LOOKING BACK: BaseballHQ, 2001-2005

As part of our week-long "Turning 20; Thanks to YOU" celebration, we asked one writer per day to take a look back at a 5-year era in BaseballHQ.com's history. The instructions for the writers: Click through available BaseballHQ.com articles on the online archive site The Wayback Machine, and share some of your impressions, memories, player tid-bits, signs of the time—whatever strikes you as interesting or notable about BHQ's time during the particular 5-year era. We'll explore these together this Monday through Thursday.

Today: Paul Petera with a look at 2001-2005. 

 

The early part of the millennium saw BaseballHQ.com, and our industry, grow and mature considerably.  I first met Ron Shandler in a restaurant in suburban Roanoke, Virginia in late 1997.  I could tell right away that he had a passion for what he did, and a vision for the growth and maturity that was to come.  I joined in 1998, started writing in 2001, and was fortunate to be along for the ride.

The decade had barely begun when the unthinkable happened on September 11, 2001. We are in many ways a dysfunctional and divided nation these days, but what happened that day in New York City, Washington and over Pennsylvania shook us, hurt us and brought us together.  It’s hard to believe that today’s 25-year-olds were just 10 at the time. Time marches on... When baseball resumed, Ron penned his article titled “What Now?"  It wasn’t often that BaseballHQ.com waded into topics other than fantasy baseball.  This time it was different. And necessary.

The goal of BaseballHQ has never been to spoon-feed projections to our customers. I think it has been the primary reason for our success, and a differentiator.

Whether it was statistical research, our think tank, new measurements, objectively looking at our industry or evolving our game, BaseballHQ.com has spent years delving deeper into our craft and encouraging our readers to do the same.

In early 2003, Ron introduced the term “Fanalytics” to the fantasy world.  A week later, he wrote “Sodom and Gomorrah” – a response to the fantasy world’s response to “Fanalytics.”  Who ever said people are resistant to change?

In August of that year, Ron’s earnest essay, “Why Fantasy Football is Beating Our Pants Off” was one of the first to crack open the reasons why fantasy baseball was lagging in popularity to its counterpart.  

The following year, one of my favorite articles of Ron’s appeared.  “Of Fandom and Fantasy” talked about the four different types of people who follow baseball.  What fascinated me about this is that I’ve enjoyed games as all four types of fan—sometimes in the same game! It opened my eyes to why I love this game so much; there are so many ways for me to enjoy it.  And I’ve also wondered how many others are in the same boat.

Daily Fantasy Sports were still largely on the horizon, but having recognized the shorter attention spans of Americans (see the Fantasy Football article above), this period in BaseballHQ.com history included forays into new game formats.  2004 brought us “Rotisserie7”, while “Quint-Inning” made its debut a year later.  These “test and learn” experiments are just a couple of examples of the thought leadership present at BaseballHQ.com, and why it’s been such a pleasure to be here.

And what walk down memory lane would be complete without looking at players back in the day?

The Futures Hot Sheet with Deric McKamey on June 29, 2001 includes a trade of 18-year old Edwin Encarnacion (“the Reds may have gotten a steal”) and another injury to minor leaguer Josh Hamilton.  This was before Hamilton’s off-field issues forced him out of baseball, yet still offered a glimpse into his future injury woes.

In 2002, our Projections got a fresh new look.  It’s great to see an already-30-year-old Montreal Expo Bartolo Colon among the projections. I promise he was a lot thinner back then. And really, was Armando Benitez ever worth $26? I’ll hang up and listen.

This July 2005 Futures Hot Sheet with Rob Gordon is notable for Double-A up and comers Justin Verlander (“has dominated his first season as a professional), Cole Hamels (“If he can stay healthy, he may be the best lefty in the minors”), Ryan Zimmerman, James Loney, Hanley Ramirez and plenty others.

That same month, Jeremy Deloney covered the call-ups of Verlander (“he could become one of the game’s best pitchers"), Jeff Francoeur and Ryan Howard, among others.  It was noted that Howard had “incredible left-handed power”, but that his “plate coverage and marginal discipline will hamper his BA.” Sounds about right, as Howard has 374 HR, 1810 strikeouts and a .259 BA in his 13-year career.

Lastly, I had to include Dr. HQ Rick Wilton’s April 2005 Injury Update only because I swear I rostered EVERY SINGLE PLAYER ON THIS LIST at one point.

2001-2005 was an eventful time in our industry and in our game. Barry Bonds (4), Alex Rodriguez (2), Miguel Tejada (1) won seven of the 10 MVPs during the period—the height of PED use—and we watched the subsequent fallout from that.  We saw the insignificance of baseball when compared to world events, then the importance that baseball played in our healing from those events.  We saw the popularity of fantasy football dwarf that of baseball, and our efforts to diagnose and remedy that trend. Plus, we saw Jon Lieber win 20 in the show. How great was that?

 

Now, it's your turn: The entire set of BaseballHQ.com archives on The Wayback Machine can be found here. Not all of BHQ's history has been archived, and some years are more robust than others, but there is plenty of material to explore. Today, seek out your own favorite or notable pages from 2001-2005, and share those links with us all in the comments below. And you can "work ahead" if you like, but save more recent interesting links for subsequent articles this week. Most of all, have fun!


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.