Thursday, April 12, 2007

ESPN FANTASY BASEBALL MELTDOWN-UPDATED VERSION

Life has not been good at ESPN.com in recent days with millions of people who play in its fantasy baseball leagues in a state of confusion and the mega Web Site clamoring for answers to software problems.
Frustrating and disappointed is the only word to describe what has transpired at ESPN.com if you belong to a fantasy baseball league on that Web site like I do.
This past week the site has had problems updating waiver picks, updating roster changes and updating scoring stats. When it first started happening, team owners tried to communicate the problems to ESPN officials but no answers were immediately forthcoming.
Finally ESPN had no other recourse than to respond.
As of 8:01 a.m. this morning (Thursday), the system was back on line and apparently back in working order. ESPN shut down its fantasy baseball site for 12 hours (8 p.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday) to reboot the system and correct the software problems.
The past few days John Kosner, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN.com, has placed "open letters" on the fantasy baseball main site and each league's site apologizing for the snafu. There was also an apology for not communicating quickly enough with team owners about the problems.
After many system tests the only recourse ESPN had was to reboot its entire fantasy baseball site (fantasy basketball, hockey and NASCAR haven't been affected).
On Wednesday ESPN put notices on the baseball and individual league sites to inform everyone that from 8 p.m. on Wednesday to 8 a.m. on Thursday the system would be under construction "to get the game back on track and ensure the integrity of the season."
All teams have been reverted to their opening day rosters (April 1); ESPN set the starting lineup of each team's opening day roster as the active roster for all games played to date (April 1-11); retroactively applied scoring for the entire season to date based on that roster; and voided all transactions to date including trades, waiver pickups and roster moves.
With the reboot complete, all players not on a roster in each league have been placed on waivers for a 24-hour period. The waiver order for each league was restored to where it was on opening day.
The statement released by ESPN on Wednesday closed by saying "We have been working around the clock to fix the problems we are having to make the fantasy season the best it can be. We appreciate your patience."
So here we go, back to square one.
You can be sure ESPN will be on top of this to prevent it from happening again. And I'm sure all the other Web sites that offer fantasy sports leagues and fantasy league management programs have taken notice and are re-checking their systems.
But the scary thing is if it happened once, it could happen again.
As a way to compensate the team owners in each league and try to keep their patronage, ESPN has announced all baseball team owners will have free access to its Fantasy Baseball Insider subscription service that offers indepth fantasy information and advice. It will also allow baseball team owners a chance to join a fantasy football league for free this fall.
Fortunately this happened early in the season and hopefully will stay fixed through September. However, you've got to feel for team owners who were able to pick up hot players off the waivers but had to lose them back to the waiver wire process when the system came back on line.
I've talked to several fantasy baseball team owners in leagues on ESPN and they aren't happy.
Are you in a fantasy baseball league on ESPN? What were some of the problems you experienced? What's your take on starting the season from scratch?

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