It's close, folks. We're just days -- yes, days -- away from the start of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, North America version. And from delectable ballpark food to potential long homers off the bat of Bryce Harper, fans have myriad reasons to be excited for the upcoming campaign.
And with all of this, of course, comes daily fantasy baseball, which includes the free Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings.
Chances are you've fired up the ol' spreadsheet to partake in a little traditional fantasy baseball. Well, daily fantasy baseball isn't that. Instead, it's -- you guessed it -- a daily game. You create a team with an imaginary salary cap, fielding a lineup -- two pitchers, three outfielders and one player at each infield position -- to compete in that day's games.
Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. But within that simple framework are lots of little nuances -- salary-cap management, player projections, even game theory -- such that daily fantasy baseball is a lot like chess; it doesn't take long to learn the rules, but you aren't going to immediately become a grandmaster.
That's where MLB.com comes in. Throughout the season, MLB.com will post daily fantasy articles that will help guide you through the game, showing you the ins and outs to help you win: how to mix and match different sorts of players, when to pair teammates, how to increase the ceiling and floor of your lineup, when it's smart to pay for pitching and so on.
So what are the advantages to daily fantasy baseball over traditional season-long leagues? There are pros and cons to both, of course, but when playing the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings, there's no season-long commitment. You can pick and choose the days you play. So if one of your children has a T-ball game, take the day off and come back tomorrow swinging for the fences.
You also won't need to worry too much about injuries. You don't want to see one of your players get hurt, obviously, but if it happens, you can roll out an entirely different lineup the next day. In addition, you can select any player you'd like, any day, no matter what. As long as you can fit his salary within the confines of the cap, you're good to go.
And lastly, daily fantasy baseball remains relevant and entertaining all season long. When your traditional fantasy team is 30 games below .500 in the middle of the summer, you'll still be able to join in daily fantasy fun and take home some sweet prizes.
And what exactly is on the line if you play? Nothing huge ... just tickets to the World Series, among other prizes. The top two nightly winners of the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings will receive 30-day MLB.TV Premium subscriptions.
But even if you don't win, you'll still win; when you play the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com free from DraftKings on any given day, you'll be entered into three separate DraftKings contests: the MLB.com Friday Home Team Contest, the MLB.com All-Star Game Contest, and the MLB.com World Series Contest. The prizes range from two tickets to a regular-season Major League game of your choosing, to two tickets, lodging and airfare to the 2014 World Series.
It will be a fun ride. Hope to see you in October.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com.