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FSWA Profile: Alex Beckey

This year’s winner of FSWA’s Baseball Writer of the Year award brings a unique perspective to fantasy sports writing. Featured in USA TODAY’s Fantasy Baseball 2013 glossy preview magazine, as well as having articles previously published in USA TODAY Sports Weekly and online, BaseballHQ.com’s Alex Beckey views fantasy sports writing as a way to build enduring relationships with many people who share the same interests.

Ron Shandler says, "Alex is a talented writer for our fantasy gaming coverage at BaseballHQ.com and an engaging speaker at our live events. He is both spirited and ambitious - which is reflected in his work - and we are proud to count him among our award-winners on staff."
Alex Beckey_Picture
“I love what I do and I hope that passion shows through in my writing,” said the head-to-head fantasy baseball specialist. “When you want to spend a majority of your free time playing fantasy sports, that’s probably a pretty good indicator of a career you will really enjoy.”

According to BaseballHQ.com’s Brent Hershey, “Alex brings an energy and enthusiasm to his work. His unique ideas and perspective has been an asset to our coverage of the head-to-head format at BaseballHQ.com.”

To say that Alex is enthusiastic about baseball or fantasy sports would probably be an understatement. Every year, Alex plays in ten to fifteen fantasy baseball leagues and several fantasy football leagues. He has even been known to participate in fantasy basketball and golf leagues.

“Playing in so many fantasy leagues allows me the chance to learn from each league.” According to Alex, monitoring several leagues at once helps him to react faster to real-time changes in each game’s strategy.

“More importantly, playing in several fantasy leagues at once allows me to develop relationships within the game.” Knowing that almost every participant shares a love of sports and strategy, it’s easy for Alex to find the common denominators and connect with other team owners.

Perhaps that’s why he thoroughly enjoys his other role as BaseballHQ.com’s Subscriber League Coordinator. Alex’s favorite part of that role is having the opportunity to get to know some of HQ’s subscribers through their common bond – fantasy baseball. “Besides the strategic challenge that the subscribers offer, my favorite part is feeling that I have the opportunity to get to know each of the team owners on a more personal level.”

Speaking at BaseballHQ.com events also allows Alex to develop a connection with the audience. “I love the idea of being in a room where everyone is a pretty big baseball fan. On some level, we’re all there for the same reasons – to learn from one another and have some fun.”

Alex credits his love of baseball cards as one of his earliest influences on fantasy baseball. Like many kids his age, Alex enjoyed creating his own All-Star teams by using sets of Topps baseball cards from different teams and different years.

“Those baseball card All-Star teams were really my first fantasy teams.” Long before the explosion of internet statistics, he avidly read the backs of baseball cards and often checked the box scores in the Chicago Tribune to see how managers were assembling their team’s lineups.

However, it wasn’t until he began playing fantasy football that he developed an interest in fantasy sports writing. “When I played in my very first fantasy football league, I really enjoyed reading all of the player commentaries and reports. I began to wonder what it would take to do something like that.”

A decade later, Alex has found a way to combine his passion for fantasy sports with writing. “I am very grateful to everyone at BaseballHQ.com and USA TODAY who have provided me with the opportunity to do something I love.”

>> Getting to Know Alex Beckey <<

Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
I grew up in Freeport, Illinois, but have lived in the Twin Cities since 1995.

Fantasy story to brag about: The highlight of my fantasy career has been winning FSWA’s 2012 Baseball Writer of the Year Award. It is truly an honor to receive such a prestigious award from an organization that not only provides a voice for writers in the industry, but also unites fantasy sports writers across several media outlets and channels.

I am extremely grateful to the FSWA, and its President, Mike Beacom, for this award and would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the other nominees and winners. It is a privilege to have my name included among such a talented group of fantasy sports writers. I admire all of you for your dedication, ideas and professionalism.

Fantasy writers I admire: Ron Shandler continues to be my favorite fantasy writer, not only because of his analytical approach, but also because he strongly believes that fantasy baseball should be fun. He is adept at making complex fantasy analysis very simple to understand.

Of course, I spend a considerable amount of time reading the columns of the other analysts at BaseballHQ.com as well. Given the variety of gaming experiences of the BaseballHQ.com staff, it is easy to gain a new perspective on strategies for winning fantasy baseball leagues in almost any format.

In addition, I thoroughly enjoy the opinions of Steve Gardner (USA TODAY), Eric Karabell (ESPN), Matthew Berry (ESPN), Stephania Bell (ESPN), Todd Zola (Mastersball.com & ESPN), Lawr Michaels (Mastersball.com), Derek Van Riper (RotoWire & Sirius/XM Radio), Jim Callis (Baseball America), Joe Sheehan (Sports Illustrated), Tim Heaney (KFFL), Nick Minnix (KFFL), and Jason Collette (Baseball Prospectus & RotoWire) as well as several others.

My first fantasy experience: My first fantasy experience was playing fantasy football in a league that needed another owner at the last minute. Because I had never played before, one of the league members picked me up and explained the game on the way to the draft. He also provided me with a cheatsheet and a pen for the upcoming auction. In the car, he told me that whoever drafted Marshall Faulk usually won the league.

When we arrived, it was obvious that I was overmatched by several fantasy veterans. It sounded like many of them had played NCAA Division I football together, so not only were they a tight-knit group, but they also had a very strong working knowledge of the game of football, as well as the players.

Needless to say, I drafted Marshall Faulk and won the league as a rookie. From the moment I drafted the team, I spent almost every waking hour trying to find ways to improve it. My winning strategy was based on the ‘Weakest Link’ game show, where much like television’s ‘Survivor,’ I would vote the weakest player off my team every week and replace him with that week’s top pick-up. It worked.

Favorite fantasy sport and why: Although I play in several fantasy football leagues each year, baseball offers more instant gratification on a nightly basis. Because it can be difficult to wait until Sunday for football scores, baseball’s 162-game schedule provides ample opportunities for acquiring players and developing new strategies. Besides football and baseball, I also play in fantasy basketball and fantasy golf leagues.

Best fantasy acquisition ever: After seeing Mike Trout play in the Arizona Fall League during BaseballHQ.com’s First Pitch Arizona seminar, I acquired him in nine of the twelve fantasy baseball leagues I played in last year. The result was six top-three finishes, including four league championships.

If I wasn't writing fantasy sports: I would be playing them. Outside of spending time with my family and friends, and attending ballgames, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. During my free time, I enjoy volunteer work. For several years, I have volunteered at TwinsFest, the annual fundraiser for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund which has raised more than $4.2 million for charitable causes and other organizations supported by the Twins Community Fund.

I also serve as the current President of the Twin Cities Alumni Advisory Board for Creighton University. The Twin Cities Alumni Advisory Board represents over 2,000 Creighton University Alumni in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area.

How does your significant other and children feel about your fantasy sports career: When I asked them, they said, “It’s pretty cool!” Luckily, my wife, Jolie, is a baseball fan. While we were dating, she took me to several ballgames on the East Coast, including my first trips to Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. We have two boys, ages two and four, who are also baseball fans. Someday, I hope to be an excellent Little League coach with all of the knowledge I’ve gained through these experiences.

Favorite album/CD of all time: Van Halen’s 5150. Although I listen to a wide variety of music, Van Halen’s 5150 is still my all-time favorite.

Favorite movie: My favorite movie is ‘Fever Pitch’ (2005). The movie will always be special to me, not only because of how closely I can identify with Jimmy Fallon’s character, Ben Wrightman, who is a very passionate Red Sox fan, but also because it was the first night I met Jolie’s parents. Of course, the movie ‘Fantasyland: A Season on Baseball’s Lunatic Fringe’ (2010) also deserves special mention here. It is certainly fun to watch!