Astonishingly few people even know about CSFBL - Computer Simulated Fantasy Baseball League - but those of us that do know love it. The basic idea is that you create or adopt a fictional baseball franchise and manage it season after season - leagues vary from 2 games/day to 8 games/day.
You have control over your 25-man major league roster, a roster in the high-minors and a third roster of up-and-comers in the low-minors. You can adjust your lineup, your pitching rotation, your managerial style, your spending on scouts, training, development and you draft new players each year. After each game, you can check the box scores, and check the compiled stats for the year, of for all time. It's not quite as polished as whatifsports.com and the feature set isn't as rich - but it's free. For someone like me that can only check it for a few minutes a week, it's the perfect baseball fix for the offseason. You only need to invest as much or as little time as you'd like...
Nerdy? Or course.
So, why is it in limbo? The site has been down since 1/22, the server has moved from an ISP to the proprieter's basement and there's really no telling when things will be back up and running. Their outage blog suggests that they'll be up by Monday, but this is a hobby, rather than a business. There's no guarantee there.
So, what's next? If CSFBL is going to survive, they need to make a business out of this. Much like whatifsports has done with simulated baseball, like Match.com has done with personals and like we've done with executive job search over at TheLadders.com, they need to offer a simple basic version that gives people a taste of the product and encourages people to upgrade to a paid version for full access, features, etc.
Whatifsports has proven that the business model can work for sports, and it's really not that different from the fantasy sports behemoths - CBS Sportsline, ESPN and Yahoo. The revenue from the run-of-network ads on CSFBL wasn't enough to make the site anything more than a hobby, and the donations through Amazon.com's Honor System haven't done the trick either. As sad as it will be for us freeloaders, it's time for CSFBL to get serious and try to make some money off the quality engine they've built.
They've hinted at the idea a bit in a blog post, suggesting (in a FAQ format) that the level of donations by a particular league might determine whether or not they get migrated to the new, improved version of the site. But it's not going to be enough. I guess I just don't understand why they're so reluctant to turn their baby into even a small business. It's a no-brainer.
UPDATE: In the few brief hours since I posted this, the CSFBL site has been revived!