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Fredericton fantasy baseball league all about camaraderie, bragging rights | CBC News

Bob MacMullen is already doing research into what players will best fit his team with the start of the Major League Baseball season less than a month away.

It’s painstaking work to put together a fantasy baseball team. But a group of friends in Fredericton have been doing it for decades. 

“It’s difficult … it really makes for some interesting choices when it comes down to putting the team on a piece of paper,” said MacMullen. 

The rules are simple. People in the league get to choose one player from every team in the MLB, taking into consideration each roster position. Then they just sit back and relax, possibly with an adult beverage in hand, as they watch the real players they chose take the field to play out the season. 

Whichever team accumulates the best stats on the season wins a cash prize. 

MacMullen started the league with the late Andy Scott in 1988.

The league was very hands on at first. Everyone would meet and make roster moves together.

But the group decided it was too much work. They moved to the current version of the league a few years later. 

Back then there were only about 15 people in the league. Now there are as many as 90.

MacMullen said there are people in the league from all over the country and “a lot of people I certainly don’t even know.”

Four men each holding out a baseball.
Andrew Holland, left, and Bruce Hallihan are long-time members of the fantasy baseball league in Fredericton. (Bruce Hallihan)

Times have changed

Bruce Hallihan had a distinct advantage when he joined MacMullen’s league. He was covering sports for the Daily Gleaner and had easy access to important information.

“I guess with my role as doing sports for a living for 34-plus years, I had to stay on top of everything,” said Hallihan. 

Hallihan joined near the beginning of the league and has won a few times. 

But technology has advanced to a point where every piece of information is available on a person’s phone, and fantasy baseball websites have become popular. Hallihan no longer has an advantage.

“I guess I have to try something new to take the edge back,” said Hallihan. 

In the early days, MacMullen would spend hours looking at every team’s stats in the newspaper and copying them down. Now, he can just plug it into a spreadsheet. It’s part of what he likes about the league. 

“I’ve always sort of been a numbers guy, not necessarily a stats guy,” said MacMullen.

A Toronto Blue Jays player takes the field in Minnesota during the first inning in Game 2 of the wild card playoff series against the Twins on Oct. 4, 2023.
As players get ready for the start of the actual baseball season, fantasy baseball managers are deciding what players they may want on their roster. (David Berding/Getty Images/Images)

Good-natured competition 

MacMullen has won the league before, but he says it’s been a while. Everyone puts in $50, with the cash going to the top teams. While the prize money is nice, MacMullen says bragging rights are much more valuable. 

He said with social media and email “you can kind of stir the pot with a bunch of guys who have been in the pool for quite a while.”

“Other times it’s better to lay pretty low and not say too much,” he said.

Hallihan certainly enjoys the camaraderie, but he also says it makes watching sports a bit more interesting. He can cheer for a player or team he otherwise wouldn’t really care about. 

“I just enjoy that it keeps it interesting the whole season,” he said.


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