Opening Day in Major League Baseball occurred on Wednesday this week when Seattle faced Oakland for the first of a two-game set in Japan. My days of fantasy baseball are long gone but I'd imagine that leagues made provisions to include or exclude the series while Spring Training continues for the other 28 teams.
If you play fantasy baseball, you're familiar with the offseason agenda. Trades, free-agent signings, the Winter Meetings and the Rule 5 draft bridge you into the holidays. In the new year, plum free agents are daily conversation pieces until signed. At some point around Valentine's Day, you start thinking about picking up your fantasy magazine and eyeing what Rotoworld is offering for in-season content. You and your boys schedule a draft, and you're off. It's a lengthy ritual that allows for proper closure of the previous season and preparation for the next.
Now imagine if the previous MLB season ended in mid-March.
Thanks to the PGA TOUR's new qualifying process, the offseason between the 2013 schedule and the 2013-14 campaign could last -- you're not ready for this, and neither am I -- 10 days.
It's modeled after the old wraparound schedule on the European Tour. It's necessary because the PGA TOUR wants a September conclusion to its season and there are only so many weeks in the first nine months of the year. It's a great problem to have (if it's a problem at all), but it's a nightmare for fantasy gamers.
While some formats end their season at the PGA Championship, most extend through THE TOUR Championship. If those same games are going to include the fall events in 2013 for the following season -- and they probably should, especially since the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China will be an official-money stop -- there might not be enough days in between schedules for full-season leagues to properly prepare. And there's little gamers will be able to do about it, as timing will be critical.
While the 30 that qualify for the finale at East Lake will be set one or two weeks prior (at the conclusion of the third leg of the FedExCup Playoffs), and they are going to possess carte-blanche status on TOUR the following season (meaning gamers won't need to wait out the results of the finale to assign draft value), the new three-event conduit to establish the 50 qualifiers will be contested concurrently.
Conventional wisdom places the last of the three tournaments during a dark week in the Playoffs, but official scheduling hasn't been released. Therein lies the problem.
By association, the timing of the new qualifying process throws a major wrench into our annual timetable for turnover. For games like my 19-year-old rotisserie league that go 160 deep, our prep will begin before the Playoffs instead of the usual two months thereafter.
Furthermore, many leagues use the final results of the season as triggers to determine lottery odds, draft order, number of keepers and salary values. Therefore, as much of a grind it will be following the conclusion of the 2013 schedule, it's going to be necessary.
Gamers will be wise to set a working ranking for value and then quickly plug in the 50 qualifiers. Gone are the days of pouring over bios of Nationwide Tour and Q School grads, and then sliding guys in organically.
Needless to say, this is a time to embrace change and go with the flow. At least we have 18 months notice.