2022 Lawr Michaels Zen and Now Award Winner: Justin Mason

Ron Shandler’s comments presenting the award before the Tout Mixed Auction on March 19th:

It’s been over three years since we lost Lawr Michaels, and the fantasy industry lost a good part of its heart and soul. Lawr always reminded us that Tout Wars was all about community.

So two years ago, we started the Lawr Michaels Zen and Now award to honor a Tout who exhibited Lawr’s most valuable qualities – demonstrating the most positive energy, providing the greatest contributions to the overall competitive experience, and inspiring others in the Tout Wars community and across the fantasy baseball industry.

Our previous two honored recipients of this award have been Todd Zola and Rick Wolf.  

This year’s award winner is Justin Mason, who has taken the concept of “community” to the extreme. The competition he started – The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational – draws hundreds of fantasy baseball content providers each year. The owner roster includes everyone from long-time industry veterans to rookies, and establishes a playing field that fosters a higher level competitive experience for the industry’s newer talent.

TGFBI has become a great way for those of us who are fantasy baseball vets to pay it forward. Given the explosion of writers, analysts, podcasters, and generally smart people contributing content these days, Justin’s role in helping to grow this industry can’t be underestimated.

In the words of one of his nominators: “Justin’s work is a perfect example of the sense of spirit, community, and camaraderie embodied by Lawr Michaels.”

It is my great honor and privilege to present this year’s Lawr Michaels Zen and Now Award to Justin Mason of Friends with Fantasy Benefits. 

Here are some of the Touts’ nominating Justin:

(by Tim McCullough)

Justin runs the TGFBI leagues and does a great job of being inclusive in doing so. He also writes for Fangraphs and the Friends with Fantasy Benefits site. He’s an all-around good guy in my opinion and is deserving of recognition for the way he promotes the fantasy business.

(by Derek Vanriper in 2020)

In addition to creating a league that brings together a very large portion of the fantasy baseball community (TGFBI), Justin raised more than $6,000 for Meals on Wheels with his Podapalozza event back in April. Without a doubt, he’s one of the most positive people in our community, and one who constantly demonstrates the values that were a priority to Lawr. 

(by Todd Zola in 2019)

Justin Mason’s The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational is a perfect example of the sense of spirit, community, and camaraderie embodied by Lawr Michaels. A competition among veterans, fledgling newbies, and everyone in between is a great way for some of the established mainstays to pay it forward, much the way it was done for them. Further, Justin’s own personable nature carried over onto social media where there were spirited discussions about the TGFBI from February through September, a rarity in the fantasy baseball realm as football talk dominates after the All-Star break. Justin’s development and administration of the TGFBI warrants strong consideration for the Lawr Michaels Zen and Now Award.

Two Days, Four Auctions! Tout Wars Weekend is complete.

Check out the Draft Sheets here:

Tout Wars AL (Draft Sheet: Click here)

Mike Podhorzer writes about his auction.

Jason Collette on his auction.

Ryan Bloomfield’s review of his AL team is here.

Patrick Davitt and Doug Dennis talked at length about Tout AL and Doug’s weird strategy on the BaseballHQ Radio pod.

Patrick Davitt pivots to his own team at baseballhq.com ($)

Tout Wars Mixed Auction (Draft Sheet: Click here).

Alex Chamberlain’s recap.

Eric Karabell wrote about the auction for ESPN+($).

Scott Pianowski’s piece is here.

Scott Engel on his draft is here.

Zach Steinhorn’s draft review can be found here.

Scott Swanay’s team review is here.

Tout Wars NL (Draft Sheet: Click here)

Tristan Cockcroft wrote about his auction for ESPN+($).

Grey Albright hates his team enough to like it.

Tout Wars Head to Head (Draft Sheet: Click here)

Dan Strafford’s pod is here.

Ariel Cohen and Chris Welsh talk about the auction on The Beat the Shift podcast.

Todd Zola and Clay Link talk about Clay’s auction.

The more traditional spreadsheets are linked to in the sidebar later now.

Tout Wars Weekend is Coming! Here’s how to follow all the drafts.

For the third year in a row the Touts are gathering for a virtual Tout Weekend. No party at Foleys, no hanging out at the Stewart Hotel and SiriusXM talking baseball with friends. No intense, fast-paced in-person auctions led by savvy auctioneers pushing the pace ever forward.

For the third year in a row the Touts will be gathering in a draft room at Fantrax, some of them connected on a Zoom call, putting their teams together from the four corners of the US, from Florida to Hawaii, from Maine to the Columbia Valley. Here’s how you can follow along (note that the moderator will need to admit you to the public Zoom Rooms, which might take a moment):

Tout Wars AL (Saturday March 19, 2022 10 AM ET)

Radio broadcast on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports
Public Zoom Room can be accessed at 896 5031 8894, hosted by Tim McLeod and Eric Cross.
Draft Sheet: Click here

Tout Wars Mixed Auction (Saturday March 19, 2022 4 PM ET)

Radio broadcast on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports (The Lawr Michaels Zen and Now Award winner will be announced on SiriusXM in the 15 minute block before the auction starts)
Public Zoom Room can be accessed at 864 7710 5666, hosted by Clay Link.
Draft Sheet: Click here

Tout Wars NL (Sunday March 20, 2022 10 AM ET)

Radio broadcast on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports
Public Zoom Room can be accessed at 895 0366 4657, hosted by Derek VanRiper.
Draft Sheet: Click here

Tout Wars Head to Head (Sunday March 20, 2022 4 PM ET)

Radio broadcast on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports
Public Zoom Room can be accessed at 853 3504 2173, hosted by Adam Howe and Shelly Verougstraete.
Draft Sheet: Click here

Tout Wars Draft and Hold is over!

Check out the draft board here.

Nando Di Fino talks about his team with Derek VanRiper on their podcast.

Michael Stein’s article about his team.

James Anderson writes about all his industry leagues, including Tout Draft and Hold.

Brad Johnson writes about his draft.

Tout Wars Mixed 15 Draft is Finished!

See the full draft results here. Click tabs for different leagues.

Scott White writes about his draft here.

Rudy Gamble writes about how his draft went here.

Charlie Wiegert’s recap (part 1) is right here. And like the Godfather, it has a part 2 right here.

Mike Gianella’s story of his draft at Baseball Prospectus out from behind the paywall.

Tout Wars Mixed Draft 15 is Coming Up Soon!

You can follow it by Zoom, hosted by Jason Collette, at Zoom room 897 6009 8139. No password is required.

The draft is being covered by Colton and Wolfman on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports, though I hear the Wolfman isn’t in tonight. I’m sure Glenn will have an able co-host.

The link to the public draft room on Fantrax is here. You can see the actual draft order there.

Draft order is based on teams that finished better last year getting their choice of picks. The order of picking this year was:

Adam Ronis (1000) 2015, 2016, 2021 Mix 15 Champion
DJ Short (1000)
Shelly Verougstraete (1000)
Tim McLeod (1000) 2014 Mix 15 Champion
Tim McCullough (1000)
Seth Trachtman (1000) 2016 AL Champion
Charlie Wiegert (1000)
Ray Murphy (1000) 2019 Mix 15 Champion
Rudy Gamble (1000) 2018, 2017 Mix 15 Champion
Scott White (1000) 2020 Mix 15 Champion
Michael Beller (920)
Anthony Perri (870)
Mike Gianella (700) 2015 NL Champion, Xfer from Tout AL
Perry Van Hook (680))
AJ Mass (1000) Return to Tout

Teams that finish in the lower half of the standings one year face a FAAB penalty the next. The numbers in parens are that team’s FAAB for 2022. The penalties follow teams even if they change leagues.