Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview: Todd Farino
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 Todd Farino, the founder of Fantasy
Baseball Search and the creator of our Expert League.
In your opinion, what makes you a fantasy expert?
(basically the polite way of asking – why should people listen to you?)
I don’t really like to call
myself an expert. I’ll leave that to the readers. I love to analyze
baseball from a strategy POV. I think the reason why I have success and
hopefully why people should listen to me is I don’t beat around the bush.
I tell it like it is. Some analysts won’t risk their reputation on tough
calls, but I will. I have a history of winning, playing tough
competitors, and backing up everything I say. If people want to take
advantage of skills that I have built over the past 18+ years the more to
them. I still feel I have alot of growth left to do and I’m constantly
revising my strategies every season. The key to winning is to stay
ahead of everyone else. I do that the pretty well so far and I don’t
succumb to the pressures of the industry. I’m very raw in that sense.
In addition to the traditional columns
and blogs, what is it that your website does? Specifically,
what is the “search” aspect?
The search aspect was created
years ago when Google and Yahoo weren’t as refined as they are today.
Currently, we only allow fantasy baseball sites oriented into our index.
The bonus is, we give the site an initial rating based on certain parameters,
then we allow the users to rate the sites based on their own experience.
We also will update our ranking at the sites request. We also focus on
customer service. We enjoy chatting with the customers, so I try to do as
much as I can to interact with fellow fantasy baseball fans.
How many years have you been playing fantasy?
I’ve been playing fantasy
baseball since 1991-92. Back then me and my friends Aaron and Rusty
carried around a purple spiral notebook with all the point totals for everyday
of the season. Eventually I wrote a MS Basic program to tabulate the
totals, but data entry wasn’t any easier. It was fun to play, but the
internet has definitely made it easier. Nobody with a sane head could
play in more than one league before the internet.
How many years have you been writing?
I’ve been writing fantasy sports
for about 3 years now. I’ve been actually writing since high school for
the newspaper and as well as a reporter at UNLV while I was in college.
I’ve written lots of other stuff as well. So you can say I’ve written off
and on for about 18 years.
How did you get your start?
My start in fantasy sports was
simple. I ran a web design company that I started in college and decided
to launch a search engine for fantasy football and baseball. Back in 2003
the search engines were really bad about clarifying what was fantasy sports and
what was porn.
What made you want to get into the industry?
At first I wasn’t that
interested in getting into the industry, but fantasy sports is the wild west of
sports right now. Nobody really has a firm grip on it, so I threw my hat
in with the hopes that when the dust settles I’ll find success. So far it’s
going pretty good.
What advice would you have specific for people
who want to break into the industry?
If you want to break into the
industry, stick to your guns and what made you successful. Don’t change
anything just because someone says negative things about
your advice. Once you change, you’ve sold out like many of the
fantasy baseball guys out there.
Speaking from a programmer’s perspective, do you think
there are further technical innovations coming to the fantasy industry or are
the commissioner programs as good as they are going to get?
I think there are big strides
that can be made in fantasy programming. There is so much that can be
done with player stats that the commissioner programs haven’t even gotten into
yet. Yahoo! does some good things and so does CBS, but neither has
perfected it. I think the job will be done when all the users stop
saying, I wish I could do this.
What would you like to see improved?
I’d like to see the all around
format improved. For example in CBS, I’d like to see who my lineup is
facing each day. I’d like to know probable pitchers, and I like split
stats to be worked into the overall stats. Now if they can only force
teams to accept bad trades the work would be done.
I’d also love to see league
systems have the programming capability to allow managers to swap out injured
players during the game just like it would happen in real life. As
long as both players were still playing that day, you designate backups for
your starters and if they go down, your guy goes in. That is something
that needs to happen. Roster changes on the fly. Same thing if
players sit, but you don’t get to your lineup in time. Have a designated
back up to start.
Time for a round of favorites. Team?
My favorite team since 1989 has
been the Boston Red Sox. Before then I followed Fred Lynn around.
Growing up, my favorite player
was Fred Lynn. I don’t really have a
favorite active player, but if I did I’d say David Ortiz or Jon Lester.
My favorite fantasy moment was
beating my brother Chris Farino (www.profantasybaseball.com) for the first time in 2006 in his
own PROFESSIONAL league. He always had my number and as an expert
himself he is quite the challenge. He hasn’t beaten me at baseball since.
Who is your single favorite fantasy
writer at a site other than your own?
Right now I love Scott Engel from
Rotoexperts.com. I swear we are lost brothers from a bad
hospital. His philosophies and style are nearly identical to me, so I
love reading his work.
What advice would you have for
people who are playing in their first season?
Read my fantasy baseball bible
It gives you a heads up if you are new to fantasy baseball.
Do you enjoy fantasy sports more or less
since you entered the industry (as opposed to when you just played them)?
I have to admit that I enjoy it
less. There is a pressure to do well and sometimes playing great just
isn’t in my control. I find myself far more frustrated when I have a bad
week then I use too.
Do you enjoy sports more or less?
I love sports just the same as I
use too. Sports is one of the most important aspects of my life. I
don’t know where I’d be without it. My family comes first, but sports is
right behind. I’m the guy at the wedding checking scores on my
Iphone. My family understands and accepts it!
Do you enjoy podcasting more than
writing? You seem to have a good time on the air.
Podcasting is a ton of
fun. I can’t say I love it more than my closer report, but I do love
it. My passion for fantasy baseball is strategy, so I get to scream about
that for a couple of hours a week on the podcast. The writing is great as
well. Right now I’m focused on building the most complete
closer report on the web and so far I’m doing that. Check out www.thecloserreport.com.
Both are a joy, but the real kick is talking to the listeners in the chat room
or answering emails about closers. Its always a joy to talk
baseball. Frankly, I wouldn’t have met my hero Cory Schwartz and you
Toby if I didn’t do the podcast, so it also helps create strong
You are the commissioner of our
league. Do you think there is any extra challenge in being a commissioner
in an expert league as opposed to a home league?
Not at all. In an
expert league there is really no work at all. As you can see the league is
fun and quiet. Experts don’t talk much, but they are very active
with their teams. Regular leagues talk more and that can lead to
hurt egos, plus you have more bad trades and problems. Overall,
there is no need for a commissioner in a expert league. At least
mine. However, if you don’t stop winning, I’ll have to pull out the
“rookie can’t win” clause and take away wins. Back off
Mergler, maybe next year.
Thanks to Todd for taking the time to answer these questions. On a quick programming note, I’ll be taking
Memorial Day off and will be back with Marry, Bury, Date on Tuesday. Have a great holiday weekend everyone.