SI's Facebook Fantasy

It's time for innovations in the way we play
August 03, 2008

A LOOK INTO the 32nd-floor office of associate editor David Sabino suggests the cliché workplace once associated with Internet start-ups—clutter, action figures, sushi, Fanta. At six feet four and 275 pounds, however, Sabino is a presence more along the lines of Jeremy Shockey or Prince Fielder than some wiseguy Web wizard. In a well-known story about Sabino, he was fact-checking an NBA story late one night in 1996 when he was approached by an assistant managing editor. "We want to rank every NBA player," the editor said, "and we need it by tomorrow morning. Can you do it?" Sabino said yes, and devised a formula to rank players based on weighted statistics. For every season preview issue since (including this one) he has tackled the daunting task of assigning a player value ranking (PVR) to every man in the NFL, the NBA and major league baseball. He also writes a weekly Web column and has contributed to every issue containing fantasy coverage, with one exception (Dec. 15, 2006), when he went to see Pearl Jam and U2 play together in Honolulu. Pass the Fanta.

In other words Sabino is perfectly suited to lead the overdue migration of fantasy players to a better place. Fantasy football has seen little innovation—either in where people play commissioner-style league games or in the nature of the games themselves. But with the explosive growth of social media sites such as Facebook, the way we consume and distribute information and communicate with each other, and the way we entertain ourselves, have been transformed. Sports is next. SI's idea is to deliver fantasy content in an intuitive format to where fans are now spending significant time—on Facebook. Fantasy and Facebook share common attributes that can open up the fantasy game experience: Both are inherently social, personal, rooted in communication and competition, and both can be a daily fixation. So SI and application developer Citizen Sports Network (known to many sports fans as the company behind Protrade.com) are launching Fantasy Football 2008 on Facebook, combining a muscular draft-and-manage fantasy football game with the social features and communication efficiencies that make Facebook so popular. When Facebook users search for Fantasy Football 2008 on Facebook, or when SI.com users go to SI.com/Fantasy2008, they will find a free commissioner-style game that includes a package of innovations you won't find elsewhere: live scoring; features like Easy Button, Smack Talk and Ask Your Friends; and fantasy research, analysis and real-time updates from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Rotowire and Protrade.

Which brings the conversation back to editor Sabino. Since that fateful night in '96, he has also been attacking fantasy sports as a player, including a five-year run in the RLBA, a.k.a. the original Rotisserie baseball league, with fantasy sports pioneer (and SI special contributor) Rob Fleder. Sabino has won relentlessly across many leagues, represented SI in NFL and NBA experts leagues and written Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Thomson Course Technology, 2005). His reputation in the "fantasy abyss," as he calls it, is that of a ruthless trader with a misleading smile—and he keeps winning. No one wants to trade with him. He'll help you win.

NOW AT SI.COM
To play fantasy football, go to SI.COM/FANTASY2008. For strategy and analysis, go to SI.COM/FANTASY.

PHOTOHEINZ KLUETMEIERFACEBOOK FRIEND Fantasy players will be glad to have the smiling but ruthless Sabino on their side.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)