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Interrogate the Industry: Lenny Melnick

For this week’s “Interrogate the Industry,” I achieved another goal of mine for 2015 — was to start the year with a bang! And now, by snagging both Lenny Melnick and Mike Gianella as my first two vict — I mean — “guests” for my series, I have done just that. I am hoping to expand it as well, but have overcome my fear, if you can call it that, of reaching out to some of the titans of the industry. The worst that could happen is to get a “No,” or simply be ignored, but honestly, that isn’t a big deal to me.

Lenny works at, and hosts a Fantasy show on Sirius XM, one he was voted as best host for in 2009, actually. He also has plenty of bragging rights and trophies when it comes to Fantasy Baseball. Winning Tout Wars once, and LABR 3 times! That is impressive, especially considering the competition.

Needless to say, I was glad he could spare some time, and was patient in the posting as we switched sites.

Before we dig in to the interview, I know I have been promoting my own idea, but wanted to push it here quickly, too. You can find out more info on the site I created, but I am essentially looking to fund-raise for one of my best friend’s 3-year-old son, Jude, who is battling Leukemia a second time in his short life. To do this, I am inviting anyone and everyone to join a “Homers for Hope Fantasy Baseball League!” No entry fee is required, but donations are strongly encouraged. All donations will go directly to Jude and his family, so it is a win/win!

Read more about Jude, his situation, and my big project, which I hope is an enormous success: Homers for Hope Site. Please don’t hesitate to join, or just donate, and let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy the post everyone, thanks for reading and thank you, Lenny, for participating.

Interrogate the Industry: Lenny Melnick

1. Everyone got their Fantasy industry start somewhere. Talk about yours as brief or detailed as you like. If possible, include ups and downs, and others in the industry who helped?

LennyBefore the Internet in 1993, there was a chance of missing some boxscores. Keeping this in mind, I answered a newspaper ad offering air time for anyone with any talent to buy show time. Using Jody McDonald”s Rotisserie segment as a model, Irwin Zwilling and I launched The Rotisserie Sports Hour radio show on WGBB 1240 am NY. We didn’t realize at the time, how significant this show was to become. The Rotisserie Sports Hour was the first radio show ever broadcast, pertaining to Rotisserie/Fantasy Sports. We later propelled this show to appear on national TV on Pennant Chase, TWIB and later, MLB Radio. I am currently heard on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio.

2. What is the most memorable (good or bad) Fantasy Sports or industry moment in your storied career?
After the 1994-95 baseball strike, MLB wanted to discover the importance of this new phenomenon called Fantasy Baseball. MLB invited me as a guest to the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland to give a Q&A for Fantasy Baseball. MLB expected 500 people at the Fan Fest, and they expected some simple questions, such as, “How do you play Fantasy Baseball?” Instead, over 3,000 fans showed up asking me for second-half SLEEPERS! Fantasy Baseball took on a new meaning for MLB shortly after this event. I was overwhelmed!

3. Are there any players who are on new teams this upcoming season who you will be pursuing more than before in Fantasy Baseball drafts?

Jason Heyward’s stock may have fallen just a bit, but his new home in St Louis will bring out his best.
Nate Eovaldi may be just blooming and he may become a hero in New York for the Yankees.

4. Since leagues like Tout Wars or LABR are essentially a Fantasy of mine to partake in some day, has it ever become tiresome? What does winning it feel like?

When most people embark on a career in a new field, the dreams are mainly of fame and fortune. For me, the many friends I have made in the Fantasy Sports business over the last 22 years has become my treasure. Never did I imagine being welcomed into any city and be invited to see a game or have a beer by so many of the friends I have made. Yes, these are many of those people I compete against and I cherish every opportunity.

I have won Tout Wars once, and when I won LABR for the third time this year — Yes, I did breakdown with emotion …

5. What is the most annoying Fantasy-related questions you get on Twitter, or anywhere for that matter? Any examples??

No question is annoying, but many are frustrating. Often times questions are asked without giving me all the info (how many teams in the league?) (who else do you have?) This stuff drives me nuts. LOL

Clayton Kershaw by Keith Allison

6. Is there a strategy you will be using in Fantasy Baseball drafts in 2015? Positional scarcity, power hitters, elite pitching?

It has been 18 years that I have preached DO NOT PAY FOR CLOSERS IN THE AUCTION FORMAT. Simple example: It costs at least $25 to buy closers to be competitive in saves. Instead, add $25 to your crappy $5 pitcher and you have Clayton Kershaw. I think you’re better off.

7. Is this the year Bryce Harper stays healthy and meets his lofty expectations?

A projected line of .295 batting average, 25-30 HR, 100 RBI, 15 SB? Not bad.

8. If you had to write an episode script for any television show which one would it be? Any plot ideas?

High Stakes Fantasy Baseball Tournament with $500,000 on the line to the winner. Fred can win this bundle if Roger Clemens does NOT have a good game. Imagine how great an episode it would be, as Fred tries to keep Roger Clemens from getting to the ballpark! Accidents, food poisoning, you name it … Fred will do it! Perhaps Jax, and the “Sons of Anarchy” could help!

9. If you could hang out, party or whatever for one day with someone, with zero repercussions, who would it be and why?

At age 8, I listened to Vin Scully announce Brooklyn Dodgers games as I pitched off the wall in my driveway. Time has gone by, and yes, I’m still listening to Vin — and I still feel like a kid when I do.

(Editor’s Note: The staff at “So-Called Fantasy Experts” offer a huge thank you to Lenny Melnick for coming on and sharing these stories with us. I met Lenny and Irwin back in 2001 at a LABR auction in Tampa, as they were hosting their radio show and I was serving as John Hunt’s auctioneer for the AL-only draft. Lenny was awesome to me back then — and he’s awesome now. — Gonos)

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