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Diamond Challenge - Fantasy's Best Roto Game

Michael Leone

A handful of years ago I entered a baseball competition run through CDM sports called the Diamond Challenge. At the time I was looking for the chance to enter a legitimate fantasy baseball competition in which I could win a large grand prize without putting forth too much capital. Well, the Diamond Challenge fit that criteria as for a $39.95 entry fee (along with transaction costs throughout the season), I would have my chance at a 25k grand prize.

Although the chance at a large overall prize is what initially attracted me to the DC, much to my surprise it came to embody the greatness of fantasy baseball for me. For those not familiar with the Diamond Challenge, it is a rotisserie style (5 x 5) salary cap fantasy baseball game in which each team can select any 28 players they want (18 hitters, 10 pitchers, 12 man bench) as long as the total salary of the starters does not exceed the 30 million dollar maximum. Each team can make weekly changes and has 12 purchases in which they can add any player they want as long as they drop a player from their current roster. There a couple of other ways to acquire players – 4 free agent moves and a taxi squad expansion towards the end of the season.

Initially, the idea that there will be no draft and other teams can own the same players as you may seem to be a turnoff. However, the Diamond Challenge actually gives you a much more exciting overall experience despite this and, to some extent, because of this. Sure, there’s no live draft, but from the day the salaries first come out (usually January) up until Opening Day, it’s like having a draft for three months straight as you are constantly tweaking your roster until it is perfect – or at least it’s perfect for that brief window from when rosters lock until the first pitch is thrown.

As far as owning the same players as someone else, you quickly learn it’s not a big deal. The Diamond Challenge is about composing the best team, and with so many different possible combinations, your team is sure to be unique. On top of that, making every player available to every owner does something for the Diamond Challenge that other leagues cannot offer – equality. Everyone starts on the same ground. Everyone has the same access to the same players and is playing by the same rules. This makes this the fairest game setup around and as a result, each individual owner has much more control over his or her squad’s fate than in a standard fantasy league. You don’t have to worry about getting a bad spot to pick in the draft. You don’t have to worry about the teams in league 11 having a better chance at the overall prize than you because their draftees were half new players. In a sense, it’s this feeling of control that has made the Diamond Challenge an obsession for many players.

There’s the constant tweaking of the preseason roster. There are the pressing weekly decisions – do I start Pitcher X with a great matchup or Pitcher Y who has two starts this week? Do I stop losing ground in RBI’s by picking up a highly owned masher so I can at least tread water in that category – or do I try and make up ground by adding a low percentage (on few other teams’ rosters) rookie with some pop? Sure, there are decisions to be made in every fantasy format, but the control each owner has in the DC magnifies the implications of these decisions. If you missed out on a stud rookie – you can’t blame the jerk who loads up on every single rookie every year.

Also, the DC really exemplifies the grind of the baseball season and the need to be level headed. Last year, I spent 3 months analyzing every single player only to find myself 2,000th out of around 4,000 competitors a month into the season. I was fortunate enough to end up 30th overall, my best showing since first participating in the DC in 2006. That brings up another issue that is less prevalent in other leagues. How quickly do I use one of my purchases? I only have 12. Do I jump on a rookie hot out of the gate or save that buy in case of an injury later? Those decisions are crucial, but it’s nice to know you are in control of them, not needing to worry about “that guy” who picks up the hot free agent week in and week out.

Unfortunately, Fanball, the site that has hosted the Diamond Challenge game has decided to not run the game this year. I hoped, at this point in the post, to start scribing something poetic and eloquent about the Diamond Challenge and its possible future. However, all I can say is that this is a great game. It is one of the purest fantasy baseball games around, and the players of the game are some of the most passionate in the world. Let’s hear what a couple of them have to say:

Tom Henderson got hooked on the Diamond Challenge back in 1997 after reading an interview with the previous year’s champion. As Tom states, that champion “…took some smart risks. He started an Expos rookie, Mark Grudzielanek at 2nd base. That was the year Mark came out of the gate hitting .400 for a month or two. He took a chance on a young pitcher for the Yanks named Pettite who came out of the gate with a bunch of wins. He also started a budding closer named Hoffman. He was quick to move on Mariners rookie shortstop Alex Rodriguez for 500k. He also picked up Ellis Burks from the Rockies at the break.” Just reading those words from Tom, you can’t help but get a little bit nostalgic and almost feel in awe of the possibility of putting together a perfect roster. It is the “challenge” (You guys knew that pun was coming sooner or later, right?) that makes this game great.

Jeff Koch echoed something that many DC players seem to feel and that I failed to mention earlier: not only did the passion of this game’s members manifest itself in each individual owner’s quest for a perfect roster, but it led to a camaraderie among competitors that is rarely felt between mere strangers in any aspect of society now a days. In his words, “I think it’s odd to say I’ve made friends with over 50 people on the DC BBS. To date, I’ve only met a few face-to-face. Many of these guys have made trips together. Trips include Spring Training, regular season games and an annual pilgrimage to Vegas. Guys simply known as ClosterKnickerbockers, Reed, Quack, Petro, Studs, Oak, DT, DodgerBlues, Second Chance, StewCat, Funk, Willy, Vlad, 490, Get, Down, Godfather, Sax, Piggy and countless others. If any needed a hand, I’d be there to help. The bonds that were made run deep. Maybe it’s akin to having numerous penpals? I don’t know how else to describe it to somebody who wasn’t part of the group.”

I think the truest testament to the Diamond Challenge is that its customers, faced with the prospect that they may be without their favorite game to play, are going out swinging. Former Diamond Challenge players are jumping from forum to forum, trying to gather information on where/how a Diamond Challenge contest can be held this season. Grassroots movements have sprung up to save the game. So, while I was initially devastated at the news of Fanball dropping the DC this season, my despair has turned to confidence. In fact, while conversing with Anthony Perri here at Fantistics, he's confident an outlet will be in place for current DC'ers. Furthermore he added, "if a legitimate outfit did not emerge soon", he'd consider creating a similar game in time for the 2011 season.

The game will go on because the competitors who fell in love with this contest will not let it die. There are too many core customers in place with too much passion. The game setup is too good. With those thoughts in mind, I’m encouraged that all the former DC players out there will be able to play again this season, and hopefully those of you who have never played before will get a chance to test out this game first hand. You will not be disappointed.

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26 Comments | Post a comment

Well said, michael...all of it; a singular game among many that are rubber stamps of each other; something bothering me is that i have seen so little about the demise on other sites, such as prospectus; don't they realize that their stuff is read mostly for fantasy consequences?

Michael great article. I had been playing Diamond Challenge year in and year out since 1993 winning 4 leagues and 1 division title in that time. What this league did for me was renewed my love for the game and the statistics that I loved as a kid. I have to admit when I found out the league was going away, my first feeling was loss. I would look forward to the next years salary and start penciling and fiddling with prospective players in January up until that perfect team, 30 minutes before the first pitch of the season. What a rush! The Diamond Challenge style was perfect for a man raising a family and running a business with the once a week manuever's that allow a fan to play a game and still live life. I will miss that the most!!!

Not only well written but one of the most honest descriptions of the game and the people playing it that I have ever seen. What I don't understand is why someone out there with an established site doesn't seize the opportunity of a lifetime. I was just going to write an email to my dear friend, MR. Perri and ask him but now I would implore him top get started because the earlier he does the easier it will be. Plus he will have access to a few players whose knowledge of the game will floor him.

Not only well written but one of the most honest descriptions of the game and the people playing it that I have ever seen. What I don't understand is why someone out there with an established site doesn't seize the opportunity of a lifetime. I was just going to write an email to my dear friend, MR. Perri and ask him but now I would implore him top get started because the earlier he does the easier it will be. Plus he will have access to a few players whose knowledge of the game will floor him.

Thanks Michael, you nailed it.

As long time player of Diamond Challange and a long time subscriber to Fantastics...Michael you did a great job and I cannot put more emphasis on the "passionate" part. I feel like I lost a family member. I love the format. And even though everyone chooses from the same set of players, everyone has a shot at winning the thing. One year I won my league, came in 2nd in the division, and in the top 25 overall. SWEET!!! All that preseason tweeking, setting up pitchers for double starts, playing everyone you had that was traveling to Colorado...I going to miss this. I would love to know if this game shows up again...I am all in!

Regards...Bob Bohnet

I thought that I was the only one that noticed this early they had ceased operations. I have been walking around in a fog searching all over the net for a similar game to play. I didn't play the rotissiere game but I played the total points game and it is just as challening and entertaining. Please somenbody save us!!!!!!!!!

Great article but DC is ceasing operation. Anyone have an option ? HELP

Great article. Weekend before last I went to the fanball website and they had a link for the 2011 player salaries. I printed them out and started studying them immediately of course. The next weekend I went back to the site and it said they were ceasing operation. I said a few bad words I think. I have played DC since the early 90's and have subscribed to fantistics for the last few years. I have won leagues and a division once and done fairly well the past 3 years. I feel like I have a huge void now. If someone comes up with an option please let me know. Thanks for the article and the comments.

Currently I know of two groups working to offer a DC alternative: Fantrax and Pitchersgunsandmoney. Both are hustling to get things together to start the season. Check 'em out and be patient. Rumors also have Charlie looking to do something next year.

Diamond Challenge has been my favorite game of all time. Been playing since 2001. As an avid subscriber of Fantistics, I agree w/ Michael (a/k/a/ Jungle) that we can't miss a year (2011).
Please feel free to read whatever comments you'd like, but a $200-$300 all inclusive D.C. type game would be a boon to you and something which you can continue to grow. I think letting 2011 come and go w/out D.C. will result in a lost opportunity and put a dent in the resurrection of Diamond Challenge.
I'd be happy to contribute to the $20k it costs for Stat's Inc.

Let's tweak Fanball's salaries (or buy the rights, if they want anything for their dissolved product).

I'd sign up in a heartbeat.

Greetings all,
If they do get the DC Challenge or something similar, someone please drop me an email at pkbabcock@msn.com. Been playing since 1995 and actually won the Internet Challenge grand prize some time back. Always a fun challenge and would miss it.
Paul Babcock

I have been playing all of the cap leagues that CDM and Fanball have run since 1996. MLB,NFL,NHL,NBA; Full season, 2nd season, playoffs; I played them all.

I check every day starting in late December for the MLB salaries to be posted. When they are published, I immediately print them and begin strategizing. It is my favorite time of the fantasy year!!!

I followed my normal routine this year. Then, a few weeks ago, saw that dreadful yellow banner appear on my monitor.


I can't believe these things aren't cash cows.
I can't believe someone else wouldn't buy the rights to these games and run them.
I know I donate thousands per year to support their cause (I only tell myself that the prizes help me to break even!)

Please, I beg someone, revive this failing entity. It's more than just a "fantasy game" to many of us!!!

Thank you,


Been playing Diamond Challenge since 1997. Since 2000, I've played 3 varied teams each year to enhance my chances. The "rush" I've had playing this game cannot be filled by any other type game. I recently turned 62 and retired at the end of the year. The whole 14 years I participated in the Diamond Challenge, I was working nights. Because of that, I was an infrequent BBS poster. Ironically, with more time at my disposal, I was looking forward to this year more than ever. I felt I would be able to devote more time to this hobby and become more involved in the BBS.
If a Diamond Challenge type game does become a reality this year, I would appreciate it if someone would let me know at mistercorny@hotmail.com

Jim Reiter(AKA Reiterate)

Rumor has it that this website (Fantistics/Insiderbaseball.com) is developing a CDM/Fanball type of Salary Cap type game. I've been told that an announcement may be coming later this week. Bring it on!

Fantistics - Please resurrect this game! If I had the money, I'd be all over it. I think Fanball just got too big. IF this game is not among so many options, I don't know how it cannot make money.

Back in 1999, I finished 7th overall. What a thrill! I have won one division and also the league four times. In fantasy baseball terms, I am devistated.

With the salaries listed for this upcoming canceled season, I noticed the salaries weren't strictly reflecting 3 year averages for salary like the good old days. I'd like to see that format as part of the resurrection of Diamond Challenge.

Fantistics/Insider baseball - please bring it back if you can. Run it right and keep it alive forever!


Looks like a website called Fantrax (fantrax.com) is going to run a similar game.

$20,000 grand prize

@ Roger AKA: Burns Bombers,

Do you still have the 2011 Fanball salary spreadsheet that you could send me?


Fantistics has posted the home for the 2011 Diamond Challenge: http://thefantasychallenge.com/

This game looks like the salaries are a little different than the latest fanball version. Offensive players have small adjustments in either direction. The pitching is weighted more in salary. I like it!

Fantistics/Insider Baseball need to put an ad on their website. How are people going to find the game?

There is a ad banner on the website insiderbaseball.com and also in the member area. Thanks for the concern!

hello , this message is for roger aka Burns Bombers ,or anyone else who may have a copy of the diamond challenge salaries for 2011.... i use those salaries for my league and can't find them any where if there is any way i could possibly get them from you that would be awesome. we have a 14-team keeper league in it's 19th year and the salaries are based on the cdm diamond challenge. i started using them when it was the sporting news game .if we don't get them for this season our whole system will be out of whack. i don't have enough time for this year to figure out a new salary system so hopefully you or someone else can help me out!!!! Thanks Pat M.--- thurmanlambert@yahoo.com

Great article Michael. My father, younger brother and I have had separate teams since either the first or second year of the Diamond Challenge. As we have grown older and ventured into our endeavors, we always had this game to converse and bond over. It served to reinvigorate not only our love of baseball, but our joy in each others' company. Hour long phone conversations to dissuade the old man from rostering Bob Hammelin, tease each other over various poor decisions etc. We were already gearing up for the 2011 season when my brother texted me about the demise of DC. Devastated would be melodramatic, but the upcoming season didn't carry the same excitement even with my Giants trying to defend their first SF title. After scrambling and searching the web, there at least now seems to be options. We are researching the 3 main games that have come to light from our research before deciding which to enter, but rest assured, we will enter. It is a credit to the original visionaries and creators of this game and the passion of die-hard baseball fans that such a grassroots effort that you alluded to is in effect and appears to be ready to offer all of us DC refugees an opportunity in 2011.

Great article, once again.
The Rafa Family, Henry (Burners), Matt and Pete (Henry's Kids)

Fantastic article and responses.
Special note to Bob Bohnet-Please contact me when you have a chance. I am a long ago fan who would love to ask you a couple questions about your career.

Fantastic article and responses.
Special note to Bob Bohnet-Please contact me when you have a chance. I am a long ago fan who would love to ask you a couple questions about your career.

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