On June 25, 2000,
NetShrine was
privileged to interview
USA Today Baseball Weekly
Fantasy Insider columnist
John Hunt.

Almost everyone who reads a particular periodical on a regular basis has a "first go to" preference.  By this, it is meant that there is a specific section of the publication which the reader turns to first, before reading any other part of the issue.  For the overwhelming majority of fantasy baseball enthusiasts, John Hunt's "Fantasy Insider" column is their "first go to" choice when it comes to USA Today's Baseball Weekly.

In addition to being the fantasy baseball columnist for Baseball Weekly since 1993, Mr. Hunt is the creator of the Leagues of Alternate Baseball Reality (LABR).  Unequivocally, LABR is the oldest and most celebrated "expert" fantasy league in existence.  As such, each year, LABR consistent serves as a benchmark for other fantasy baseball owners to use in evaluating various strategies.

NetShrine recommends both the hard copy and on-line versions of USA Today's Baseball Weekly - without reservation.   So, what are you waiting for?  Get USA Today's Baseball Weekly and read John Hunt!  Oh, but first, check out our interview............

What do you remember most from the first big league game that you attended?
John Hunt:  I remember NOT attending a Washington Senators game when I was five. My father said I was too young, and he took my 7-year-old brother. That stung! The next year we took a family vacation to San Diego, and we caught a game at the Murph. What I most remember was the amazingly thick body of a Philadelphia outfielder, and I was a Greg Luzinski fan ever since.

Who is the person you would most like to meet?
John Hunt:  Hmm, is my wife going to read this? No, seriously, it wouldn't be a ballplayer. It would probably be one of my musical heroes - Bob Dylan, Randy Newman or Bruce Springsteen. Then again, I'd pass on those guys for a round of golf with Bill Murray.

When you were young, who was your favorite big league player?
John Hunt:  I was an Orioles fan growing up, and Brooks Robinson was my favorite. Had I known what great barbecue Boog Powell could cook up, he would have been it, but what did I know? I remember my mother telling me when I was young, "you can be anything you want to be.'' I looked up at her and said, "Not Brooks Robinson. I could be anybody else, but not Brooks Robinson."

Which baseball movie do you enjoy best?
John Hunt:  I probably enjoyed "Bad News Bears'' the most, but I didn't have much of a critical eye then. I'd have to say that even though I'm not a Kevin Costner fan, I really enjoyed "Field of Dreams,'' partly because I married an Iowa girl.

What will be the biggest change to baseball in the next 25 years?
John Hunt:  It will be one of two things:  Either the financial structure will change dramatically, or the major leagues will become a big-market boondoggle. I think the game will continue to evolve into an offense-dominated sport, and we might even see a shift to composite bats, which would in effect rewrite the record book.

Who's been your most influential mentor?
John Hunt:  Chris Colston, the current writer for Baseball Weekly. He and I covered sports together at Virginia Tech, and I learned a lot from him. (Michael Vick will be the next Michael Jordan/Tiger Woods, by the way - Chris and I are in agreement on that.)

FILL IN THE BLANK: "I'll never forget where I was when ________________ happened."
John Hunt:  When Len Bias died. I played hoops and patterned my game after Terps. First, it was Albert King when I did nothing but pop 15-foot jumpers. Then, it was Buck Williams when I tried to grab every rebound and play smart defense. Then, it was Bias, but I did him no justice.  I remember lying on the beach when my Dad, who has a usually hilarious way of getting names wrong, walked up and said, "You'll never believe this. Len Elmore died.'' I said, "No! How?'' My dad said, "They think it was drugs. Shame, right after he was drafted.'' I knew it was Bias. Tragic. He would have been one of the best.

Where's your favorite ballpark?
John Hunt:  At Camden Yards. I love Wrigleyville. I love the ambience of Fenway and the cheap beer and sausages outside. I respect Yankee Stadium greatly. And Safeco Field can be both enchanting and awesome. But there's nothing like OPCY, with the aforementioned barbecue, the warehouse, and everything else. It would be perfect if we could take the crowd at old Memorial Stadium and put it in Camden - it's too corporate for my liking, but that's the only drawback.

What type of work did you do before working at USA Today Baseball Weekly?
John Hunt:  I worked at USA Today on the agate desk. I compiled stats and answered the phone calls of the first generation of Rotisserie geeks.

How difficult is it telecommuting full-time?
John Hunt:  The only difficult thing is not being around the people I used to work with. I miss out on post-work libations and most of the office gossip, but logistically, it's no problem at all.

Intermission Lightning Round:

Iceberg or Romaine?
Hunt:  What, no meat? OK, iceberg. I know it's boring, but I don't look for excitement in my lettuce.
DH or no DH?
Hunt:  No DH. I grew up an American League fan, but there's no question the game is more interesting without the DH. Plus, I think we'll see a new generation of pitchers who can hit - kind of like today's shortstop generation. Rick Ankiel could blaze the trail.
Laptop or Desktop?
Hunt:  Desktop. Power, power, power. But obviously the laptop is needed on the road.
Night game or day game?
Hunt:  Good question. You can't beat a day game in Florida or Arizona in March. And you can't beat a night game on a hot, humid summer night. The perfect day would include both, but I'd have to give the nod to the sunshine.
Dino or Astro?
Hunt:  Dino was always kind of irritating - I liked it better when Fred hung out with Barney. Astro was cool. You had to love Scooby Doo, but I'd take Dynomutt over them all - a very underrated performer.
Box seats or bleachers?
Hunt:  Bleachers at Wrigley, boxes everywhere else.

Back to the bigger questions......

What's the funniest rotisserie story you heard or experienced?
John Hunt:  In the first year of LABR, Keith Olbermann was in it. He loved to talk trade. One day I had strep throat and was in bad shape. He called me at home wanting to swing a deal. After trying to convey, without the aid of words, that I was in no shape to talk trade, my exasperated wife grabbed the phone and yelled at Olbermann, "Listen, TV boy, my husband's sick. Goodbye!'' He never called back.

Do you ever struggle with finding a theme for your weekly column?
John Hunt:  Yes, but I'm never at a total loss. I've been doing it long enough (seven years) that some topics and opinions are going to overlap and even contradict now and then, but there's always a topic and always an opinion to share.

Who is the best player in the Major Leagues today?
John Hunt:  Alex Rodriguez, but Derek Jeter is gradually gaining on him.

If you could change one thing in baseball, what would it be?
John Hunt:  I would put in a revenue-sharing plan and eliminate the wild cards. Oops, that's two things. I guess I can live with the wild cards.

On average, how many rotisserie related e-mails do you receive each day?
John Hunt:  Probably about 30-50 during the season, but in March, it's out of control - I thought for sure I'd have to break out some electronic Draino to unclog the Internet.

What's the most bizarre rotisserie rule that you've come across?
John Hunt:  Hmm. There was a league that forced the last-place owner to do something I can't really put in print. Let's just say the bad teams kept fighting until October.

Which position is the most important on the field?
John Hunt:  I think we're seeing this year especially that pitcher is the most important position.

If Puff Daddy was a baseball player, what position would he play?
John Hunt:  Well, he idolizes Michael Jordan, so if he were a baseball player, he'd probably play outfield/shooting guard.

What aspect of rotisserie do you dislike the most?
John Hunt:  I don't like the contest games. While there's nothing wrong with them per se, if they can pay their prizes, playing them keeps you from the biggest joys of rotisserie - getting together for a draft, and talking trade/smack throughout the season.

How long would you like LABR to last?
John Hunt:  For the foreseeable future. I think it performs its function - to provide the first good look at Roto pricing for the season - as well as it ever has. Plus, it gives me an airtight excuse to go to Florida in March, so it's got to last.

That's it.  Once again, our thanks to Mr. Hunt for granting NetShrine this interview!

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