Rotisserie and fantasy baseball players, hard-core baseball nuts, and other so-called “get-a-lifers” will be firmly planted in front of their television sets Tuesday night, March 29.
The reason? The first-ever TV show exclusively devoted to Rotisserie baseball will run on cable systems from 10 p.m. to midnight on a pay-per-view basis.
ESPN Baseball Tonight’s Great Rotisserie Pay-Per-View Special is a joint production and distribution venture between ESPN and Tim Warner Sports.
“To my knowledge, there’s never been another TV show like this, let alone a pay-per-view show,” said Lou DiBella, senior vice president of programming and business affairs for Time-Warner Sports.
The suggested price of this PPV package is $19.95 per household.
DiBella hatched the idea for the show last year and presented it over lunch to Dick Glover, senior vice president of ESPN enterprises. By the end of lunch, both were genuinely excited about it.
“What makes this program unique will be the emphasis on detailed statistical data and analysis specifically for Rotisserie players,” Glover said.
That data and analysis will be provided by a Who’s Who panel of Rotisserie experts:
Glenn Waggoner, co-founder of the Rotisserie League Baseball Association and editor of the RLBA Official Rulebook; Bill James, author of the Bill James Player Ratings Book ’94; Rod Beaton, USA Today baseball columnist; John Benson, author of The Benson Baseball Players Guide 1994; Alex Patton, author of Patton’s Player Profiles for Rotisserie Baseball; and Paul White, editor of USA Today Baseball Weekly.
The show’s hosts are ESPN2-ESPN sportscaster Keith Olbermann, and Peter Gammons, Boston Globe baseball columnist and ESPN baseball anchor.
Rotisserie, or fantasy baseball, has mushroomed in popularity since its inception in 1980, when Waggoner and nine fellow baseball nuts decided they could do as good a job as real Major League Baseball team ownerstheir own make-believe league.
That group of fantasy George Steinbrenners have been playing ever since, drafting fantasy team players at annual auction-type drafts and earning points based on the real baseball players’ performances in categories like batting average, homers, wins, and saves.
By the way, the name Rotisserie came from the name of the now-defunct Manhattan restaurant they were all eating at when they formed the league.
“Had we known what this would become, we’d all be millionaires by now,” said Steve Wulf, RLBA member since 1981 and staff writer for Sports Illustrated.
“We missed out on the money, but we’re happy so many people are interested in it and having fun playing it. I’ll be interested in seeing what the response to this (TV special) is from the public.”
The show is expected to be available to at least 2,500 cable systems nationwide, or 22 million addressable households.
“You either have a huge event like a big boxing match or something with great appeal to a minority of people for a pay-per-view event,” DiBella said. “I think this will be of great appeal to hard core players and casual fans alike.”
Besides the main portion of the show, the panel’s position-by-position analysis of the best and worst players in Major League Baseball, the show will also feature segments on the best minor league players and various theories for winning in fantasy leagues.
For more information about ordering the show, viewers should contact their local cable operators. – – –
Portland’s WPXT-TV (Channel 51) and WABI-TV (Channel 5) will televise the Class A state championship basketball games from Portland on Saturday, March 19 at 7 p.m.
WZON of Bangor (620 AM) will also air both games. – – –
SportsChannel New England will air last Saturday’s Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III New England Championship women’s basketball game between the University of Southern Maine and Middlebury on Sunday at 9:30 p.m.
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WVII-TV of Bangor (Channel 7) will broadcast a special titled “Teams With Dream” Monday at 7:30 p.m.
The half-hour program will feature game highlights, interviews, and other footage compiled while following three basketball teams through the tournament: the Calais girls, Schenck boys of East Millinocket, and Lawrence boys from Fairfield. – – –
WZON will air another hot stove league special Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. The main topics will include the Boston Red Sox and the upcoming start of the Major League Baseball season.