ESPN’s 2007 Fantasy Baseball Season Starts Out With Nightmare; Foes Gloat As Site Retools


We’re a little late to this — not that ESPN’s competitors didn’t make sure we were informed — but didn’t want to let it slide … While MLB was suffering one of the oddest starts to a season in recent memory with multiple games wiped out by snow in April, ESPN Fantasy Baseball was going through its own bad start for its first free season — one ultimately resolved by resetting all of the rosters. As John Kosner, SVP, explains it, the problems started with the introduction of a new transaction engine built in house specifically for free fantasy baseball. The first glitches — players couldn’t make trades or change lineups — appeared to affect only a handful; by April 6 the bugs “had compromised multiple leagues” and “it was no longer something that could be managed and figured out quietly.” ESPN went to work around the clock to fix the transaction engine. They also decided the only solution was to completely re-set the whole game on April 12 to opening day rosters, void all transactions and retroactively apply scoring. Kosner said the only thing he can think of that’s more complicated than the baseball transaction engine, which covers 180 games, is online banking. It’s especially difficult to fix the bugs while transactions are ongoing.

— Keenly aware of the impact negative vibes could have on its fantasy rep and other fantasy games, including major moneymaker Fantasy Football, ESPN offered a batch of freebies including a premium football league this fall, six months added to ESPN Insider subs and a full refund to anyone who paid for premium baseball leagues. Kosner knows it’s just a start: “None of this is ideal. We have plenty of work to do to make our fans happy.” Recurring problems during the season would be a different matter. When we spoke late Friday, he hoped that getting through the weekend would be a good start. Some people were still complaining Sunday. One sample: “I’m working to (sic) hard for this “free” league.

Others make a play: Yahoo Sports extended its registration and sent out an alert announcing that “disenfranchised” players were welcome to move to Yahoo, where they could use a retroactive scoring tool.

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