
your opinion, what makes you a fantasy expert? (basically the polite way of
asking – why should people listen to you?)
 

I’m just a guy that loves fantasy sports. Its not like I have a Bachelor’s
degree in Fantasy Sports or a minor in Stat-o-nomics. No such thing. I was one
of the first to put myself out there on the Internet as someone who was
knowledgeable and someone who could help beginners and even some
experienced players win their leagues. From that, people started to recognize
me as an expert. I did not give myself that title. When I started, I just
wanted to be the first guy to offer free advice and talk about fantasy sports,
and it just grew from there.
 

How many years have
you been playing fantasy?

 

Been playing Fantasy Sports for about 14 years….
everything from baseball and football to golf and racing.

How many years have you been writing?

 

I have been writing about fantasy baseball and football for
4 years and I am a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

What made you want to get into the
industry?

 

A passion, love and addiction to winning fantasy sports
leagues.

 

How did you get your
start?

 

FantasyManShowPic.jpg

I was the first to record and upload a fantasy baseball
podcast on iTunes in early January 2006. From the instant success of the
podcast came the first website and it exploded from there. I never had to write
for anyone or try to depend on others in the business to expose me. I created
my own exposure and marketed myself.

 

Since you were an
early adapter to podcasting, you have any predictions for what will be the next
big thing in fantasy sports?

 

I think we will start to see more “live” action
when it comes to fantasy advice. When I started, it was…..have a question?
Okay, email me. Then I’d respond within a few hours with an intelligent answer
for free. Still do. In the future, I think you will see more live-ready fantasy
advice. Click a button, ask your question and BAM! You get instant fantasy
advice. I’m already working on something……

 

What advice
would you have specific for people who want to break into the
industry?

Be on top of your game but do it for you. Why be the newbie and write
articles for a huge site that doesn’t pay you when you can create your own site
and pay yourself?  Everything I have done was self taught. I marketed
and promoted myself and have become a master at it. You can do the same thing.
Don’t let someone at a million dollar website tell you the best way to break in
is to write articles for free to get your name out. You’ll be writing
articles for years and years at that pace. I bypassed all of that when I
started podcasting, but I also started podcasting before it became popular,
so I hit the market at the perfect time when I was the only guy out there
outside of the guys who were already in fantasy sports for years and
years.  The best approach….be proactive, get on the phone, go to the
fantasy sports conventions, go to Spring Training, go to the Arizona Fall
League and meet people face to face. Do what all the new
bloggers/”experts” aren’t doing. You can start your own website/blog,
do a podcast, Twitter, etc. to get your name out there. You’ll pick up
readers/listeners faster than you’d expect, but you have to stay on top of it,
stay current, and don’t give up when someone tries to knock you down….
because they will try.
 
Do you enjoy fantasy sports more or less
since you entered the industry (as opposed to when you just played them)?

Definitely more. It’s an addiction and being involved as a part-time business
forces me to do more research which in turn, helps me win more leagues. Winning
more leagues = winning more money. I mean, that’s what fantasy sports is all
about right? Winning that championship and that cash prize!

 

Let’s play a quick
game of favorites.  Team?

 

Yankees

Joba Yankee.jpg

Player?

 

Favorite real player is Derek Jeter….. but Joba
Chamberlain is now a close second.  A-Rod is my favorite fantasy player!

 

Fantasy writer at a
site other than your own?

I don’t really have one. I don’t read anyone elses columns because I don’t want
that information to put biased thoughts in my head for when I create my own
content. However, if I had to pick one, I like the style of CBS’ Eric Mack who
I think we share a similar style.

Fantasy memory/moment?

All of 2007 when I played in 27 total leagues, won 9, finished 2nd-5th in 17
and finished last in 2 leagues which I tanked to rebuild for keepers (in which
I won both in 2008). I had many telling me I was nuts, but I wanted to set the
bar high!

 

Playing in 27 leagues
is a bit intense.  Do you find there is a law of diminishing returns in
playing in so many leagues or do you just love playing so much you want to do
it as much as possible?

 

Not at all. I commit a few hours a week to spend on each
team and I have no problems. What I try to do though is play in weekly
transaction leagues so I don’t have to check every team every day. If I am
finishing in 1st place in 33% of my leagues and 5th or above in 95% of my
leagues (when I did 27 leagues in 2007), thats a quality year.  Plus,
as the year goes on, it gets easier to manage. My advice…… if you are plan
on getting married next year, don’t play in 27 leagues!

In two sentences or
less, what’s your top fantasy tip for readers right now?

Be patient, give your team a chance to flow, and STAY ACTIVE! 
A-B-D….Always Be Dealin’!

 

You objected recently
to a trade made in our league.  In your opinion, how much deference should
be granted when evaluating a trade?  Does the level change if it’s an
expert league?

 

My opinion on trades is that assuming everyone is
trustworthy (meaning no signs of collusion), then every trade should be
granted. I am always under the assumption that if an owner is dumb enough to make
a ridiculous trade, then it’s his/her loss and kudos to the manager that pulled
it off. We all complain about unfair trades but its usually because we all have
different values on players. I look at certain players differently than you do.
It’s not different in an expert league. In fact, you’d think
“experts” would know better than to send ridiculous offers and make
unreasonable trades, but that’s usually far from the case. That’s why we have
quotation marks around “experts”.

 

At what point in the
season does a player’s current performance matter more to you then historical
performance or draft position when evaluating trades?

 

I’d say more towards the trade deadline because you want
guys who are performing now and who have been performing all year, but, at the
same time, name recognition always plays a part. No matter how bad a superstar
player is playing, that name is always valuable and always plays a big part in
trades. By the trade deadline though, I am not looking at draft position for
sure, but historical performance plays a part all season! Mark Teixeira is the
perfect example!

 

donkeykong.jpg

What advice would you
have for people who are playing in their first season?

 

Simple as this….. Don’t give up when your team is in the
gutter and only 1/4 of the season has passed. If you do your research
before the draft and you get to know the players and how/when they are
drafted, you’ll have a decent draft. You don’t even have to go crazy
crunching stats. It’s about having a good draft and knowing your leagues rules/guidelines.
Even if the draft goes poorly, you can usually recover with
solid in-season team management which includes timely waiver
wire add/drops, trades, and having a sense as to when players will get
hot/cold.

 

Thanks for your
time.  Before you go, any prediction for
our upcoming match-up?

 

It’s on like Donkey Kong!

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